A new study has found that 96% of biologists believe that life begins at fertilization.
Steve Jacobs began the study as a part of his dissertation for his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago’s department of Comparative Human Development. In a recent article he published in Quillette, Jacobs revealed his findings. He also relayed the backlash he’s received from pro-abortion advocates after publishing his study.
In his study he, “emailed surveys to professors in the biology departments of over 1,000 institutions around the world.” The results determined that the vast majority of biologists believe that life begins at conception. Jacobs writes, “I found that 5,337 biologists (96%) affirmed that a human’s life begins at fertilization, with 240 (4%) rejecting that view.”
This finding is even more stunning since the vast majority of the biologists surveyed were liberal, pro-choice and non-religious. “The majority of the sample identified as liberal (89%), pro-choice (85%) and non-religious (63%). In the case of Americans who expressed party preference, the majority identified as Democrats (92%).”
Jacobs received several responses from pro-choice biologists who were angry because they were asked about the beginnings of human life.
One biologist responded by e-mail, “This is some stupid right to life thing… yuck I believe in the right to choice!” Another replied, “Sorry this looks like it’s more a religious survey to be used by radicals to advertise about the beginning of life and not a survey about what faculty know about biology. Your advisor can contact me.”
Yet Jacobs didn’t begin the survey to support the pro-life position. His goal was to poll scientists to see if a compromise could be found in the abortion debate. He wrote, “As a lawyer, mediator and researcher, I sought to assess whether there is room for compromise.”
Jacobs then tries to explain how to rectify the fact that practically all biologists recognize that life begins at conception, even though the majority of them are pro-choice.
Jacobs wrote, “Philosophers such as Peter Singer and Judith Jarvis Thomson have outlined abortion defenses that recognize a fetus’ humanity, while also rejecting the argument that fetuses have rights.” In other words, Jacobs thinks it’s possible to draw a distinction between when life begins, and whether preborn babies are persons and should be protected.
Drawing a distinction between one’s “humanity” and one’s “personhood” is an extremely dangerous path to go down. Every horrific abuse of human rights in history, including slavery and the Holocaust, has occurred based on the premise that you can acknowledge one’s humanity while denying one’s personhood.
Peter Singer, the notorious Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, has also argued for infanticide. In his book Practical Ethics, Singer wrote, “Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons. But animals are self-aware, and therefore, the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog or a chimpanzee.”
Singer here makes the argument that the value of life is determined by one’s self-awareness, and not a human being’s intrinsic value. If a human’s worth is determined by self-awareness, do people lose their infinite worth and value when they are sleeping? Is it ok to kill a person who has been knocked unconscious? Obviously, no. A human being’s worth is intrinsic and innate, not dependent upon their size, location, level of development or self-awareness.
Again, it’s extremely dangerous to draw a distinction between one’s “humanity” and one’s “personhood.”
Some pro-choice advocates argue that the science is not settled as to when life begins. They are wrong. This survey demonstrates that life begins at conception. Ninety-six percent of thousands of biologists at 1,000 different universities believe that’s the case.
We are told all the time that the reality of “climate change” is settled science because 97% of scientists agree. Well by that standard, the science demonstrating that life begins at conception couldn’t be more settled.
The debate about when life begins is over. The science is clear, and scientists agree. Life begins at conception.