Professor presents 19 textbooks saying life begins at conception

Patrick A Trueman, who helped prepare a 1975 brief before the Illinois Supreme Court on the unborn child:

“We introduced an affidavit from a professor of medicine detailing 19 textbooks on the subject of embryology used in medical schools today which universally agreed that human life begins at conception… Those textbooks agree that is when human life begins. The court didn’t strike that down – the court couldn’t strike that down because there was a logical/biological basis for that law.”

Television program transcript “Abortion” Chattanooga, Tennessee, the John Ankerberg Evangelistic Association, 1982, 2 in John Ankerberg The Facts on Abortion (Smashwords Edition 2011)

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Author explains the process of conception

Writer and embryology expert William M Connolly describes the stages of the process of conception.

“Shortly after Fertilization:

DOUBLING: Several hours after conception, the sperm’s chromosomes are doubled inside the sperm’s nucleus, which had been within the sperm’s head, which entered the ovum. The sperm’s head dissolves after penetration of the ovum. The nucleus (pro–nucleus) remains intact. The nucleus travels across the egg’s cytoplasm toward the egg’s nucleus (pro-nucleus). The chromosomes inside the ovum’s nucleus double also.

RELEASE: When the nucleus with the male’s chromosomes nears the ovum’s nucleus, the nuclei’s walls seem to touch, almost fuse, then seem to weaken and dissolve into the fertilized egg’s cytoplasm, while the sperm’s and egg’s two sets of 23 chromosomes are released into the cytoplasm.

DOCKING: The result is four sets of 23 chromosomes in the cytoplasmic sea, not adrift, but drawn together, as if grappling hooks bound them. It is as if tethered ropes held them fast, and the great fleets of chromosomes were tugged towards each other, and pulled alongside each other. Ship to ship, as if the anchors were dropped and each ship of the fleet made its berth next to a sister ship alongside a magnificent, long, extended dock, jutting halfway across the intracellular sea. All the chromosomes are now lined up.

INTERLOCKING: Next, within the very first few hours of new human life, comes the amazing event of the interlocking of the sperm’s and egg’s chromosomes. After gracefully traversing intracellular space, avoiding impediments – sailing past Golgi apparatus, mitochondria, lysosomes, endoplasmic reticulum, the internal structures of every human cell – maintaining stability, rapidly restoring internal functioning to any genes damaged by ionizing radiation or mutagenic chemical interlopers, after the two fleets of chromosomes have met in flight in intracellular space and docked, an amazing interlocking process begins. Information is lined up. Lifelong links are firmly forged. Interlocking is completed.

DIVISION: The living processes continue, until the first human cell of this new, unique, human being becomes two cells, each with the identical genetic material of the first, each with 46 chromosomes. From now on, immediately before each cell division, which is known as a mitotic division, the 46 chromosomes are doubled. Each of the two new cells will have the same 46 chromosomes. Two cells become four, then eight, etc.

DIFFERENTATION: Mitotic divisions continue. Soon, a ball of cells is formed at the 16th cell stage; then a larger ball. Then comes differentiation, as cells begin to change detectably, to specialize, and transform gradually and gracefully, first into different tissues, ectoderm, mesoderm, endoderm, then into more specialized cells, nerve, muscle and bone, each with that unique 46 chromosomes of the original life form – the human life, the human being, the person.”

William M Connolly One Life: How the US Supreme Court Deliberately Distorted the History, Science and Law of Abortion (Xlibris, 2002) 227-229

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Nursing textbook defines embryo as young human

The textbook Nursing and Allied Health defines the embryo as:

“the human young from the time of fertilization of the ovum until the beginning of the third month.”

Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health (Philadelphia: WB Sanders Co., 1978) 2nd edition, 335

6 week old embryo
6 week old embryo
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Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary definitions

Here are some of Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary’s definitions of words pertaining to pregnancy and preborn children.


“The early or developing stage of any organism, especially the developing product of fertilization of the egg. In the human, the embryo is the developing individual from one week after conception to the end of the second month.”


“The unborn offspring of any viviparous animal; the developing young in the human uterus after the end of the second month.”


“1. The cell resulting from the fusion of two gametes; the fertilized ovum.

2. The individual developing from a cell formed by the union of two gametes.”


“Either of the two mature cells (ovum or sperm) which, when they unite, form a zygote which is a new individual.”

Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary (24th edition, 1965) 478 – 479, 547

This textbook was popular around the time of Roe V Wade. Pro-Life author William M Connolly wrote:

“Why didn’t the Supreme Court quote these definitions from Dorland’s work which made clear that from the moment of conception, a developing individual exists? The Supreme Court repeatedly quoted Dorland’s in Roe v. Wade.”

William M Connolly One Life: How the US Supreme Court Deliberately Distorted the History, Science and Law of Abortion (Xlibris, 2002) 401

An embryo at 5 weeks
An embryo at 5 weeks
A fetus at 14 weeks
A fetus at 14 weeks
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Pro-Life writer quotes embryology textbook

Pro-life writer William M Connolly, in his book One Life:How the US Supreme Court Deliberately Distorted the History, Science and Law of Abortion, cites a textbook’s explanation of when life begins.

“A baby begins life as a single cell, smaller than the period at the end of this sentence, and would be only barely visible to the naked eye. This cell is created by the union of two parent cells: the female egg cell or ovum, and the male sperm cell.”

Geraldine Lux Flanagan The First Nine Months of Life (Simon & Schuster, 1962)

William M Connolly says the following about Flanagan’s book:

“Simon & Schuster published her book in 1962. So her intent in writing, it seems clear, was merely to be accurately descriptive, and not to weigh in on the abortion controversy…

Ms. Flanigan was educated at Vienna Gymnasium and Radcliffe College. She was a reporter for Life Magazine.

Her husband Dennis Flanagan was the editor of Scientific American. With clear, crisp photography and prose, her 1962 book beautifully illustrates the life of the developing human being from conception, to the first “cleavage” or cell division of the zygote, and at every stage thereafter…

Her book was praised by George W Corner, MD, Former Director of Embryology of the Carnegie Institution of Washington and professor Emeritus of Embryology at Johns Hopkins University, who wrote the book’s forward.”

William M Connolly One Life:How the US Supreme Court Deliberately Distorted the History, Science and Law of Abortion (Xlibris, 2002) 109

Supreme Court Justices had this book at their disposal, but could not come to a conclusion as to whether a fetus was a person.

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National Academy of Sciences on conception

From testimony before a Senate Subcommittee:

In 2002, the National Academy of Sciences acknowledged that “in medical terms” the embryo is a “developing human from fertilization” onwards.

Richard M Doerflinger, testimony before US Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space, Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Washington DC, September 24, 2004

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Director of Neurobiology on life at conception

Dr. Sean O’Reilly, Director of the Neurobiology Research Training Program at George Washington University:

“[T]here is nothing in the entire phenomenon of the transmission of life that deserves more to be called an event, scientifically speaking, that does fertilization. It is the natural and scientific boundary at which a new and genetically unique human individual can be said to begin his existence. We conclude, therefore, that by objective and scientific criteria the individual human being is a person throughout his [or her] entire biological development from conception, which is synonymous with fertilization, to natural death… Any other conclusion would be arbitrary, unsupportable by scientific fact or rational argument, divorced from objective reality, and based on a particular ideology, philosophy or creed.”

Direct report on S. 158 by Dr. Sean O’Reilly, dated July 2, 1981

Quoted on page 28 – 29 of Randall J Hekman Justice for the Unborn (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Servant Books, 1984)

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New Scientist magazine: Life begins at fertilization

In an article in New Scientist, a task force of scientists came to the following conclusion:

“The task force finds that the new recombinant DNA technologies indisputably prove that the unborn child is a whole human being from the moment of fertilization, that all abortions terminate the life of a living human being, and that the unborn child is a separate human patient under the care of modern medicine.”

Under Evidence Cited:

“The task force cited scientific advances since 1973 as showing an embryo to be a “whole, separate, unique, living, human being” from the moment of conception. The advances in question include DNA fingerprinting, which shows a pattern of DNA that can identify an individual, and the polymerase chain reaction, which makes it possible to amplify and extract that information from a single cell. Techniques that show an embryo has a complete set of DNA “have proven that each human being is totally unique immediately at fertilization”, the panel’s report says. The task force also cited findings that control of growth and development are established by the embryo’s DNA after the third division of the fertilized egg: this stage is reached long before the embryo is implanted in the womb, which has previously been cited as signifying when personhood began.”

“When does life begin?” New Scientist 3/18/2006, Vol. 189, Issue 2543

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Birth is “trivial event” in human development

In the article “Fetal Psychology” in Psychology Today, a researcher explains how the birth process is only a minor event in the life history of an individual, as no new brain development occurs in the baby as he or she travels down the birth canal.

Birth may be a grand occasion, says the Johns Hopkins University psychologist [Janet DiPietro], but “it is a trivial event in development. Nothing neurologically interesting happens.”

Janet L. Hopson “Fetal Psychology” Psychology Today, Sep/Oct98, Vol. 31 Issue 5, p44, 6p, 4c.

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Embryologic physiology, not legal opinion, should show when life begins

Bernard J Ficarra, M.D, who wrote the book Abortion Analyzed, writes about how life begins at conception:

“A composite, unified, sacrosanct, unanimity of thought as to when life begins can be determined by studying embryologic physiology. Scientifically acknowledged pronouncements should be more acceptable in determining the onset of human life than legal opinion.”

Bernard J Ficarra, M.D. Abortion Analyzed (Laurel, MD: Health Educator Publications, Inc., 1989) 9

Read 40 quotes by scientists and science textbooks proving life begins at conception.

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