MSNBC Host Says That Life Begins Whenever You Feel Like It Does

I lived in Great Britain for three years for my first postdoctoral research fellowship at Sussex University. To be completely honest, I never got into the whole royal family thing, but the birth of George Alexander to Prince William and Kate Middleton is certainly an event to celebrate. George has little chance of ever ascending to the throne, but he is certainly a bundle of joy to his parents and to the British people.

Therefore, I find it rebarbative that media kill joys have used the joyous birth of William and Kate’s baby to be an opportunity to talk about abortion. In addition to this, one particular pro-choice news correspondent, Melissa Harris-Perry decided to wax philosophically about the nature of the unborn.

After noting the worldwide excitement that has surrounded Kate Middleton’s pregnancy and birth, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry compared the buzz surrounding the British royal birth to Texas abortion politics, and then offered her own answer to the question “when does life begin:”

“When does life begin? I submit the answer depends an awful lot on the feeling of the parents. A powerful feeling – but not science,”

News correspondents say stupid things, but this has to rank as one of the most brain-dead things I have ever heard. Let’s not forget who said it, since Melissa Harris-Perry, is the news anchor who wore tampon earrings and received Planned Parenthood’s Maggie Award.

Once the egg in the fallopian tube of the mother fuses with a sperm cell from the father, the egg undergoes a complex sequences of biochemical and cellular events that culminate in the fusion of the genetic material of the mother with that of the father. This marks the end of the process known as fertilization and the beginning of the embryonic stages of development. The embryo has begun the journey of human development, growth, and maturation that will not stop until the individual dies. The embryo is genetically distinct from the mother and the father, and is a human being, albeit, a very young human being. The embryo is not a plant, an alligator, or some facsimile or something else, it is human, but a young human. That is not a feeling, but a scientific fact.

Can we kill the embryo just because it is very young? Reflection leads me to say no, no, a thousand times no. Do we value two-year old children more than one-year old children? Do we value six-year old children more than four-year old children? Age is irrelevant to the moral worth of an individual.

But, you say, the embryo is underdeveloped relative to a new-born baby. Does the extent of development determine moral worth? Again, a one-month old baby is more developed than a two-week old baby. Does that make the one-year old baby more valuable? No. Are teenagers who are more physically developed more morally valuable than eight-year old children? No. Therefore, the extent of development is not a good measure of a human being’s moral worth.

Ms. Harris-Perry seems to thing that feelings or perhaps she means how deeply a mother wants her baby is the factor that determines if he or she should continue to live. Again I say no. This would justify genocide. The dictators of North Korea can simply say that killing their own people is due to the fact that they did not want them anymore. They had those kind of feelings you know. How about Hitler and the Third Reich and their slaughter of six million Jews and many millions of  others? Hitler and his officers killed them because they did not feel that Jews and others were worthy of life. In fact, Harris-Perry’s ethic can justify any heinous, insidious acts simply on the basis of feelings.

This is, as I have said, brain-dead and she should be called out for it. The unborn human beings are still human beings regardless of how we feel about them. That is a fact of genetics and embryology regardless of your feelings about it. If MSNBC has news correspondents that say things that are this stupid, then maybe they deserve to have such low ratings.

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Professor of Biochemistry at Spring Arbor University (SAU) in Spring Arbor, MI. Have been at SAU since 1999. Author of The Stem Cell Epistles. Before that I was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA (1997-1999), and Sussex University, Falmer, UK (1994-1997). I studied Cell and Developmental Biology at UC Irvine (PhD 1994), and Microbiology at UC Davis (MA 1986, BS 1984).