Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What we know Wednesday: The Heisenberg Abortion

With my Shut-up Sunday rant on abstinence-only education I thought I’d follow it up with a debunking of a bumper sticker slogan that right wingers love to use: “Life begins at conception”.

This is a platform that should be debunked in high school health class.

Conception is when the sperm fertilizes the egg forming a zygote, this zygote travels down the fallopian tube for four days. It does not attach itself to the uterus and is completely independent of the mother. In a natural conception (people having sex) the zygote cannot be observed, zygotes can only be seen under a microscope outside of the body.

In rare cases the egg will spontaneously begin dividing leading to asexual zygote formation. In the few cases where these have gone all the way to birth the offspring was a female genetically identical to the mother, no baby Jesus that way.

Pregnancy doesn’t begin until the zygote attaches itself to the uterus and becomes an embryo. At that time the woman’s body begins to undergo changes that can be observed.

In a healthy female in her 20s the zygote attaches itself to uterus roughly 65% of the time. The other 35% of the time it is passed out of her body in the menstrual cycle. As the woman gets older the uterus becomes less receptive to the zygote and the chances of it attaching become smaller.

In other words if you believe that life begins at conception and you are trying to get pregnant and both the man and woman have no fertility problems, if you don’t succeed in a month you should gather up your rags and have a funeral. Chances are a zygote lies dead on one of them.

The fact that the zygote needs to attach itself to the uterus for pregnancy is the principle behind the “morning after drug”. It conditions the uterus to be in an unreceptive state, blocking the zygote from attaching.

Although the “Life begins at Conception” is a catchy bumper sticker phrase, it means that life would start at an unobservable, and therefore indeterminate, time. As all women over childbearing age may or may not have a zygote floating around. Therefore, all women would be responsible for caring for a life that may or may not exist.

As the same people who scream that phrase want a stricter legal responsibility placed on women to care for the embryo than the child after it is born, transferring that to a zygote means all women would have to take extreme measures to protect a zygote that may or may not exist.

In other words all women of childbearing age would need to stay home and care for something that may or may not exist.


Jen said...

You're wading into the abortion debate I assume. It hardly matters of course. If you don't want to have a baby then don't have sex. It's pretty simple. True having sex does not guarantee a pregnancy and even a pregnancy does not guarantee a live birth but if you are young the odds are better. If you don't want to take care of a child then you (or whomever is having sex) should not be having sex. I'm not saying abstinence teaching works, it is quite clear that it doesn't but when a woman becomes pregnant after sex no one should be surprised, even if she (yes, she since most men don't worry their pretty little heads over it) was using birth control.

Project Savior said...

In this post I was merely making fun of a stupid bumper sticker slogan that shows that the people who say it have no clue about reproductive science when they say life begins before pregnancy.
After pregnancy it is a whole other matter, then it becomes a legal issue which I'm sure I'll post on some time in the future.

Jen said...

Sorry, I took it way tooo seriously. Sometimes I forget where I am.

Project Savior said...

Don't worry as soon as I get around to it, I hope make a post that is sure to offend just about everyone. Hopefully I can do it on my next Temper Tantrum Tuesday. Unless the evil cat minions distract me or I get caught up in the next four chapters of my latest novel, or someone helps fix a short story that didn't come out the way I intended, ect, ect.