Junk Science In, Junk Prolife Out

Dianne N. Irving
copyright October 28, 2013
Reproduced with Permission

St. Thomas Aquinas in his De Anima, paraphrasing Aristotle: "A small error in the beginning leads to a multitude of errors in the end." (Aristotle, in De Coelo, 1.5.271b, 9-10)

I. Introduction

Junk in, junk out, as they say.

A. Real Science and Junk Science:

How many "pre-embryo substitutes"1 can you find in the "pro-life" article below that is addressing only life "in the womb" (and even then possibly only some of that time)? Let me count the ways.

In this article, "The Miracle of Human Development: Life Begins Long Before She's Born", by Katie McCann of Ohio Right to Life2 (at: http://www.lifenews.com/2013/10/24/the-miracle-of-human-development-life-begins-long-before-shes-born/#_ftn4), including the video provided in it, one can find at least: 27 false scientific facts, 2 partially false scientific facts, 2 true scientific facts, 2 self-contradictions, and 5 simply passé propaganda or purposefully vague claims -- all just in one half of a page and a 2 minute 18 second video. And I would note that scientific "half-truths", or the selective use of only certain scientific facts, are every bit as "junk" as outright fully fake "junk" science.

I must say, after literally more than a century of the accurate scientific facts of human embryology being globally available in text form and in libraries around the world, including institutionalized in 1942 as the Carnegie Stages of Early Human Embryonic Development3, and for decades available in real human embryology textbooks and on the internet to the present, one does have to wonder what is going on in this "prolife" article. But, that I leave to the discretion of the reader.

Instead, I will simply identify the "junk", and briefly explain why it is "junk". For full direct quotes from the accurate scientific sources, available to anyone, please see the endnotes and the articles provided. I suspect that prolife needs to be far more discerning about what "science" they use, or lose their credibility entirely, and end up being simply "junk prolife".

B. "Pre-Embryos", "Pre-Embryo Substitutes", and "In the Womb":

But for those still unfamiliar with this "problem", let me just point out briefly that the end result of this article by McCann, whether she realizes it or not, is to serve the scientifically fraudulent claims that sexually reproduced (fertilization/conception) early developing human embryos don't really exist "outside the womb" in the woman's fallopian tube, or in petri dishes in IVF and ART research laboratories and "infertility" clinics -- and "in the womb" they don't really begin their lives until implantation or possibly even later.4 It also serves the scientifically fraudulent claims that asexually reproduced human embryos/fetuses (reproduced without fertilization/conception) don't really exist inside the woman's body (e.g., monozygotic identical twins), or outside the body in IVF and ART research laboratories and "infertility" clinics. It implies that either there is no human being present yet, or also even no human person there either. Such are classic examples of fake scientific "pre-embryo substitutes" -- where fake "science" is used as the "empirical" starting point for concocting fake "delayed personhood" declarations and legal loopholes in legislation, including the obvious loophole phrase "in the womb" (which seems to have enjoyed a popular comeback lately).

I do think it goes without saying that the fake "pre-embryo" myth5 concocted in the late 1960's by Jesuit theologian Richard McCormick and frog embryologist Clifford Grobstein ("to have a seat at the table") lives on today,6 even though the term has long been formally rejected by the international committee on human embryology and reputable human embryologists.7 There is no such thing as a "pre-embryo" -- or any of the numerous "pre-embryo substitutes". Yet, even without specifying that exact term but still quoting the same fake "science", in all its glorious and myriad "pre-embryo substitute" forms, these are still used today to persuade people that there is no "person" or "human being" or "baby" there until implantation "in the womb" -- or even later!

As noted, it also goes without saying that when such cute terms are used in legislation and regulations they form deadly "legal loopholes".8 Just the term "conception" has already been variously interpreted in various U.S. laws to mean "fertilization", "implantation", and "in the womb". Examples of other "loophole language" in many current "personhood" initiatives, depending on how they are defined, also include: "prenatal", "abortion", "cloning", "stages", "pre-embryo", "functions", "species", "zygote", "fertilized egg", etc. And new ones are concocted daily.

C. Why Care? Why care?

Because we're not just talking about politics, or about some abstract "theory". Because those innocent living really existing human beings who do not fall under those "junk" definitions in legislation will not be covered by that legislation -- and that means that they can legally be aborted, killed in experimental and therapeutic research, manipulated in IVF and ART research laboratories and "infertility" clinics, genetically engineered,9 and then implanted into women without their knowing about that... the list goes on and on. Indeed, such "junk" definitions in laws and regulations for "delays" at the beginning of life are often transferred to legal issues at the end of life - the "delays" are simply reversed, so that all that is left there is a "human vegetable". Consequently, those "delays" can and have been used to justify euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, "brain death", organ transplantation, the use of human subjects in the "vegetative state" in experimental research, etc. In fact, if it is claimed that all human beings are sexually reproduced at "fertilization" (or "conception"), then that leaves all human beings asexually reproduced out of existence altogether, not to mention out of both humanhood and personhood -- at both the beginning and the end of life. They simply wouldn't even legally "exist" - and therefore they too can be used. And assuredly all of this will be deemed "ethical" by bioethicists "for the greater good".10

Not to mention how all this "junk" science over so many years, by both prochoice and prolife has confused and crippled the correct formation of consciences11 of millions who wants to believe it, or who don't know any better and so must defer to the "experts" -- such as the BabyCenter LLC12 (noted for its "family planning" expertise) who produced the video in this article, as well as "experts" from various related fields.13

Articles such as this are nothing more than attempts -- by both prolife and prochoice groups -- to justify what is not justifiable. But surely it is more shocking to see it fostered and promoted by those in "prolife". Much more of this and "prolife" will inevitably become totally irrelevant.

Below please find a listing of false scientific errors, partial truths, truths, self-contradictions, and simply passé propaganda in the article. (Emphases used to help those with little scientific background).

II. "Junk" science throughout the article and video

I will simply go paragraph by paragraph in the article and briefly point out the scientific errors. For more extensive scientific verification and documentation, please see the references in the endnotes (copied only once for brevity, but applicable to subsequent points as well), as well as the articles referenced there.

** A new individual human being begins growing in the mother's uterus at fertilization **

1. Bad link that doesn't work for endnote #1.

2. PARTLY FALSE. SOME human beings begin to exist sexually at the beginning of fertilization (fusion of sperm and "egg"), but some begin to exist without fertilization through asexual reproduction (both in vivo and in vitro).14

3. FALSE. Fertilization NEVER takes place in the woman's uterus.15 NEVER Other than in artificial situations (e.g., IVF and ART), fertilization always takes place in the woman's fallopian tube that leads to the uterus -- a full week before the embryo's implantation in the uterus. The beginning of the process of fertilization is when a new single-cell human organism sexually reproduced begins to exist and when a woman is normally "pregnant". The new embryo must be at the correct developmental stage of development before he or she can implant in the uterus. The single-cell embryo at fertilization in the fallopian tube is at Stage 1, and would be incapable of implanting into the uterus. This is also true for the embryo at Stage 2. Indeed, one of the main mechanisms of "birth control" pills is to speed up or slow down the movement of the developing human embryo through the fallopian tube to the uterus. If the embryo 's journey is slowed down, then by the time the embryo reaches the uterus he/she is too developed to implant. If the embryo's journey is hastened, then he/she is not developed enough to implant. That is why "birth control" pills can be abortifacient if fertilization has taken place in the woman's fallopian tube.16

** Jerome LeJeune asserted, "To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being **

1. PARTLY FALSE. While it is true that at fertilization some new humans beings have come into being, it is not true to take from LeJeune's statement that that all human beings come into being at fertilization or by means of fertilization. Many human beings come into being without fertilization (i.e., by means of asexual reproduction).17

2. FALSE. Given that LeJeune was definitely prolife, unfortunately he claimed that the new human being formed via fertilization (only) didn't become a "person" until the 2-cell stage (= "delayed personhood"!) -- which is why he states "after fertilization". LeJeune was not a human embryologist; he was a geneticist. After being informed of the Carnegie Stages, he agreed that the new human being sexually reproduced comes into being at the beginning of fertilization, and that that was simultaneously when the new human "person" begins to exist.18 He absolutely would not agree that that new human being doesn't begin to exist until implantation (5-7 days post-fertilization).

** The human nature of the human being from conception to old age **

Since LeJeune was not a human embryologist, he was probably unaware that the term "conception" had long been discarded as unscientific and erroneous and rejected by human embryologists world-wide.19 But his phrase does suggest what followed, with the persistent mantra of the Church right down to the present: "from conception to natural death".20 If we follow the simple logic of that mantra, then we don't have to "respect" any human beings who are asexually reproduced (both in vivo and in vitro), or any human beings sexually reproduced who die tragic unnatural deaths, and at any age, including an "early age". Such mantras cannot be either logically or empirically defended -- so why insist on using them?

** The unborn baby is alive from the moment of fertilization. **

1. FALSE. While it is true that at fertilization the unborn baby is alive, that statement does not cover when babies who are not reproduced by fertilization are alive -- which is when the DNA in the cells are reverted back to what it should be for a human organism (rather than for just a "cell").21

2. FALSE. There is no such thing as "the moment" of fertilization. Fertilization is a process, not a moment in time, and that process continues for about a day. The accurate scientific fact is that the new human being begins to exist at the beginning of that process -- not at the end of the process, or even later.

** The unborn baby has 46 chromosomes in the cells of his or her body - the scientifically verifiable human genetic code. **

1. FALSE. While the number "46" chromosomes refers to the human being, many human beings have more or less than "46" chromosomes.22 And there are species other than human beings who also have "46" chromosomes in each cell nucleus.23 Therefore the real difference among them pertains to the number, kind and arrangement of the nucleic acids that make up each and every one of those "46" chromosomes -- what "epigenetics" is all about.24 Note too that half of those chromosomes are contributed by the woman's oocyte, and half by the man's sperm; it is the man's sperm that determines the sex of the unborn baby.25

2. FALSE. The human genome is NOT defined in terms of just the number of chromosomes in the nucleus of the cell, but also in terms of the chromosomes outside the nucleus in the cytoplasm of the cell, e.g., the chromosomes in the mitochondria. The "human genome" is defined as the total sum of all the DNA in a cell -- both the nuclear DNA and the mitochondrial DNA.26

** The unborn baby from the moment of fertilization **

1. FALSE. Again, fertilization is a long process that takes up to 24 hours, not a "moment" -- and a lot goes on during that process: Carnegie Stage 1a, Carnegie Stage 1b, and Carnegie Stage 1c. The new human being sexually reproduced during the process of fertilization begins to exist at the beginning of that process, at Stage 1a (not Stage 1c).

** The baby is the same baby, whether inside or outside the uterus. **

1. TRUE. This is correct, and therefore this article should also include the baby still in the fallopian tube trying to reach the uterus, as well as both sexually and asexually reproduced babies in petri dishes in IVF and ART research laboratories and "infertility" clinics all over the world. Yet none of those "babies" are used as examples in this article.

** Every unborn baby is a complete, individual living human being from the earliest moment of his or her existence at fertilization **

1. FALSE. Not every baby begins to exist by means of the process of fertilization. Thus this statement leaves out of existence all human babies that begin to exist by means of asexual reproductive processes (in vivo and in vitro).

**... in the United States it is legal to kill that developing child by abortion for all nine months of pregnancy for any reason **

1. POSSIBLY TRUE. -- but depends on how "pregnancy" "human reproduction" and "abortion" are being defined. If "pregnancy" is defined only as beginning at "implantation", then the law would also, by definition, allow the use of abortifacients to kill those sexually reproduced human embryos still in the woman's fallopian tube and not "in the womb" yet. If "pregnancy" does not include any human embryos/fetuses "outside the womb", then all those sexually and asexually reproduced human beings "outside the womb" in vivo and in IVF and ART research laboratories and "infertility" clinics can be legally killed at any age too. Since asexually reproduced human beings are being implanted as well as sexually reproduced human beings, the term "abortion" must now include both kinds of human embryos that are killed by abortion.

2. SELF-CONTRADICTORY. The article and video are claiming that the new human "baby" only begins to exist at implantation (or even later, in the video). From implantation to birth is only 8 months and 3 weeks -- not 9 months! What a difference a week makes.

3. FALSE. To claim that "pregnancy" begins only at implantation leaves out all the new human babies who are still in the woman's fallopian tube, or still in those petri dishes in IVF and ART research laboratories and "infertility" clinics).

4. FALSE. In normal sexual relations, "pregnancy" begins when the new human being begins to exist -- at the beginning of the process of fertilization in the woman's fallopian tube (not in her uterus). It is only when artificial reproduction outside the woman (e.g., in those petri dishes) that a woman only becomes "pregnant" when that week-old human being is implanted into her uterus by some IVF/ART clinician.

[Note that half of the 4 endnotes used in the article are from the Guttmacher Institute, a long-established pro-choice organization.]

VIDEO: Guttmacher-style

** Within a week of conception, the fertilized egg, known as a blastocyst, will make its way to your uterus. **

1. FALSE. The term "conception" is unscientific, misleading, and has been formally rejected by human embryologists.

2. FALSE. Not all human beings begin to exist by means of fertilization; many begin to exist without the use of fertilization. Therefore, this video is addressing only some -- but not all -- "miracles of human development".

3. FALSE. It is not the single-cell fertilized egg that implants into the uterus, but the much more developed multi-celled embryo called a "blastocyst" -- i.e., at the blastocyst stage of development. The "fertilized egg" is definitely not the same as the "blastocyst".

4. FALSE. The "fertilized egg" is actually now the new single-cell human being who begins to exist at the beginning of the process of fertilization in the woman's fallopian tube. The "blastocyst" is the early human being who has been developing during his/her journey through the woman's fallopian tube and is at Stage 3 -- sometimes consisting of over 100 cells. That embryo then begins to implant into the woman's uterus, which takes about another week to complete -- while the embryo is at Stage 4.

5. SELF-CONTRADICTORY. This sentence actually contradicts the earlier statement that the new human being begins to exist in the woman's uterus, at fertilization. Again, fertilization never takes place in the woman's uterus; it takes place in the woman's fallopian tube, or in those IVF/ART petri dishes.

** The egg is about the size of a pin tip. **

1. FALSE. The new single-cell human embryo formed at the beginning of fertilization in the woman's fallopian tube is not still an "egg"; he/she is now a totally different substance -- a new human organism, a human embryo, a human being. The terms "fertilized egg" and "egg" have been formally rejected by human embryologists.27

2. PROPAGANDA. For those of us over 30, the phrase "size of a pin tip" was used extensively decades ago by the likes of NARAL, Planned Parenthood, the Guttmacher Institute, etc., to try to insinuate that this tiny human being is so small as to be irrelevant. That is what human beings are supposed to look like at that stage of development; that is normal!

** In days, the cells of the egg arrange themselves into groupings **

1. FALSE. An "egg" has no multiple "cells" to arrange; it consists of just one cell, and is not an embryo.

2. FALSE. It is not "the egg" that enters the uterus, nor even the "fertilized egg" that enters the uterus. It is the 5-7 day old human being at the "free blastocyst" Stage 3 of development that enters the uterus to begin implantation, and this human embryo consists of up to 100 cells. Once implantation has begun, the embryo is referred to as the "implanting blastocyst" (Stage 4), and then it takes another week to finish implantation.

3. FALSE. It is the whole embryo, the blastocyst, who is the human being, and who causes his/her cells to be arranged in certain ways.

28  [Back]

** The inner cell mass will become your baby; the outer cells will become the amnionic sac and the placenta. **

1. FALSE. Both the inner cell mass and the outer cell mass constitute the blastocyst -- your "baby" -- not just the cells of the inner cell mass.

2. FALSE. There is no absolute separation between these two cell layers of the blastocyst; Some of the cells from each cell mass end up in the "fetal membranes" and in the adult human being.29

3. FALSE. Note the use of the future tense: "will become your baby" -- which is to say that "your baby" isn't there yet. But your "baby" is also the early human embryo at the blastocyst stage of development that is clearly already existing and there.

** The blastocyst then sheds its protective casing **

1. PURPOSEFULLY VAGUE. Still no "baby" there yet, just a "blastocyst" that is an "egg" or a "fertilized egg". Not even an "embryo" there yet.

** Around week 5 your developing baby is the size of a sesame seed. **

1. TRUE. Ah, finally, you have a "baby" at least by 5 weeks post-fertilization!

2. PROPAGANDA. Again, the phrase "the size of a sesame seed" is passé prochoice propaganda and is used to minimalize the significance of this tiny human being. But that is what human beings are supposed to look like at that stage of development; that is normal!

** The cells that once formed the blastocyst inner cell mass begin organizing and arranging, giving shape to the young embryo and primitive organs. **

1. FALSE. Again, the new "baby" is not derived only from the inner cell mass, but from the entire whole blastocyst (both inner and outer cell layers).

2. FALSE. It is the whole blastocyst that organizes these cells, not the inner cell layer.

3. FALSE. And are we to believe that the "embryo" finally makes his/her appearance "about 5 weeks" post-fertilization? No, the embryo begins as a single-cell organism at the beginning of the process of fertilization in the woman's fallopian tube.

4. PROPAGANDA. The "shape" of the young embryo, as well as the embryo him/herself, have already been there long before 5 weeks, since the beginning of the process of fertilization; and those various shapes are normal, what the new developing human embryo is supposed to look like at those stages of development.

** By week 9 the embryonic tail is gone. **

1. FALSE. The developing early human embryo never has any "tail". This scientific falsehood has long been rejected by human embryologists.30 It is a myth derived mainly from the long-defunct and formally scientifically rejected "biogenetics law"31 and similar passé "theories".

** Your baby's looking more human every day. **

1. FALSE. Your baby looks fully human at every single stage of development, including from the beginning of fertilization in your fallopian tube through birth (and beyond). That is what human beings are supposed to look like at those different Stages of development.

2. Sounds like a regress back centuries to the absurd and very passé "homunculus" theory of human development! Do women and men these days really think that their new "baby" is preformed to look like a child at birth -- and then only from 9 weeks on?! And only then it shouldn't be aborted? Interesting that in Islamic "human embryology" today, the term "embryo" is used (only after implantation), but by that term they do not mean that the embryo is a human being. For them there is no human being present until about 9 weeks (when the fetal period begins), and only then if the Archangel Gabriel is sent by God to infuse a soul.32

III. Conclusion

It should be clear by now. Junk in, junk out -- and innumerous innocent really living human beings damaged or destroyed.

Next Page: References
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