In an interview with ABC News' Jake Tapper yesterday from Iowa, GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said he believes life begins at implantation rather than at conception. A point many pro-life groups would dispute.
TAPPER: Abortion is a big issue here in Iowa among conservative Republican voters and Rick Santorum has said you are inconsistent. The big argument here is that you have supported in the past embryonic stem cell research and you made a comment about how these fertilized eggs, these embryos are not yet “pre-human” because they have not been implanted. This has upset conservatives in this state who worry you don’t see these fertilized eggs as human life. When do you think human life begins?
GINGRICH: Well, I think the question of being implanted is a very big question. My friends who have ideological positions that sound good don’t then follow through the logic of: ‘So how many additional potential lives are they talking about? What are they going to do as a practical matter to make this real?’
I think that if you take a position when a woman has fertilized egg and that’s been successfully implanted that now you’re dealing with life. because otherwise you’re going to open up an extraordinary range of very difficult questions
TAPPER: So implantation is the moment for you.
GINGRICH: Implantation and successful implantation. In addition I would say that I’ve never been for embryonic stem cell research per se. I have been for, there are a lot of different ways to get embryonic stem cells. I think if you can get embryonic stem cells for example from placental blood if you can get it in ways that do not involve the loss of a life that’s a perfectly legitimate avenue of approach.
What I reject is the idea that we’re going to take one life for the purpose of doing research for other purposes and I think that crosses a threshold of de-humanizing us that’s very very dangerous.
The folks over at LifeNews disgree:
LifeNews blogger Gerard Nadal, a molecular biologist, says human life begins at conception and other scientists have confirmed that to be true.
“Many claim that life begins at some point distant from fertilization, always beyond the point at which they propose some manipulation (abortion, embryonic stem cell culturing, etc…). There are always a list of biological functions that are given to define when human life begins: Cognitive capacity, etc,” Nadal explains. “The simple biological truth of the matter is that the Cell Theory states that all cells arise from pre-existing cells. There is no blackout period between sperm and egg uniting, and then the emergence of ‘life’ at some point distant.”
Joshua Mercer of Catholic Vote says the Gingrich error is a bid deal.
“Newt Gingrich’s answer on when human life begins is simply unacceptable. But his mistake isn’t due to timidness like when Pawlenty pulls his punch or from a profound lack of debate skills like Perry’s oops moment. No, Newt Gingrich’s error is much worse because he actually believes something which is wrong. And it has drastic consequences,” he said.
UPDATE: The Gingrich campaign has contacted me and has said the candidate is in fact pro-life, citing his statement at the Family Leader Thanksgiving Family Forum in later November as evidence:
"I'm intrigued with something that Robbie George at Princeton has come up with; an interpretation of the 14th Amendment in which it says that Congress shall define personhood. That's very clearly in the 14th Amendment. And part of what I would like to explore is whether or not you could get that congress to pass a law which simply says: Personhood begins at conception, and therefore, you could, in the same law, block the court and just say this will not be subject to review, which we have precedent for."