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Monday, December 5, 2011

Gingrich Issues Contrasting Statements on Life at Conception

After alarming pro-life activists with a public statement that human life begins when the embryo is implanted in the mother’s womb, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich issued a statement on December 3 affirming that life begins at conception. 

In an interview with ABC television correspondent Jake Tapper, Gingrich said that “when a woman has a fertilized egg and that’s been successfully implanted that now you’re dealing with life.” When Tapper followed up, asking the former Speaker of the House whether “implantation is the moment for you,” Gingrich clearly answered in the affirmative: “Implantation and successful implantation.” 

The Republican candidate’s televised remarks shocked and alarmed pro-life advocates. Gingrich has a strong record of opposition to abortion, but his televised statement lent support to the argument commonly raised by advocates of early abortion: that a fertilized human embryo cannot be considered a human life in its earliest days, until it is implanted in the mother’s womb. That argument flies in the face of scientific evidence, since at the time of fertilization a new and distinct human life is formed. 

Distributors of the “morning-after pill” have used the argument that Gingrich advanced in his television interview—that life only begins with implantation—to justify their claim that the pill is not abortifacient. And proponents of embryonic stem-cell research have used the same logic to justify the destruction of fertilized embryos. Although he told ABC’s Tapper that he was firmly opposed to embryonic stem-cell research, Gingrich seemed to be leaving the door open to such arguments during his television appearance, when he said that if human life is not defined as starting at implantation,”otherwise you’re going to open up an extraordinary range of very difficult questions.” 

However, after pro-lifers reacted with shock to the former Speaker’s remarks, the Gingrich campaign issued a public statement that flatly contradicted his answer to Tapper. “As I have stated many times throughout the course of my public life, I believe that human life begins at conception,” the candidate affirmed. He went on to say: “My convictions on human life are longstanding, deeply felt, and irrevocable matters of conscience. I will do all in my power—always--to foster reverence for life.”

In his published statement Gingrich underlined his opposition to embryonic stem-cell research: “As I have also made clear in several of my public pronouncements throughout this campaign, I oppose federal funding of any research that destroys a human embryo because we are also dealing here with human life.” 

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