Eve Herold, author of the book Stem Cell Wars, also seems confused regarding the correct scientific definition of an organism of our species. As I will show, this is odd because even pro-abortion choice sources that she uses acknowledge the scientific truth that the individual life of a human being begins at conception. They also acknowledge that the human embryo is a complete, albeit immature human being.
In the 7th chapter of her book, Herold attempt to make the oft-repeated assertion that an embryo is less than human because so many of them die naturally without implanting. That is worth its own post, but I wish to focus on her confusion about the term human being:
Some people believe they [human embryos] are equivalent to living human beings. (p119.)Those darn conservatives having the gall to look into an embryology text for their scientific information. Ironically, Herold quotes a pro-abortion choice book to help her point that embryos are somehow not human because many of them die naturally. On p123, she states :
The idea that human life begins with a single lightning strike at conception has had a powerful influence on both politics and religion. Extraordinary efforts are being made by conservative politicians at every level of government to formalize the status of the embryo as a full-fledged human being. (p120)
In their acclaimed book The Facts of Life: Science and the Abortion Controversy, biologist Harold Morowitz and physicist James Trefil note that...Obviously, she is impressed by their scientific credentials to quote them. Morowitz and Trefil's book deserves a month worth of posts, but I do believe they got some things right. In fact, on p16, they answer Herold's question about a human being:
In common usage, the term human being is often used as if it were synonymous with person or soul. "Abortion is murder" and "Abortion kills human beings" are used as equivalent statements. This usage is unfortunate, because the term has a precise meaning in biology. In biology, an entity is a human being if it is a member of the species Homo Sapiens. In this sense, the term carries no religious or legal connotations. It is simply a statement that the organism meets certain anatomical and genetic criteria...These pro-abortion choice authors, in the writings of their book specifically designed to support abortion rights, agree with me. Whether or not a certain entity is a human being is completely within the confines of science. It is a testable, empirically supported scientific fact that a human embryo is a human being. Other non-scientific terms such as "personhood" or "soul" cannot be verified by science.
In the precise language of the biological sciences, the correct way to refer to a fetus is as a developmental stage of the species Homo Sapiens. In this context, one can say that a human being exists from conception on, but it does not follow that that human being is a person or has a soul.
Herold must be blinded by her own ideology to not understand this basic fact. She wants us to base our human value on the faith-based terminology of "personhood", yet she denies simple scientific facts.
Lastly, I know that Herold knows better because I personally told her so in a panel discussion we had regarding ESCR a few years ago. I'll try to find that soundbite, but in the meanwhile here's another one from the discussion.