The following statement was released by Dr. Joseph Stantan on Oct. 12, 1984, at a press conference in Washington, D.C. It was signed by 65 physicians, including two past presidents of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the former co-founder of NARAL.
The continuing debate on abortion has generated an atmosphere in which the biological facts may be ignored or can be forgotten.
As physicians, we wish to bring to the attention of all interested parties scientific facts about which there can be no reasonable doubt.
A human ovum fertilized by a human sperm produced a biologically-identifiable human embryo. That embryo contains all the essential biological material and genetic information required for complete cellular maturation, human tissue and organ development. The developing fetus is not a sub-human species with different genetic composition. As clearly demonstrated by in vitro fertilization, so also in vivo, from the time of fertilization, the embryo is alive, human, and unique, in the special environmental support required for that stage of human development.
Individual human growth and development are a continuum from a precise starting point. Biologically speaking, the embryo is to the infant as the child is to the adult. The infant is not less human than the child. The child is no less human than the adult. The biological changes of human maturation are predictable and are determined by the human genetic code.
As physicians, we support the concept that dignity is due human life from fertilization (conception) to the moment of natural death. This sentiment is neither new nor unique. It is evident in the pledge against abortion in the ancient Hippocratic Oath written over 2000 years ago; in laws in every one of the United States restricting abortion until the Supreme Court decision (Roe v. Wade) 1/22/73; in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child (1959) which points out the need for “special safeguards and care including appropriate legal protection before as well as after birth”; and the World Medical Association Declaration of Geneva (1949): “I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception.”
We urge all those engaged in the abortion debate to recognize that a central issue in the discourse must include acceptance of the fact that induced abortion causes death of a living human.