As I was reading Maaike Rosendal’s new article about in vitro fertilization (IVF), it reminded me of a recent conversation I had with a student during “Choice” Chain. IVF has many troubling ethical implications, and I encourage you to read the article in order to understand how it harms and even kills many pre-born children. Discussing IVF can, however, help pro-lifers to show skeptical people an important truth: we know when human life begins.
I asked a student at York University what he thought about abortion, and offered him a pamphlet. Abdul stopped and started looking at the pamphlet, and told me that he didn’t have a strong opinion on abortion. He listed a couple of arguments from pro-choice and pro-life perspectives, and said that he wasn’t sure which side to believe. We discussed human rights, and he agreed that human rights should be for every human being. As we looked at the 7-week embryo on the pamphlet, he was surprised by how developed she was: “That sure looks like a human. Yeah, that looks like a person.”
I drew Abdul’s attention to the other photos of children aborted in the first-trimester, and I asked him what he thought about those photos. He told me that he now agreed that abortion from 7 or 8 weeks onward was wrong, because the child looked so developed. “I’m glad that we can agree that a huge percentage of abortions aren’t okay,” I said to him. “Why do you think that abortions are okay earlier than 7 weeks, though? Shouldn’t human rights begin when a human being’s life begins?” Abdul told me that he didn’t think that there is a full human being right at fertilization, because the zygote is a single cell and is so much less developed than 7 or 8 week embryos.
I said to him, “Let's set aside for a moment the question of abortion and whether it ends a life. Let's look at when we want to create a new human life. If I wanted to create a new human life, outside of the normal means of people having sex, what process would I replicate in a lab? Would I do in-vitro...heartbeat? Or in-vitro brainwaves?”
“No,” he said, “You'd do in-vitro fertilization.”
“And why is that?” I asked.
He answered, “Because that's when everything begins...Oh wait, I see what you mean!”
It was just the ‘lightbulb’ moment that I hoped he would have.
We were going to continue the conversation, but Abdul realized that he was late for his class. We shook hands and he rushed off, pamphlet in hand. While I was not able to confirm whether he left completely pro-life, I know that he left with a new understanding of the humanity of even the tiniest embryo.