Newt Gingrich: life does not begin until implantation

In an interview with ABC News, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said he believes that life doesn’t begin until implantation. Science, though, has proven that life begins earlier, at fertilization.1

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Gingrich said: “I think the question of being implanted is a very big question. My friends who have ideological positions that sound good don’t then follow through the logic of: ‘So how many additional potential lives are they talking about? What are they going to do as a practical matter to make this real?’”

He added: “I think that if you take a position when a woman has fertilized egg and that’s been successfully implanted that now you’re dealing with life.” He concluded that “otherwise you’re going to open up an extraordinary range of very difficult questions.”

Gingrich falsely described the scientific position that life begins at fertilization as “ideological.” He then questioned the logic of the scientific position, using an illogical argument to defend his own unscientific position.

First, Gingrich incorrectly labeled human life at fertilization as merely “potential” life. But zygotes, embryos, and fetuses, just like children, adolescents, and adults, are human lives at different stages of development. And zygotes, embryos, and fetuses are human lives even if not legally recognized as human lives. So we’re not talking about potential lives, we’re talking about existing lives.

Second, he based his belief, and his position, on a strategic analysis of the consequences. But the consequences don’t change the fact of when human life begins.

Gingrich spoke of avoiding “difficult questions.” Coming from someone running for the highest office in the land, this is telling.

A true leader tackles difficult questions.

1. Carlson BM. Human Embryology and Developmental Biology. 3rd Edition. Mosby, 2004.
1. Moore KL, Persaud TVN. The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology. 8th Edition. Saunders, 2007.
1. O’Rahilly R, Müller F. Human Embryology & Teratology. 3rd Edition. Wiley-Liss, 2001.

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