Comments: CRTL Acknowledges Irving's Scientific, Moral and Legal Arguments on "Personhood"

Dianne N. Irving
July 17, 2008
Reproduced with Permission

It would seem that CRTL is quite graciously agreeing with the scientific and moral points that I have provided, and changing the language of their "Personhood Amendment 48" to reflect both sexually and asexually reproduced human beings (see their Press Release below). It is quite refreshing to see such intellectual and moral honesty on these difficult issues. Millions of young innocent living human beings will thereby be saved from manipulation and destruction, including naturally occurring human identical twins reproduced asexually within the woman's body. Their only remaining disagreement, i.e., over my use of the term "exclusionary" when they refer to their term "including", is, I think, still debatable -- legal advice given to me is that it would be better and far safer legally to use the more inclusive phrase, "including but not limited to". Even better to use the far safer inclusive phrase "whether sexually or asexually reproduced". If the scientific facts about human asexual reproduction are objectively true, which they are, then one does wonder why the strange reticence on the part of many to actually use those scientific terms per se within a law or regulation.

Colorado Right to Life
Press Release
June 24, 2008

* Colorado RTL Reply to Dr. Irving

"Faithful are the Wounds of a Friend"

Dr. Dianne N. Irving, a bioethicist and professor at Georgetown University, has criticized [] the personhood amendment, which CRTL supports, which appears on Colorado's November 2008 ballot. Dr. Irving's moral and scientific arguments are not only valid, they are foundational to the long-term success of the personhood movement. Colorado RTL will join Dr. Irving in educating pro-lifers, the public and politicians about the sexual and asexual origins of human life that must be recognized in law for it to protect all persons. Dr. Irving's criticism illustrates Solomon's words, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend" (Proverbs 27:6).

Dr. Irving rightly explains that defining human life as beginning at "the moment of fertilization" includes only those people who came into existence at the union of a sperm and oocyte (ovum). However, scientists and fertility clinicians bring many human beings into existence through asexual reproduction quite apart from the merging of a sperm and ovum. Scientists "split" the youngest embryonic children, breaking off cells, to cause twinning that brings a second child into existence, and fertility clinics will then destroy any unneeded embryos. Dr. Irving has cataloged many asexual methods of human reproduction including splitting embryos and cloning, methods which produce living human beings which the personhood movement must protect by love and by law.

Dr. Irving criticizes Colorado's Amendment 48 because it addresses sexual but not asexual reproduction. CRTL concurs and recommends that the personhood movement nationwide accept Dr. Irving's moral and scientific conclusions and adopt fully protective legal wording to the effect of: "defining 'person' as any human life from the moment of sexual or asexual reproduction, including from fertilization."

CRTL disagrees with Dr. Irving only in her characterization that our initiative wording provides an "exclusionary clause... denying human personhood to all categories of asexually reproduced human beings." Rather, Colorado's personhood Amendment 48 uses the word "include," that the term "person... shall include any human being from the moment of fertilization." This definition would not exclude cloned or in vitro twinned children. Other than this legal disagreement, CRTL thanks Dr. Irving for her courage and insight, and asks the personhood movement to adopt her biological, moral, and legal argument.

Joe Riccobono
President, CRTL