what is a zygote?
We all hear frequently that Catholic teaching forbids abortion – that human life must be respected from conception to natural death. Yet most of us have friends, family or co-workers who don’t see things this way. They seem to be basically good people and not some sort of moral monsters. How can this be?
Some people are confused or have been misinformed about some basic facts. Men may believe that because women are the ones most intimately affected by pregnancy and abortion, they aren’t entitled to make judgments about whether it is right or wrong or to limit women’s access to it. After all, it is the woman’s body. Some think that permissive abortion laws are something women want and that such laws are necessary to help women attain equality. Some are troubled by the very real sacrifices women may be required to make to bring an unwanted pregnancy to term, especially in a society that does very little to help poor women and their children. Some may agree with the Church that it is morally wrong, but question whether it should be made illegal, either because they think we shouldn’t legislate morality or because they think outlawing it would result in bad consequences.
In this series of articles, I will clarify some facts and reply to some common pro-choice arguments. I begin by trying to clear away some common confusions about pregnancy and fetal development and explain why it is correct to say that what is growing in the woman’s womb is a new individual human being. Science here strongly supports the pro-life position. First of all, the zygote, embryo, or fetus is NOT a part of the woman’s body. Its genetic code is completely different from hers, and it is connected with her only by the umbilical cord through which it absorbs nutrients and fluid. The mother and baby do not actually share blood; sometimes the mother couldn’t give the baby a transfusion because their blood types are different.
At conception something new comes...
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