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University of Toronto Students for Life: Epigenetics and the sanctity of life

This post was written for University of Toronto Students for Life by Danny Ricci. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

This past Tuesday, Dr. Clem Persaud was on the U of T campus and gave a talk regarding epigenetics and its relationship to the life issues. I will give a summary of the talk and then give a little bit of commentary.

Basically, epigenetics is a new wave of science dealing with gene expression. It is now becoming more apparent that things in our environment, such as stress, the food we eat, exercise and maybe even plants in a classroom can change the way in which our genes are expressed. These changes can affect our health and even how we act and think. Dr. Persaud gave some intriguing studies demonstrating epigenetics and its effects on gene expression (these effects can even span two or three generations!).

What does all of this have to do with the sanctity of life? Well, Dr. Persaud mentioned the abortion-breast cancer link and health defects in IVF babies. In the first case, a full-term pregnancy, according to Dr. Persaud, protects a woman from breast cancer. Inversely, an interrupted pregnancy, such as abortion, can increase the risk of breast cancer. The reason for this is that during pregnancy the woman has a high level of estrogen. Once a pregnancy is interrupted, this high level of estrogen has no where to go and can influence gene expression, potentially leading to the generation of cancer cells.

In the second example of IVF babies, Dr. Persaud mentioned that defects occur during the prepartion of the embryo before implantation into the womb. The manipulations of the embryo during the IVF process can lead to changes in gene expression, leading to birth and health defects of the IVF baby.

My commentary:

Dr. Persaud was both engaging and intriguing while discussing the topic of epigenetics. I was impressed that he could take something as complex as epigenetics and turn it into a presentation that everyone understood and enjoyed. From what Dr. Persaud discussed, epigenetics could be another avenue in science that shows how treating life as a means to an end (such as IVF and abortion) can lead to negative consequences. UTSFL thanks Dr. Persaud for a great talk!


Read the comments at the University of Toronto Students for Life website.

University of Toronto Students for Life: To be or not to be (a sperm)… that is the question

This post was written for University of Toronto Students for Life by Danny Ricci. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

When arguing with the other side about when life begins, you might hear the argument that “We don’t really know for sure when a sperm stops being a sperm, so do you people also want to save the sperm?” Luckily for us, this argument can be answered in the following way. From Ethika Politika:

In normal fertilization, many sperm penetrate the corona radiata of the ovum (a layer of follicle cells surrounding the ovum). Then, typically only one sperm will penetrate the zona pellucida (a film of glycoproteins surrounding the oocyte) and reach the oocyte. The sperm’s membrane then fuses with the actual membrane of the oocyte. This fusion triggers changes in the oocyte (or rather, what was the oocyte) so that (a) the membrane of this new cell undergoes a rapid polarization, and (b) a calcium wave is produced throughout the new cell’s cytoplasm so that the zona pellucida hardens over approximately 30 minutes and repels penetration by sperm. These facts indicate that what is living at this point is not an ovum.

Did you get all that? All it is saying is that only one sperm fully penetrates an egg (oocyte) and after this, there are changes to this “oocyte” that indicate that it is not an oocyte anymore. So, we are not saving the sperm: We are saving a different organism because at fertilization a sperm and an egg cease to exist. A whole new organism is present.

The article then goes on to explain newer techniques of in-vitro fertilization and how these newer techniques are raising questions as to when sperm and ovum cease to exist. Just because we do not know where the “line” is when sperm/ovum combine to form a zygote does not mean we ditch what we know; namely that a new life is created when a sperm and egg fuse. In-vitro fertilization cannot override basic biological principles.


Read the comments at the University of Toronto Students for Life website.

uOttawa Students For Life: Baffling Reproductive Policy

This post was written for uOttawa Students For Life by uOttawa Students For Life. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

by Marissa Poisson

As was announced in July, free infertility treatment will be available in Quebec starting this month, which leads one to believe that infertility is now considered a disease there. Paradoxically, pregnancy also seems to be classified as a disease in the province and throughout the country given the availability of publicly funded abortion. Are the definitions of any other diseases wholly dependent on the circumstances of the individuals they afflict?

As a young woman, am I to believe that if I were to become pregnant now, when it would interfere with my university studies, the sensible choice would be abortion and that if I were to find myself unable to start a family in twenty years, it would be reasonable to expect free IVF?

The incoherence is jarring. Quebec’s politicians stand behind aborting tens of thousands of future Francophones every year yet are poised to spend lavishly to enable women to try their luck at conceiving artificially. Adoption seems to be the forgotten component in this equation; it needs to be encouraged as a viable option for women facing unplanned pregnancies and infertile couples. In the multi-million dollar business of life and death, the cures are worse than the diseases.


Read the comments at the uOttawa Students For Life website.