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Mike Huckabee's debate claim about personhood

Mike Huckabee's debate claim about personhood

Friday, August 7, 2015

The top 10 Republican presidential hopefuls went head to a head in a debate last night in their first attempt at capturing the hearts, minds, and nominations of American voters.

Donald Trump clearly stole the show with his expected gaffes, including his misogynistic comments and refusal to pledge that he wouldn’t launch a third party bid if he doesn’t win the primary.

But there were many other jaw-dropping moments, including one from former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. When debate moderator Chris Wallace asked how he would cajole Democrats and Independents into voting for him, as a strong advocate for banning same-sex marriage and abortion, he replied:

“A lot of people are talking about defunding Planned Parenthood, as if that’s a huge game-changer. I think it’s time to do something even more bold. I think the next president ought to invoke the Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother’s womb is a person at the moment of conception.”

He went on to claim that a “DNA schedule” has proven that life begins at conception. And a quick peek at his website confirms this view: “No amount of liberal legalistic logic can refute what science has already settled and God has ordained: Life begins at conception.”

As someone who’s studied genetics extensively in and out of college, this was the first time I’d ever heard the phrase “DNA schedule.” And I’m not the only one. “I have no idea what he’s talking about,” Duke University geneticist Misha Angrist told Fusion. “but ‘DNA schedule’ has real potential as a name for a band, an app, or maybe an erectile dysfunction drug.”

But pushing that weird made up scientific phrase aside for a moment, let’s examine his comment about a person becoming a person at conception.

I reached out to doctor Robert A. Waterland, an associate professor of pediatrics and molecular & human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine for comment.

“I don’t see how DNA can prove when life begins, since DNA is the continuous thread, the one thing that is passed from cell to cell and generation to generation,” Waterland told Tech Insider.

He went on to say that of the many arguments against the idea that life begins at conception, the most compelling argument was put forth by Scott Gilbert, a developmental biologist at Swarthmore College who wrote the quintessential textbook for undergraduate biology majors, “Developmental Biology.”

Waterland said that the concept of twins, who develop from just one fertilised egg that splits into two embryos, has seriously complicated this argument that life begins at conception for decades.

“If we consider that each human being has a soul, then what happens to the soul when the early embryo cleaves into two individuals? Does each identical twin have only half a soul?” Waterland told Tech Insider.

Clearly Huckabee, who holds a degree in religion, has no business talking about science.


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