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August 20, 2012 ( – An Australian judge has ruled that conception occurs at implantation – when an embryo embeds itself in the wall of the uterus around 9 days into a pregnancy – rather than fertilization – when it is created.

It is the first such ruling in Australia’s legal history, and, according to the lawyer representing the birth mother, perhaps anywhere in the world.

Judge Leanne Clare of the Brisbane Children’s Court, interpreting the Surrogacy Act 2010 (Qld) last Wednesday, said:


“Whatever approach to statutory interpretation is applied, whether it be to view ‘conceive’ as a technical term, or its everyday meaning, or the meaning that best advances the purposes of the Act, the result is the same. The point of conceiving a child is the commencement of the pregnancy, which involves an active process within a woman’s body.’‘

In the case before Judge Clare, an embryo had been created, but was not implanted into the mother’s uterus until after a surrogacy arrangement was created years later. This was important because the Queensland Surrogacy Act of 2010 requires that such arrangements be signed “before the child is conceived.”

Conception and fertilisation have long been considered synonymous terms, referring to the biological reality of the creation of new human life when a male gamete and female gamete unite. At this instant, a new human being with unique DNA and 46 chromosomes – 23 from the mother’s egg and 23 from the father’s sperm – exists.

This mostly undisputed fact is attested by pregnancy websites, embryology textbooks, and Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, among many other sources.


However, some pro-abortion organizations have begun to redefine conception as beginning at implantation, rather than fertilization, in an effort to skirt around evidence that some common forms of contraception may be abortifacient in nature by preventing an already fertilized zygote from implanting in the uterine wall. Such a redefinition would also duck the moral quandary of IVF, which typically involves the creation of more embryos than can possibly be implanted in the mother.

The court heard expert testimony from doctor who stated, “Fertilization is a step on the path way to conception.”

“This decision shows the linguistic contortions that people need to do to justify these immoral acts,” said Paul Hanrahan, Executive Director of Family Life International Australia.  “The problems with IVF are highlighted by situations like this, and trying to redefine biological facts such as conception to satisfy an ideology will only lead us further down the abyss.”

When pro-life veteran Monsignor Philip Reilly was in Sydney in January, he told young people: “Life begins at the beginning at ends at the end. They want you to believe it begins after it has begun, so we can have abortifacients, and it’s over before it ends, so we can euthanise you.”

There are an estimated 120,000 embryos currently frozen around Australia; 90% of IVF couples decide to destroy them. The cost of freezing embryos for a couple is between $300 and $500 a year.