In the article “Hundreds rally for abortion rights in Portland,” the overturning of Roe v. Wade (June 25), the Portland Press Herald quotes Reverend Jane Field, executive director of the Maine Council of Churches. She says some people believe that life begins at conception, then asserts “it’s a religious belief, not a scientific fact…Religious beliefs shouldn’t be the law because then they impose a version of religion on everybody”.
With all due respect, Reverend Field is wrong. Human embryologists agree that life begins at conception and that the zygote is a genetically unique whole human being. A zygote, embryo, and fetus are what human beings look like at this stage of their development.
The American College of Pediatricians agrees with scientific evidence that life begins at conception.
Where people differ in their opinions is when the personality (also known as the “soul”) begins; this is indeed a philosophical question, with many considering personality to be an integral part of being human, and thus in their view, it is highly likely that personality is established at the point of fertilization.
Abortion ends the life of a human being; It is a scientific fact. Whether it ends a person’s life is a philosophical question. We cannot have a meaningful conversation about the morality of abortion without acknowledging both facts and beliefs.
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