Following comments that seemed to suggest human life does not begin until a fetus’s heart starts beating, Life News reports that presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson has clarified he does believe life begins at conception.
In an interview with ABC News over the weekend, the retired neurosurgeon said, “I believe that once conception has been achieved, that is a human life.”
Carson further explained that his earlier reference to heartbeats was not an expression of his own view but an attempt to identify a hallmark that would get people to intuit that life begins much earlier than birth. “I think most people can come to the conclusion that once you have a heartbeat, that you clearly have a living organism.”
However, questions remain over his previous endorsement of emergency contraception in rape cases, which despite its name can act as an abortifacient by preventing the implantation of an already-conceived embryo. At issue may be whether he defines conception as fertilization, the point at which a new human being actually comes into existence, or as the embryo’s implantation into the uterus.
The American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology redefined conception to mean implantation in 1965, though it did not change the underlying fact that an embryo is created prior to implantation.
In addition, a campaign spokesman responded to a follow-up question on rape or incest exceptions by declaring, “Dr. Carson believes abortion is not acceptable after conception.”
Carson is running as a pro-life Republican. Over the past few years, he has been outspoken against abortion, comparing the practice to slavery and condemning its relation to the racist ideals of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger.