The abortion crowd’s selective science

Langman Medical Embryology

Planting an entire forest of ignorance.

Of all the false premises the abortion lobby carpet-bombs our culture with, perhaps the most aggravatingly preposterous is their claim to a monopoly on respecting science. The truth is that they’re the first to reject science when it suits them, denying established knowledge with a zeal that makes Samuel Shenton look like Stephen Hawking.

Case in point: at RH Reality Check, Dr. Tracey Wilkinson opines on the danger of public officials “plant[ing] a bad seed” of scientific misinformation in the public’s mind. Her primary example, of course, is Todd Akin’s claim that the female body can shut down the reproductive process during rape.

Fair enough – bad science is bad science, though for what it’s worth, there’s little reason to worry about this seed taking root. The media instantly took to shouting Akin’s wrongness from the rooftops, his own side almost universally condemned him, and even efforts to characterize this as more than an isolated incident fell short, considering that the most recent instance they could find of someone else saying the same thing was in 1999. Considering the nonsense politicians spout every day on every other issue, a myth popping up once every 13 years is nothing.

Unfortunately, Wilkinson next goes from overemphasizing a real falsehood to planting a bad seed of her own:

Yet despite numerous scientific studies proving that emergency contraception is safe and works by preventing fertilization, and despite its FDA approval, controversy around this medication still exists and is propagated when public officials falsely claim that the morning-after pill is an abortifacient. This misinformation surrounding the morning-after pill creates obstacles for people who are legally allowed to purchase it.

Originally, pro-aborts tried to deny that contraceptives could be abortive by sowing confusion about whether “conception” meant fertilization or implantation. Since that didn’t work, they’ve now moved to arguing that “no evidence” suggests that birth control pills prevent implantation. While it’s true that pro-lifers need to be careful about what the science does and doesn’t show, such blanket declarations from pro-choicers are even more unfounded.

First, it’s not pro-lifers who planted this idea in people’s heads, but the Food and Drug Administration’s labeling and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ own admission to that effect. Second, the Obama administration’s contraception mandate includes Ella, which is abortive (indeed, Ella’s website admits that it “may also work by preventing attachment to the uterus”). Third, as the American Association of Pro-Life OBGYNs’ Dr. Donna Harrison explains:

And here, abortion proponents speak out of both sides of their mouth. The quote from Trussell in the NYT article was particularly amusing. If you read his previous research papers, sometimes he claims over 90 percent efficacy from Plan B, and sometimes he claims around 50 percent efficacy. Why these differences? Well, as he so readily admits, you can’t get numbers of 90 percent efficacy without some sort of post-fertilization effect. So when the issue of mechanism of action is raised, suddenly the efficacy for Plan B gets “adjusted” to what would be expected from a drug with no post-fertilization effect. But, when issues of funding arise . . . well Plan B becomes much more effective.

But by far the biggest indicator of who really respects science is embryology. The single most important question of the abortion debate is, “What does abortion destroy?” The answer determines whether or not there is an abortion debate; if it were somehow proven that abortion does not destroy a live human being, the pro-life movement would collapse almost overnight. So you’d think anyone trying to develop a responsible, informed position on the subject would take great care to learn what the science says.

On this question, the science is undeniable. The life of an individual, distinct, genetically complete human being begins with fertilization. The terms blastocyst, zygote, embryo, and fetus all denote stages in the development of the same organism. Mainstream biology textbooks make this clear, as do the admissions of abortion’s more honest defenders, such as Faye Wattleton, David Boonin, and Peter Singer.

And yet, scientific illiteracy about when life begins is peddled with far more regularity than rape misinformation, and by far more influential people than an obscure, unpopular Missouri congressman.  The president of the United States says figuring it out is “beyond my pay grade.” The Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, denies that “anybody can tell you when life begins.” Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz claims that it’s “extreme and radical” for law to tell the truth about fetal development. The glaring scientific falsehoods on Planned Parenthood’s website include lying about whether “medical authorities” refer to fetuses as “babies,” claiming that pregnancy doesn’t begin until implantation, and suggesting that embryos are “alive” only in the same way an individual egg or sperm cell is alive.

Indeed, Wilkinson’s own organization, Physicians for Reproductive Choice, completely ducks the issue. Searching through their website, I’ve failed to find an example of the group engaging the question head-on…though I have found their chair, Dr. Douglas Laube, sneering about making policy “just to give legal rights to fertilized eggs,” without an argument to back up his condescension, and their 2010 policy agenda’s claim that “attempts to define legal personhood as beginning at conception are “without scientific foundation.” No, they didn’t bother to give that statement scientific foundation, either.

Before Todd Akin, I cannot recall ever hearing one of my fellow pro-lifers claim that rape victims’ bodies can shut down reproduction, yet pro-choicers telling me life begins sometime other than fertilization – sometimes consciousness, sometimes viability, sometimes birth – is an almost daily occurrence. For all their caterwauling over Akin’s bad seed, abortion apologists have yet to take responsibility for the forest of ignorance they’ve planted.

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