How do we answer those who claim that we cannot say when any one human life begins because all human life is a continuum?  F.R.  Winnipeg.

The late Dr. Daniel C. Overduin, the well-known Australian Lutheran theologian, once said that the best way to be able to answer the question regarding the beginning of our life is simply by going backward in time.  He quotes from Scientists for Life in the Position of Modern Science on the Beginning of Human Life.

“Before you were an adult, you were an adolescent, and before that a child, and before that an infant.  Before you were an embryo, around the time of your implantation, you were a blastocyst, and before that a morula, and before that a zygote or fertilized ovum.  However, you were never a sperm or unfertilized ovum.  Therefore, while life is continuous, your life began when the nucleus of your father’s sperm fused with the nucleus of your mother’s ovum, or at fertilization.

Biologically there is no argument about when a new human life begins; it begins – as all scientific data prove – at conception (fertilization).  No reputable scientist denies this.

I know that abortion was forbidden by the early Christian Church, but I need a specific quotation.  P.D. Markham

Terullian, who was an early doctor of the Church, wrote, in the year 195 A.D.

“For us, murder is once for all forbidden; so even the child in the womb, while yet the mother’s blood is still being drawn on to form the human being, it is not lawful for us to destroy.  To forbid birth is only quicker murder.  It makes no difference whether one take away the life once born or destroy it as it comes to birth.  He is a man, who is to be a man; the fruit is always present in the seed.”  This quotation may be found in “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” by Francis A. Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop.

Is there any hope that we could stop paying for abortion through OHIP and our taxes?  M.D. North York.

In the pro-life movement there is always hope.  Even people who call themselves “pro-choice” are not anxious to pay for other people’s abortions.  However, I know of two companion cases in the United States (Harris v. McRae and Williams v. Zbaraz) in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision, in 1980, that neither the state nor federal government need fund abortions through programs that subsidize medical procedures.

Mr. Justice Potter Stewart, in writing for the majority stated: “Abortion is inherently different from other medical procedures, because no other procedure involves the purposeful elimination of a potential life.”  Chief Justice Burger, and Justices White, Rehnquist and Powell joined Stewart in his opinion.  The four justices, who each wrote dissents, were, Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun, and Stevens.

The court in Harris v. McRae said: the Medicaid Act does not oblige states to pay for abortions; the right to choose abortion does not create a right to have abortion paid for with public funds; the Hyde Amendment does not violate the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment.  The judgment holds that any ‘right’ to abortion does not carry with it a collateral right to government financing of the exercise of that right.

When pro-abortion women tell me an unborn baby is not a legal person, I’d like to be able to tell them that it’s not too long since the Supreme court said women were not persons.  What are the facts?  J.M.  Vancouver.

The case you mention, which is often called the Person’s Case, was concerned with whether women could be nominated to the Canadian Senate.  (To be a senator, one had to be a ‘person’.)  The legal issue was whether the word ‘person’ in the British North America Act included women.  The women involved in this case, Henrietta Edwards and Emily Murphy, took their claim to a right to be nominated for the Senate to the Supreme Court of Canada.  In 1928, in Edwards A.G. of Canada, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that women were not included within the meaning of persons.

Luckily for Canadian women, in 1928 the Supreme Court of Canada was not the ultimate court of appeal; there was still the Privy Council in London.  The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council reviewed the case, and reversed the decision, declaring that the word “person” does include women.  The judgment was delivered by Lord Sankey, who said:

“The word ‘person’ may include members of both sexes, and to those who ask why the word should include females, the obvious answer is why not?  In these circumstances the burden is upon those who deny that the word includes women to make out their case.”