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December 9, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – In a serious, formal debate setting, there’s generally a bare minimum threshold of factual proficiency. Even on abortion, the pro-aborts willing to actually face pro-life apologists on a stage may make various horrifying philosophical arguments, but they generally won’t be the ones to simply pretend a preborn child is a lifeless clump of cells.

There are no such standards for pro-abortion apologetics anywhere else, not even in America’s most prestigious journalistic publications. Last week, The Washington Post published one of the worst examples we’ve ever seen with an op-ed by Alexandra Petri that purports to use sarcasm to illustrate the imagined absurdity of pro-life laws.

Specifically, she targets legislation that requires humans in the very earliest stages of development be recognized as the humans they are rather than medical waste, by issuing death certificates and requiring humane burials (as well as some language in a recent Ohio bill about reimplanting ectopic embryos, which the pro-life Equal Rights Institute critiques as vague and poorly written). 

But the details of any particular policy beside the point here. Petri’s real target is the very concept of treating embryonic human beings like human beings. She conveys this by asking, “Why such concern for these fertilizing spermatozoa, more than others?”

No, we must be fair, we must do right by the fallen. State legislators, if you have such concern for the select few, remember the unfortunate millions! We must, of course, give honor above all to those who went to the halls of glory without glimpsing even a hint of an ovum. This is the least we owe those who lived in hope — and died — in states of single blessedness. Who knows what strange soil may be their resting place, what corner of a foreign field shall be forever theirs, what richer earth lies in that rich earth concealed?

No, whenever we hear word that once again, another battalion of these brave lads have gone to rest without fertilizing anything, a single horse, draped in black, with boots turned backward in the stirrups, must dolefully march down the main street of the relevant town, as people crowd to the windows to weep. Fair is fair! A trumpeter must play taps, and at the head of the parade must ride the mourners. Though, in a way, we all mourn.

That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.

Individual sperm cells and egg cells are not living human beings. They are structurally, genetically, and functionally part of the parent’s body. They are not organisms. Their share the DNA of the man or woman they come from. Their sole purpose is to combine to create life.

Once they combine, all of those aspects change. The resulting embryo’s structure and development identify it (or, to be more accurate, him or her) as a living organism. His or her new DNA is distinct from both parents. The functions of his or her new body do not operate as an organ for Mom but serve to grow, mature, and survive as a new individual of the species.

All of this is incredibly basic biology, which Petri could look up if she cared. To equate individual cells with embryonic humans is on par with trying to argue that the Earth is flat just because you can’t see any curvature to the land when you go outside. Quite simply, there’s no excuse for anyone who’s contemplated the subject for more than a few minutes not to understand this, least of all someone opining in a professional capacity.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that Ms. Petri does know better and simply doesn’t care (her one reply to critics so far shows a distinct lack of interest in correcting her biologically illiterate premise). In that case, she would hardly be the first pro-abortion pundit to knowingly peddle nonsense strictly because her fellow travelers lap up literally anything that helps them feel superior and dismissive to pro-lifers. 

But whatever the motivations, it’s self-discrediting nonsense that should disqualify those who deploy it from serious consideration. It’s no mystery why the abortion lobby and its allies feel no compunction about using and promoting such illiteracy, but perhaps we should reflect more on why mainstream outlets like WaPo have no fear about paying any price to their business or reputation for giving it a platform.

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Calvin Freiburger is a Wisconsin-based conservative writer and 2011 graduate of Hillsdale College. His commentary and analysis have been featured on NewsReal Blog, Live Action, and various other conservative websites. Before joining LifeSiteNews, he spent two years in Washington, DC, working to build support for the Life at Conception Act with the National Pro-Life Alliance, then worked a year and a half as assistant editor of You can follow him on Twitter @CalFreiburger, and check out his personal website,


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