The pro-life argument can be put formally as follows:

Premise 1:

It is morally wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being.

Premise 2:

Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being.


Abortion is morally wrong.

The science of embryology establishes that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living and whole human beings. They are distinct. (Meaning they are not part of another human being.) They are living. (Dead things don’t grow!) And they are whole. (Sure, they have yet to grow and mature, but the kind of thing they are is not in question.) Human parents produce human offspring.

Leading embryology textbooks affirm this. For example, in The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud write: “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilisation, the process during which a male gamete or sperm … unites with a female gamete or oocyte … to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialised, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”

T.W. Sadler’s Langman’s Embryology states that the development of a human begins with fertilisation, in which the male sperm and the female oocyte “unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.”

Embryologists Ronan O’Rahilly and Fabiola Müller write, “Although life is a continuous process, fertilisation is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed.” 1

Telling the truth

Many contemporary defenders of abortion agree that we can know when life begins.

For example, in his book Practical Ethics, Princeton University bioethicist Peter Singer – a supporter of both abortion and infanticide – writes: “Whether a being is a member of given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense, there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being.”2

That elective abortion kills a living human being is actually conceded by many who perform and defend the practice.

Dr. Warren Hern, author of Abortion Practice – the medical textbook that teaches abortion procedures – told a Planned Parenthood conference: “We have reached a point in this particular technology [D&E abortion] where there is no possibility of denying an act of destruction. It is before one’s eyes. The sensations of dismemberment flow through the forceps like an electric current.”3

Liberal professor Ronald Dworkin, in his book Life’s Dominion, writes that abortion deliberately kills a developing embryo and is a choice for death.4

We’ve known these facts for years, despite attempts to hide them. As far back as 1970, an editorial in California Medicine conceded the scientific ground to pro-lifers. The authors – sympathetic to abortion – note that language can be used to get around inconvenient truths: “[T]he scientific fact, which everyone really knows, [is] that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra-uterine until death. The very considerable semantic gymnastics which are required to rationalise abortion as anything but taking a human life would be ludicrous if they were not often put forth under socially impeccable auspices.”5

Naomi Wolf, a prominent feminist and author, defends graphic depictions of abortion in a New Republic article. In it, she warns fellow abortion supporters to stop lying: “Clinging to a rhetoric about abortion in which there is no life and no death, we entangle our beliefs in a series of self-delusions, fibs and evasions. And we risk becoming precisely what our critics charge us with being: callous, selfish and casually destructive men and women who share a cheapened view of human life. … [We] need to contextualise the fight to defend abortion rights within a moral framework that admits that the death of a fetus is a real death.”6

Feminist Camille Paglia is even more blunt: “I have always frankly admitted that abortion is murder, the extermination of the powerless by the powerful. Liberals for the most part have shrunk from facing the ethical consequences of their embrace of abortion, which results in the annihilation of concrete individuals and not just clumps of insensate tissue.”7

Simply put, support for the pro-life position is strong.

The science of embryology affirms the humanity of the unborn.

Contemporary defenders of abortion concede the inhumanity of the procedure.

You can move forward in defending life with confidence!

  1. For sources cited above, see T.W. Sadler, Langman’s Embryology, 5th ed. (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 1993) p. 3; Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1998),pp. 2-18. O’Rahilly, Ronand and Muller, Pabiola, Human Embryology and Teratology, 2nd ed. (New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996) pp. 8, 29.

  2. Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993) pp. 85-86.

  3. footnote text

  4. Ronald Dworkin, Life’s Dominion: An Argument About Abortion, Euthanasia, and Individual Freedom (New York: Vintage, 1994) p. 3.

  5. Malcolm S.M. Watts, “A New Ethic for Medicine and Society,” California Medicine, September 1970.

  6. Naomi Wolf, “Our Bodies, Our Souls,” The New Republic, October 16, 1995, 26

  7. Camille Paglia, “Fresh Blood for the Vampire,” Salon, September 10, 2008.

© 2017 Scott Klusendorf. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Originally published at

Scott Klusendorf

Author of the *The Case for Life* Scott Klusendorf provides intellectual grounding for the pro-life convictions that most evangelicals hold.

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