Reflections on Roe v. Wade and its Effect on Society

C. Ward Kischer
assisted by Eric Kischer
February 9, 2019
Reproduced with Permission

In the early 1950s a coordinated attack on the principles supporting the prohibition of abortion began to enter the public discourse. Eventually this all culminated in the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe V. Wade, which brought forth a plethora of comments on human embryology, many of which proved not to be true.

One of the many fallacies that emerged, is the notion that an early stage embryo, is not an "individual." Science informs otherwise. But the political process, possibly in an attempt to avoid the Constitutional protection of the "individual" has desperately sought to re-write science to support a legal framework that assisted lawmakers in constructing the legal termination of an individual unborn life, without due process.

Even though science and specifically, the accepted "Carnegie Stages" dictate that the fertilized egg contains all that is needed for a new "individual", the convoluted information from "experts" created enough confusion in the Scalia Court, that Justice Scalia himself, was not able to formulate a true legal definition of the individual. The purposeful confusion infused into the Supreme Court, inspired then, graduate student, Dianne N. Irving, to dissect the arguments, put forth by the pro-choice crowd. Today, Professor Dianne N. Irving is a retired professor of Biology and noted author on the topic of human development. Yet, for 60 years or so Professor Irving has suffered many personal attacks because of her stance that humanizes embryos and fetuses, a stance fully supported by real science.

Below are various "influencers" whom I contacted or attempted to contact during the course of my career, and the experience, I as a scientist, had in attempting to offer a scientific point of view.

Keith Moore - retired Anatomy professor from the University of Toronto, Winnipeg, Canada. He used the term "pre-embryo" in his textbook of Human Anatomy until I discovered and wrote him to remove it, which he did. That was approximately ten years ago. To my knowledge he has not used that term again.

Patti Caldwell - Former head of the Tucson Planned Parenthood, 2007-2010. I called her twice to suggest we both appear on a talk show hosted by Mark Kimble, head of the editorial page and editor of the Tucson Citizen. Kimble said he thought it was a good idea but it never came to pass.

Clifford Grobstein - noted American Biologist. I wrote him twice inviting him to debate me on the subject of the false "pre-embryo". He never answered my letter.

Leon Kass - was appointed head of The Presidents Council on Bioethics, under George W. Bush. I wrote Kass twice, volunteering to be on his committee or to testify before the committee. I received one reply thanking me for my letter but nothing more.

Mary J.C. Hendricks - Professor of Biology and presently President of Shepherd University. Earned her Ph.D from George Washington University and her BS from Shepherd. Professor Hendricks testified in a hearing, supporting the idea that the oocyte is not living. She also stated that the oocyte was so tiny it could fit on the tip of a needle, figuratively reducing its importance as an independent organism.

Rene Shapiro - Editor of The Kennedy Institute for Ethics. I submitted a manuscript, twice, explaining the fallacy of the term "pre-embryo" as a descriptor of a "non-individual": The first submission received no response. Then when I asked for a response for the second submission, I received one word, written on the returned manuscript.... "fossilized." In this case, apparently real science, unchallenged, is out of vogue with the editor of a bioethics publication.

William Williams - editor of Linacre Quarterly. Held my manuscript for 6 weeks, without distribution to reviewers. Williams himself had no rejection comments, and I was shocked that he would hold the manuscript, prohibiting review.

Robert McCuskey. I taught human embryology at the University of Arizona for 19 years. During this time I collected and dissected 62 specimens of human embryo and fetuses. They were meticulously handled so that the students from my classes could recognize the relationships of membranes and development of one organ to another. I tried to interest an embryologist in guest speaking to my medical students, who was teaching undergrads on the main campus, but he wanted no part of instructing Medical Students in the highly politicized environment of the Medical College. The head of the department, McCuskey wanted no part of it either. So I subsequently had the 63 specimens donated to the Department of Biology at Miami University of Ohio.

Final Thoughts

Religion offers a moral point of view while Science offers a "known facts" perspective, but on the issue of human development science has been degraded and religion, especially Christianity, has been under attack for many years, over its stance on human development. The principle of the sanctity of life, which has normally been confined to churches, religious schools, and private groups, has provided public moral support, toward recognizing the human nature of the embryo. However, as the Scalia Court has born out, the concept of the "sanctity of life" is not the same as "protection of the individual."

As a Ph.D., Medical College Professor, Embryologist, and lifelong publisher of scientific research, I am disappointed that politicians and legislators, who had no need to corrupt established scientific principles, did so and sought out willing scientists to corrupt their professional disciplines. This occurred, simply because government lacked the will to establish a "due process" of life termination of unborn individuals for desirous citizen parents. The science is clear and the law is clear, as enunciated by Justice Antonin Scalia, in that the Constitution guarantees due process for all individuals. By cowardly removing the status of "individual" from the unborn, government avoids the guilt of "death by due process." And it is a decision that cannot stand forever, in its current form. The simple reason for this, is that individuality of the fertilized egg, is an absolute. And that is science.