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Turn to Jesus (Article)

When the Spark of Life Is Ignited
A Senior Fellow of the Westchester Institute presents a compelling case pinpointing the precise moment—to within a second—of when human life begins.

“When Does Human Life Begin?” by Maureen L. Condic.
“When Does Human Life Begin?” by Maureen L. Condic.

November 10, 2008. Thornwood, NY. On October 29, the Westchester Institute for Ethics & the Human Person released a new white paper, "When Does Human Life Begin? A Scientific Perspective" written by Institute Senior Fellow Maureen L. Condic, Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University Of Utah School Of Medicine.
This compelling paper presents the scientific basis for pinpointing the precise moment, down to within a second, that a new human life begins:

Based on universally accepted scientific criteria, a new cell, the human zygote, comes into existence at the moment of sperm-egg fusion, an event that occurs in less than a second. Upon formation, the zygote immediately initiates a complex sequence of events that establish the molecular conditions required for continued embryonic development. The behavior of the zygote is radically unlike that of either sperm or egg separately and is characteristic of a human organism. Thus, the scientific evidence supports the conclusion that a zygote is a human organism and that the life of a new human being commences at a scientifically well defined "moment of conception."

Father Richard John Neuhaus, Editor in Chief of the journal First Things, wrote the Foreword for the White Paper in which he notes

It is really far past time to clear the air of the smog that obscures and confuses debates about abortion, embryonic research, cloning, and related issues....Among the chief obfuscations and confusions is the claim that we do not know when human life begins. This frequently takes the form of claiming that the question is a matter of faith or religious belief. Nothing could be farther from the truth, as is lucidly and convincingly demonstrated in this White Paper.

"We are very pleased to present this paper at a time when the question of when human life begins is such a significant part of the national discussion," said Legionary priest Father Thomas Berg, Executive Director of the Westchester Institute. "In this White Paper, Dr. Condic argues that a coherent and non-arbitrary analysis of the scientific data forcibly points to the conclusion that life begins at a very precise moment, taking place within a second. In doing so, she challenges some of the conventional wisdom about that moment and makes a very important contribution to the public debate." 

The white paper is available for free downloading at the Westchester Institute´s newly revamped website,, which offers a wide array of resources on the cutting edge of the ongoing dialogue between faith, science, and culture.

The Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human person was founded in 1998 to renew, deepen, and promote the Western tradition of moral reflection by conducting interdisciplinary, natural law analysis of complex, contemporary moral issues yet unresolved among Judeo-Christian scholars.

The Institute also sends out a weekly e-column written by Father Thomas Berg, entitled “With Good Reason.” To subscribe, click here



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