Does seven to fourteen days really make that big of a difference in the grand scheme of things? Well, it does if you are a Republican presidential contender trying to woo social conservatives to your side.
One of the largest pushes in the anti-abortion activists groups this year has been for state constitutional amendments defining life as beginning at the moment that an egg is fertilized. This push to redefine “personhood” has been rejected by the voters in every election contest it has come up in, yet still most anti-choice activists refuse to consider any bill that stops shy of saying that conception equals an entirely new person which should have every legal right and protection that a fully born human receives.
Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is taking a very slightly more moderate approach to the issue, and stating instead that life begins at the moment of implantation — or roughly 7-14 days after fertilization, once the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. There is a myriad of reasons why this makes much more sense, not the least of which is that fact that science defines pregnancy as not occurring until after implantation. Ask any woman who has undergone IVF if she is pregnant simply because she has a dish of fertilized embryos, and she’ll tell you bluntly that getting those embryos is often the easy part, and she’s still a long way from being pregnant.
Defining life as beginning at implantation would likely be a huge asset for anti-choice activists wanting to pass “personhood” bills that would in essence ban abortion, as it would get rid of a number of complications that come from the fertilization definition. It would no longer interfere with IVF procedures, it wouldn’t compromise some forms of birth control, and it would still eliminate abortion long before a woman would know she was pregnant. After all, your body doesn’t even begin secreting the hormones that show on a pregnancy test until after implantation, and a vast number of fertilized eggs simply don’t implant, meaning the woman was never technically pregnant. How can life have “begun” and be “protected” if a pregnancy hasn’t even started yet?
But their end goal isn’t just to ban abortion — it’s to also ban birth control, infertility treatments (unless you allow your additional embryos to be put up for “adoption” for strangers to use, or keep them frozen indefinitely), stem cell research and all of the rest. And that is why candidates like Michele Bachmann are saying that Gingrich’s stance is simply not “pro-life” enough. “The statement made today was highly troubling. Life begins at conception…This, along with his inconsistent record on life, is just one more indication that Newt is not dedicated to protecting the lives of the unborn and doesn’t share the most basic of conservative principles.”
Can Bachmann, Rick Santorum and the like really turn a one week difference into a policy that can oust Gingrich from winning the nomination? They are most definitely trying to do so.
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