National Campus Life Network > Blog > life begins at conception

University of Toronto Students for Life: The beginning of life isn’t controversial

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

It’s not controversial when life begins. Except for when we start talking about abortion, then people want to pretend it’s above their pay grade.

I just came across this little snippet from the Globe about an institute at U of T that I think serves to highlight that:

If you were going to try and solve the riddle of childhood obesity, who would you call? Doctors, geneticists, teachers or social workers? Why not all of them? That’s the premise behind a new research institute at the University of Toronto that will be delving into the potential – and the pitfalls – of early childhood health and well-being.

The Fraser Mustard Institute for Human Development, named for the late advocate of early childhood development, pulls together researchers from a wide range of fields under a virtual umbrella to tackle a wide range of issues. They’ll team up on research and teaching that focuses on the first 2,000 days of a child’s life – from conception to age five – in the hopes of pinpointing ways to set children on positive life trajectories.

If you’re doing real science and you have to look to the beginning of life, would you turn to birth? To the ability to feel pain? To consciousness or sentience? To a sperm or egg cell? Obviously, just like the Fraser Mustard Institute, you’d look to the real beginning of life: conception.

The beginning of life is a fact. That fact is only becomes controversial insofar as it’s inconvenient — when you are trying to justify killing through abortion.

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.