A pro-life doctor has responded to a viral TikTok video by biochemist @kendall.lincoln, who erroneously claimed that a human fetus is nothing more than a parasite — and therefore, can be ethically killed through abortion.
“This viral video about fetuses being parasites is honestly the perfect example of what happens when you give a first year undergrad a small bit of technical knowledge and a camera,” Dr. Calum Miller wrote on Twitter. “(I’m not saying she is a first year undergrad — just that she comes across like one).”
This viral video about fetuses being parasites is honestly the perfect example of what happens when you give a first year undergrad a small bit of technical knowledge and a camera https://t.co/cmrOJdwRL0
— Calum Miller (@DrCalumMiller) July 14, 2022
An embryo or fetus is not a parasite
“When scientists say that a fetus is a parasite, that’s not them being an ***hole. That’s them being accurate,” argues @kendall.lincoln.
She then shows the Oxford definition of parasite which clearly states (emphasis added), “[A]n organism that lives in or on an organism of another species (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the other’s expense.”
By the definition (which she gives), a parasite feeds off of a species other than its own, which would mean a human zygote or embryo or fetus could not be a parasite because he is the same species as his mother. Despite the clear hole in her argument based on definition, she continues to argue that the embryo acts a parasite that has invaded the woman by having a protective membrane so that the mother’s body doesn’t see him “as a foreign body and try to expel it.” She adds, “That means kill it, by the way.” She also claims that because it is the embryo who makes the placenta, and “plugs it into your body without you knowing,” he is like a parasite.
“The first thing the fetus does is invade. The fetus is the aggressor here,” she says.
Dr. Miller speaks to her scientific errors, saying that it “isn’t plausible” that the fetus is invading the mother because the fetus is in his natural habitat through no fault of his own due to the mother’s choice to have sex. “It is like saying the person in the apartment above you invaded your apartment because you smashed your ceiling/their floor in. Its basically just putting a moral spin onto some rudimentary biological facts and it is embarrassing,” he explains.
In addition, as much as the mother’s body gives to the child, the child gives back to the mother. “[T]he baby produces stem cells which go round mum’s body… healing her tissues, e.g. from heart attacks, strokes, liver damage, and more,” explains Dr. Miller. “One leading scholar concludes. ‘after the mother spends 9 months providing nutrients and an environment for optimal growth and development of the baby, the baby gives back cells with regenerative… potential to the mother… it is the mother who benefits.”
A parasite does not do this.
The embryo is not “tricking” the mother’s body
@kendall.lincoln argues that the mother’s body doesn’t want to be pregnant but is being “tricked” into it by her baby. She claims, “It’s only after the fetus implants the placenta into your uterine lining that the body gets tricked into thinking it’s not a foreign body anymore.”
She argues there are three ways in which the embryo or fetus tricks the mother, including by using the “exact mechanism” used by parasites, by forcing the mother to stop menstruating, and by having immune cells to protect himself from the mother. She argues the mother is therefore not obligated to continue the pregnancy and care for her baby.
But parents are actually obligated — legally — to care for their children.
Dr. Miller shares why these statements are inaccurate. He writes, “She seems to think there is an interesting difference between the ‘body knowing it’s pregnant’ and the fetus ‘tricking’ the body into knowing that its there through hCG. Obviously the only way the body could know that it is pregnant is by some sort of signal from the fetus… To try and distinguish these is unintelligible. This is like saying that your body doesn’t know that it is cold: the cold forces your body to warm up. They are one and the same thing.”
He adds, “She seems to think it is significant that the fetus makes the placenta and puts it into your body without you knowing. 99% of things in our body are done without us knowing so this is obviously not significant in any way.”
This is how the immune system works
Her claim that the embryo further tricks the mother by preventing her from fighting off the embryo as a foreign object is also inaccurate.
Dr. Miller states, “She seems to suggest that the outer layer of the zygote/embryo preventing an immune response is a ‘trick’. But the immune system helps to clear the debris from any cell rupturing, including the mother’s cells. That doesn’t show the cell is an ‘invader’. She seems to think it is interesting that parasites and fetuses occasionally use some similar mechanisms for evading an immune response. That is how evolution works. There are occasional similarities between how parasites and the mother’s cells evade immune responses too – but this is clearly irrelevant.”
He continues, “Suppressor cells do the same job for the mother’s cells [as she says they do for the fetus’ cells], preventing them from being attacked — but we wouldn’t call it a ‘trick’ as if her cells are actually invaders.”
Dr. Miller explains that based on @kendall.lincoln’s false logic, the entire immune system could be seen as a trick. It has developed to ensure only foreign things — like viruses — are attacked and not the person’s own cells. “This isn’t a ‘trick’ […],” he explains,”it’s just how the immune system had to evolve… To try and extract a narrative out of this is frankly completely bizarre.”
This is how reproduction works
Dr. Miller notes that it is true the baby cannot exist in the first stages of development without the mother, but it is because he is an entirely different person than his mother that he has to avoid immune system attacks. He doesn’t have immunity protection because he is parasitic, but because he has his own unique DNA from his mother. He is a new and distinct human being.
“You could just as easily (in fact more so) interpret it as the clever mechanism nature has come up with to defend both a mother and her baby from autoimmunity,” says Dr. Miller. “Calling it a trick is really just assuming the conclusion – that the fetus doesn’t belong there. But the falsehood of the conclusion is actually more obvious than its truth – obviously the fetus belongs there, that is how reproduction works and that is why any animals exist at all.”
Pregnancy is normal
Dr. Miller concludes with what so many abortion enthusiasts seem to have forgotten — pregnancy is a normal, biological function and a normal, biological result of sex. “Pregnancy is normal,” writes Dr. Miller. “It is beautiful. Let’s stop dehumanizing women and children by pathologising it.”
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