Former Planned Parenthood president Alan F. Guttmacher, M.D once made the claim that the preborn baby in the womb is not a human being until it is born, and yet, for decades, he had previously claimed that a human being’s life began at fertilization. Guttmacher, a former VP of the American Eugenics Society, was the first medical doctor to head Planned Parenthood and was instrumental in leading the organization to begin committing abortions. His unscientific remark was made in a panel discussion moderated by Richard D. Lamm in 1969. At the time of the panel, Lamm was a Democrat member of the Colorado House of Representatives and chief sponsor of Colorado’s law to decriminalize abortion — the first state to do so in 1967. (News of Lamm’s recent death on July 30, 2021, became public just before the publication of this article.)
When Guttmacher made his claim about birth and humanity, he was immediately taken to task… by psychiatrist Frank Ayd Jr., who schooled him on human development.
“My first point would be, of course, that abortion means that a human life is being taken,” Dr. Ayd said, adding:
Now to declare that any individual’s life, at any time from the moment of conception, is devoid of value, in my opinion is a judgment that no man has the right to make, and to end an individual’s life is murder, committed because it has been decided that he’s no longer a human being in need of help and protection, but merely an object whose worth is measured according to whether or not his continued existence or his destruction is expedient for someone or the nation.
Life begins at fertilization
And even as late as 1965, Guttmacher — along with one of Planned Parenthood’s vice presidents, Frederick Jaffe — published the book, “Planning your Family,” where on page 36, after Guttmacher and Jaffe explain the process of fertilization, they write, “Fertilization, then, has taken place; a baby has been conceived. After conception occurs, the egg attaches itself to the wall of the womb where it grows nine months until the baby is ready to be born.”
Then, on page 219 Guttmacher and Jaffe add:
… the essence of the process of conception is the dramatic moment when a healthy sperm cell from the male unites with a healthy egg, or ovum, from the female. The union of sperm and egg — called fertilization, or impregnation — takes place the instant a single sperm cell enters directly into the egg by penetrating its outside covering. Once this happens, pregnancy has started.
The union occurs in the Fallopian tube, down which the egg travels from the ovary. After fertilization, the egg completes its journey down the tube into the womb (uterus) where it grows throughout pregnancy and slowly develops into a baby.
In Guttmacher’s 1947 book, “The Story of Human Birth” he wrote, “The life of the foetus begins at the moment of fertilization, when a single cell of the male… fuses with a single cell of the female…”
In his book “Life in the Making,” published in 1933, Guttmacher wrote, “To the ancient Psalmist who asked: ‘Whence cometh life?’ we can answer: ‘From the union of two minute cells the sperm and the egg.'”
In 1968, Jaffe founded the PPFA Center for Family Planning Program Development, later renamed The Alan Guttmacher Institute, which became the research arm for Planned Parenthood. Jaffe was a Margaret Sanger Award recipient and once authored a controversial memo advocating eugenics through compulsory sterilization and abortion.
Abortion hurts women
In the panel debate, Dr. Ayd told Lamm that he opposed “any liberalization of abortion laws, especially for psychiatric, social, and economic indications.”
He noted, “Technically it is true, we can empty the womb of the baby, but we cannot scrape the idea of the baby out of the mother’s mind, and therefore there are going to be women who while in the early stages of pregnancy and being emotionally upset would be inclined to destroy the infant within their womb.”
Ayd knew that abortion was much more than the equivalent of having a tooth pulled. “Subsequently, although the infant has been removed by whatever termination method is used, the idea of having had a baby in her womb is still in her mind,” he said, “and that’s not easily eradicated, and subsequent feelings of guilt and things of this sort are real. We psychiatrists see them and we have to contend with them.”
At this point, Guttmacher became defensive and insisted that he was “no murderer,” even though he had committed abortions. He justified his actions by claiming that the “baby is not a human being until born…” and as such, a human life can be defined any way each individual person chooses.
“I think you have to define this process according to your own intellectual point of view, and perhaps your own social and religious background…” Guttmacher said.
Is the fetus a human being?
In his rebuttal to Guttmacher, Ayd asked a simple question: “Is the fetus a human being?”
He then went onto to say:
… [M]any abortion supporters say that the fetus is nothing more than a blob of protoplasm, nothing more than that, but I don’t think that they honestly recognize their own contradiction.
Now, if the fetus is not a human being, what is it that’s damaged in the early weeks of its experience by a viral infection such as rubella, by drugs, chemicals, x-rays and so forth, which is used to justify abortion?
If the fetus is not a human being, why are so many physicians and scientists spending millions of dollars and countless hours trying to develop a vaccine for rubella, trying to devise ways of avoiding birth defects, trying to develop an artificial placenta, trying to fertilize the ovum outside the body in a test tube and by artificial insemination and genetic engineering and genetic surgery, to enable man to improve the mere and remote descendant that he may have.
Now, furthermore, in this country, if the fetus is not a human being, then I must ask the question, why does the United States Food and Drug Administration caution against, or in some instances prohibit, the administration of certain drugs in the first three months of pregnancy?
Ayd ended his argument by stating, “to say that a fetus is not human is sheer nonsense.”
Ayd pointed out that all three men had developed from a fetus.
Guttmacher doubled down, “I was a fetus to be sure,” he said, but claimed he was only “a potential human” until he “was born.”
“I think that a fetus is until birth is a potential, you think a fetus is actual as a human being immediately after fertilization, so let’s agree on that and let’s go on,” Guttmacher said.
Nevertheless, Ayd made his point clear: the fetus is a human being.
“Dr. Guttmacher was a fetus, I was a fetus, you were a fetus. You see, our existence began this way, and for someone to terminate it, if someone had terminated the fetal existence of any one of the three of us, we wouldn’t be here on this panel today. So that the fetus is a human being,” Ayd said.
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