In a recent survey, the majority of U.S. doctors questioned say that pregnancy begins at conception, a discovery which could possibly have an effect on abortion laws in the U.S.
The American College for Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) defines implantation as the beginning of pregnancy. Implantation occurs roughly one week after fertilization, when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterus wall.
The ACOG supports this claim by arguing that many times a fertilized egg does not attach to the uterus wall, and therefore all fertilized eggs cannot be counted as fetuses.
The survey shows that the majority of doctors questioned disagree with the ACOG's definition of pregnancy.
Out of 1,000 obstetricians and gynecologists questioned, 57 out of every 100 said pregnancy begins at conception, while 28 out of every 100 said it begins at implantation.
The survey’s results agree with the Christian perspective that life begins at fertilization, according to the Bible:
"Before I was born the Lord called me," as stated in Isaiah 49:1.
As Senior author of the survey Farr Curlin told Reuters, the Achilles' Heel of the survey was the use of the word "conception." Although it is generally understood that conception means fertilization, some doctors interchange the word conception with implantation.
The survey could be used to support the ongoing fight to make abortion in the U.S. illegal.
Pro-life supporters recently suffered a blow when the "Personhood Amendment" was shot down in Mississippi. The "Personhood Amendment" argues that human life begins at fertilization.
Such an amendment could potentially go on to overturn Roe. V. Wade, effectively outlawing abortion in the U.S.
"If doctors are honest about when they know life begins, it would eventually have to come to light that the Personhood Amendment makes sense," Ann Scheidler, Vice President of the Pro-Life Action League, told The Christian Post Friday.
Critics contend that declaring pregnancy at conception poses problems for gynecological technology.
A law declaring pregnancy at conception could subsequently outlaw some forms of birth control which attack a fertilized egg, such as the morning after pill.
A change in law would also conflict with in-vitro fertilization. Critics argue that pregnancy at conception means physicians would be unwilling to perform in-vitro fertilization for fear of malpractice charges, should the embryo not survive.
"I think that technology is fraught with all sorts of ethical complications," Scheidler told CP.
Scheidler contends that the survey does not question doctors who routinely perform abortions, as found at an abortion clinic, but rather obstetrician-gynecologists.
"The survey reflects what doctors and scientists know to be true. If they hold to their principles in their actual practice then they would have to be opposed to abortion," she told CP.
According to the study, physicians who marked they had a religious or moral opposition to abortion were more likely to state that pregnancy begins at conception.