At a recent White House press conference, President Joe Biden said, “I respect those who believe life begins at the moment of conception. I don’t agree, but I respect that. I’m not going to impose that on people.”
But, Mr. President, it’s not a matter of belief. It’s a matter of well established science that human life begins at conception.
Years ago I attended a pro-life conference hosted by Americans United for Life where the late highly distinguished French pediatrician and geneticist Dr. Jerome Lejeune — who discovered the extra chromosome that causes Down Syndrome — was the keynote speaker. After his presentation, I was able to ask him a most important question. I said, “Dr. Lejeune, when does human life begin?” And in his beautiful French accent he said, “At conception, of course.” And I followed up by asking him if any of his colleagues disagreed with him. And he replied, “No, we all know when life begins. But we don’t all agree as to when life deserves protection.”
For Lejeune, a devout Catholic who was declared “Venerable” by Pope Francis — it was logically and morally crystal clear that human life deserves protection at the beginning. That is, at conception!
Lejeune was a selfless defender of unborn human life, and thus a powerful opponent of abortion. He was often called upon by various governments to give expert testimony as to the fact that human life begins at conception/fertilization.
With scientific clarity Lejeune stated: “To accept the fact that, after fertilization has taken place, a new human has come into being, is no longer a matter of taste or of opinion. The human nature of the human being from conception to old age is not a metaphysical contention. It is plain, experimental evidence.”
As eloquent as Lejeune was in revealing the scientific truth that human life begins at conception, he is not the only scientific voice declaring this fact. There are many other experts who fully agree that human life begins at conception.
Is there ever a morally acceptable reason to kill a newborn baby — for any reason whatsoever? Of course not. And likewise, there is never a morally acceptable reason to kill an unborn baby.
Knowing the full humanity of our unborn brothers and sisters, how can we possibly ignore the ongoing brutal threats of abortion facing them? Instead, let’s do all within our power to pray, educate, motivate, witness and lobby to end abortion — with no exceptions. And in conjunction with that, let’s strive likewise to support women struggling in difficult pregnancy situations, giving them the help they need to carry their unborn babies to term, and to continue that needed help after giving birth.
And if somehow, you still need more convincing that scientifically, human life begins at conception and that the unborn are beyond all doubt human beings, there is a marvelous PBS/TED Talk video by Alexander Tsiaras titled “Conception to Birth” that will put any doubts to rest!
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan and parish gatherings nationwide about Catholic social teaching. His keynote address, “Advancing the Kingdom of God in the 21st Century,” has been well-received by audiences from Santa Clara, Calif., to Baltimore, Md. Tony can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.