Life Begins at Conception, But Not All Agree

Steven Mosher
PRI Weekly Briefing
13 August 2004
Vol. 6 / No. 27
Reproduced with Permission

Last week we reported on the case of the 11 Alabama nurses who resigned from the Alabama Department of Public Health and 50 health care workers who requested reassignment to avoid having to distribute the Plan-B morning-after-pill. They objected to being involved with chemical abortions.

What's the fuss, responded the man in charge of family planning for the health department. According to Dr. Tom Miller, emergency contraceptives do not cause a woman to abort a growing fetus, like the RU-486 pill does. Instead, he says, it prevents a fertilized egg from attaching to the lining of the uterus.

But just what is a fertilized egg actually a developing embryo, to use proper scientific terminology if not human life? And if a drug that renders a mother's body inhospitable to life stops its development, is this not an abortion?

People who are not ideologues for causes like population control, abortion "rights" and so-called "family planning", know in their gut that there is something wrong unnatural about pills, drugs and potions that interrupt the normal course of things, especially things as delicate and beautiful as human reproduction. There is a reason these things are forbidden by the Hippocratic oath that all physicians, at least until recently, have taken when they receive their medical degrees. And that is why these brave Alabama nurses were instinctively repulsed by the idea of distributing the morning-after-pill.

Not that the revolt of the nurses gives Dr. Miller pause. Rather he falls back on the standard liberal jibe that they are trying to impose their personal religious views on others. "It's not appropriate for me or any other group to dictate public health policy based on personal beliefs,[1] he says. Yet this is precisely what he is doing in his absurd and idiosyncratic claim that human life begins not at conception but at implantation.

To bolster the view that Dr. Miller represents scientific wisdom and the nurses religious obscurantism, The Montgomery Advertiser quotes a Nurse Tyner as saying that "The medical definition is that you are not pregnant until the egg implants. The Christian definition is that you are pregnant after conception" and says she is wrong."

But Tyner is only wrong in suggesting that her position is a sectarian one. It is not merely the Christian definition that life begins at conception; it is the scientific and medical definition as well.

This theory is about as much in doubt as that the earth goes round the sun.

Yet the U.N.-controlled World Health Organization, ever ready to do the bidding of the family planners, has obligingly redefined pregnancy to begin at implantation. It seems that there is a lot of money to be made by selling the morning-after-pill, and inconvenient truths must be got out of the way. The war on people must go on.


[1] Montgomery Advertiser editorial of July 7, 2004.