Quick Response #1: The Embryo Isn’t Human

Emily Albrecht responds to the pro-choice claim that the embryo isn’t a biological human. What does the science say?

Watch all the videos in ERI’s Quick Response series here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLsN8Ay8poS-It-dWSmblq1ZufOH-MVj1L

Related Links:

Pro-Life Apologetics: The Equal Rights Argument:

Script Text

“The embryo isn’t human.” “No one knows when life begins.” “It isn’t even alive.” These are pretty common sayings I hear when I’m talking to pro-choice people, and they’re legitimately frustrating. But most of the time, pro-life people seriously misunderstand what pro-choice people actually mean when they question the humanness or alive-ness of the unborn.

(intro sequence)

If someone says “the embryo isn’t human,” the single most important VERY FIRST THING I need to do is ask a clarifying question. You see, the word “human” can be REALLY ambiguous in conversations about abortion. I’ve heard pro-choice people use that word to mean biological humanness or something way more philosophical like a person with rights. For most pro-choice people, biological and philosophical “humanness” are NOT the same thing, so it’s important for me to know which one they mean. I might say something like:

“Okay, I’ve heard a lot of pro-choice people say that the embryo isn’t human but mean very different things by that, and I want to make sure I understand you. Do you mean biological humanness, like the embryo isn’t a member of the species Homo sapiens? Or do you mean something more philosophical, like the embryo IS a member of the species but not a person that should have rights?”

Our team has had hundreds of conversations with pro-choice people, and do you want to guess what percentage of people answer the former? Less than 5%. When pro-choice people say that the embryo isn’t human, they almost always DO believe that the embryo is biologically human, but they don’t believe that the embryo is philosophically human. In this video, we’re going to talk about how to respond to that 5% who argue that the embryo isn’t biologically human. To learn how to respond to the 95% who are making a philosophical argument, check out our video on the Equal Rights Argument. Link in the description.

Okay, so I’ve asked the clarification question, and the person I’m talking to says they don’t believe that the fetus is BIOLOGICALLY human. 

Science is incredibly clear that the unborn are biologically a distinct member of the species Homo sapiens. There are three things needed to know whether something is biologically alive: growth through cellular reproduction, metabolising food into energy, and reacting to stimuli. The embryo does all three of those things from fertilization. The embryo also has unique DNA, and it is a whole organism on a self-directed path to maturity, not part of an organism like a skin cell or a sperm cell. As Steve Wagner from Justice For All summarizes in his “10-second pro-life apologist” tool, (quote) “we know that the embryo is growing, and it seems like if something’s growing, then it must be alive. And it seems like if something has two human parents, then it must be biologically human.” (End quote.) Like, we all know that cows don’t have baby ducks—that’s just not how that works!

Remember, merely accepting the biology of the unborn DOES NOT force someone to become pro-life. The science behind the embryo is very clear, but science can only tell us WHAT is killed in an abortion, not whether that killing action should have any moral weight. It’s far more interesting for us to accept the biology of the unborn and instead talk about whether the fetus should have an equal right to life or whether the woman’s right to her bodily autonomy should override any rights the fetus has. We have other videos in this series addressing both of those claims, so take a look to understand what’s REALLY driving the abortion debate.

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