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Letters to the Editor

Abortion and Science

The debate over how to appropriately balance faith, philosophy, and science in the public sphere will continue to grow as we move further into the 21st century. Whether the argument concerns teaching Intelligent Design, funding embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, or other controversial issues, it seems many scientists gravitate away from the side expressing the strongest religious sentiments.

The apparent dichotomies between scientists and religionists are often illusional, however. This crossed my mind in particular at the annual Respect Life Walk on the Boston Common last Sunday. As I stood on the grass and listened to the speakers, my gaze often drifted to the face of my seven-month-old son, and I smiled as I realized how incredibly similar his profile was to an ultrasound picture of him a year ago. The blob of tissue argument that powered the Pro-Choice movement for a number of years has all but disappeared as ever-increasing scientific advances allow us to view the unborn child in utero.

Embryology texts unanimously agree that the process of fertilization leads to a new, individual human life. I consequently find it frustrating to deal with scientists, even at MIT, who try to concoct two-bit philosophical arguments to dismiss the significance of fertilization by viewing life as a continuum. Others effectively view the birth canal as a magical tunnel that somehow bestows legal and ethical rights to children lucky enough to pass through it. Ironically, Pro-Choice arguments are desperately turning more philosophical and ethereal in the face of cold, hard biological facts; scientific advances are ensuring that these facts can no longer be ignored. There is no doubt that the Pro-Life movement has the scientific upper ground, no matter how many scientists refuse to admit it. After glancing up from my son’s face for perhaps the hundredth time, I noticed the march was finally underway. To some, this was about religion; to others, it was about science. To me, it was about truth, wherever it was to be found. A large banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe was beginning to file silently past the raucous protesters. I got up and followed.

Adam Nolte G