Lecture 23 - Biology and History of Abortion

author: Robert Wyman, Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: May 14, 2010,   recorded: April 2009,   views: 3489
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)

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The idea that "life begins at conception" is not a scientific one. Since the disproof of 'spontaneous generation' (1668-1859), we have known that life only derives from life. Life arose billions of years ago and has continued since as a cycle. Assigning a beginning to a cycle (like the year) is arbitrary. The Bible describes the cycle as "Dust to Dust." Exodus describes a forced abortion as a property crime, but taking the life of the mother as a capital crime. The New Testament does not refer to abortion.

Reading assignment:

Mohr, James C. Abortion in America: The Origins and Evolution of National Policy, chapters 2 and 5

Luker, Kristin. Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood, pp. 92-108

Wolch, Mary Jean. "Open Letter from a Catholic Birth Mother." Conscience, 17, no. 3 (1996), pp. 25-28

U.S. Supreme Court: Roe v. Wade, 1973, pp. 16-26

Noonan, John T. The Morality of Abortion. An Almost Absolute Value in History, pp. 1-3 and 6-11

Gilbert, Scott. Developmental Biology, pp. 1-6

Perry, Dana Heinz. "A Wrongful Birth." The New York Times Magazine, 2 April 2006

Tropper, Jonathan. "Goodbye Too Soon." The New York Times Magazine, 6 March 2005

Shorto, Russell. "The War on Contraception." The New York Times Magazine, 7 May 2006

Hitt, Jack. "El Salvador: Pro-Life Nation." The New York Times Magazine, 9 April 2006

Barrionuevo, Alexei. "Amid Abuse in Brazil, Abortion Debate Flares." The New York Times, 27 March 2009

Henshaw, Stanley. "Review of 'The Human Drama of Abortion.'" Studies in Family Planning, Vol. 38, no. 2 (2007), pp. 141-142

Faundes, Anibal and Jose Barzelatto. The Human Drama of Abortion: A Global Search for Consensus, pp. 3-11, 33-41, 45-59 and 72-91

Bible: The Creation: Genesis 1 Dust to Dust: Genesis 3:19 Onan: Genesis 38:8; Deuteronomy 25:5 Abortion: Exodus 21:22 Jump for Joy: Luke 1:24 :26 :36; Jeremiah 1:4, :5

Resources: Notes - Lecture 23 [PDF]

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