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LETTER: Hale’s opinion strong, but facts overlooked

STILLWATER, Minn. — Minot attorney Robert Hale expresses some strong opinions in his piece, ( “Amendment ensures N.D. respects, protects life” Page A4, July 24) but unfortunately, he plays loose with what he claims as fact. While he may believe that a “unique and individual human being” is formed at the moment of conception, it is far from true that this is “acknowledged as an indisputable scientific fact.” It is far from being established as fact. He provides no documentation to back his claim. Further, he mistakenly states that conception includes fertilization of the egg and the first division of cells. In addition, he refers to the early product of conception as a fetus. The fertilized egg forms what is properly termed a zygote, which subsequently becomes a morula, then a blastocyst and finally on day six or seven attaches to the uterine wall and becomes an embryo. The transformation to a fetus does not occur until sometime between 8 and 12 weeks, depending on which study you reference.

Two other writers have already noted both legal and ethical problems that will arise under the expanded definition of personhood in both the prenatal period and at the end stage of life.

In 2012, Dr. Susan Storck of the University of Washington published a paper (sponsored by the National Institutes of Health) that showed that 50 percent of fertilized eggs (zygotes) are lost to spontaneous abortion (the medical term for a lost pregnancy). Most of these occur before the woman ever realizes she is pregnant. Many studies also show that about 20 percent of pregnancies are lost after the woman is aware of the pregnancy.

Writer Mutler justifiably questions what the legal community and the public will do in those cases of lost pregnancies. Is the logical end of this to test every woman of child bearing age every month to find out if she had been pregnant? Would Attorney Hale then maintain that every woman who had lost a pregnancy be investigated to determine if she had done something that might have “killed” her fully vested human child? Smoking, a night out for drinks after work, a vigorous workout resulting in dehydration: Any of these could cause the inadvertent loss of the pregnancy. Should we prosecute those women? As Mutler noted, this will create a lot of work for the attorneys and courts.

North Dakotans should consider carefully the ramifications of the proposed measure that redefines personhood in the upcoming election.