Part Two of STUCK covers the Human Rights Argument (HRA) in detail. The last blog post of this series gave you a brief overview of what using this argument could look like. Brief doesn’t do this powerful tool justice, and another look at how deep the simple questions of the HRA can go is important, particularly when someone states: “But we don’t actually know when life begins.” Most of us are not scientists. While I enjoyed biology class it was never one of my strong points. On the outset, we may be intimidated by the idea that we must prove what we inherently know to be true: human life begins at fertilization. The second part of STUCK assures us that we do not need to be intimidated, because the pro-life case is not founded on what we may hope to be true or believe to be true. It is based on objective, scientific fact. The claim that we cannot pinpoint the precise moment when a human being comes into existence, is, as STUCK points out, completely false:

There is a scientific consensus on when life begins. The embryology textbook The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 10th edition states the following:  “Human development begins at fertilization when a sperm fuses with an oocyte to form a single cell, the zygote. [This] marks the beginning of each of us as an unique individual.”

Several more textbooks are quoted to emphasize this point. However, translating what we know into a conversational strategy that can be used on the streets is not as simple as reciting what we have learned from textbooks. CCBR staff developed another simple strategy, asking those who are struggling with this question: “Do you agree that life could begin at one of three points: before fertilization, at fertilization, or after fertilization?” Another testimony from a member of staff (Meagan Vande Bruinhorst) illustrates how to use this argument:

Hello, what do you think about abortion?I asked a young man walking by.

I dont really know. I guess if its a baby, abortion is wrong. But we dont really know when life begins, do we?” He grinned. “Its probably something I should be thinking about, though. I’m studying pre-nursing at the moment.

Thats a great question! Would you agree with me that life can only begin at one of three points: before fertilization, at fertilization, or at some point after fertilization?

He thought for a moment and then nodded. That makes sense.

Can a sperm left alone in a mans body, or an egg left alone in a womans ever grow and develop into a mature human being?

Nope, it doesnt work that way!

Right, so we know that life cant begin before fertilization. Lets take some point after fertilization. Do doctors bring us babies in their black bags?

He laughed. Okay, I see where youre going with this.

Obviously not,I agreed. We know that infants grew and developed from younger versions of themselves, fetuses. And do pregnant women wake up in the middle of the night with a fetus moving and kicking inside of them?

Nope, they were embryos first.

Right, and where does the embryo come from?

Ummm . . . Fertilization?

Right! Science tells us that at the moment of fertilization, a whole, distinct, living human being comes into existence.

“That really makes sense!” He agreed. We talked for little longer about how important it is to know how to explain why abortion is wrong, particularly in the medical field. Before he left, he thanked me for talking with him, agreeing that abortion is a human rights violation.


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