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Incidentally, equal difficulties attend the definition of death, which also requires the interaction and evaluation of nonscientific agencies such as the law and various religious groups.

An even more difficult question relates to the issue of the appearance of consciousness and individuality in terms of information and self-awareness. There is no generally accepted scientific proof that a fetus has consciousness in the sense of self-awareness.

If that is what is presumed to be there a priori according to some nonscientific belief, then of course we can extrapolate to value judgments as we wish, and say that in an abortion something dies that we think is human. But that would be no more scientifically valid than the assertion that a fertilized egg is the first occasion that all the requisite information for a human being is brought together and is therefore on that basis somehow sacred. In any case, even nonscientists differ in their views on these questions depending on their prior beliefs. The fact is that people had a full spectrum of such beliefs even before scientists found out the structural details of DNA, spermatozoa, eggs, fetuses, and human development. It is likely that this spectrum of beliefs will exist even after much more is known scientifically about these things.

It is debatable that abortions will play a role in whether the human race survives or not. Whatever one's position in this debate, it is a scientifically inaccurate position to contend that a fertilized egg represents a unique privileged biological state or that there is a uniquely definable moment of conception. No amount of personal scientific credentials can justify this assertion as scientific in the face of so many factual counterexamples of the kind that I have mentioned, and in the face of questions of value with which science cannot deal.

Having said this much, and particularly because I have taken this position, I must express my opinion as an individual citizen. I believe that it is an infringement upon the rights of a woman to tell her what to do with her eggs, fertilized or not. I believe that the development of a humane and lawful position and example on this matter in every nation is a good thing and a hope for less privileged nations.

Finally, I believe that the dignity and freedom and individuality of persons does not rest on arbitrary pseudoscientific definitions but on the consideration of all facts and values in a pluralistic manner. This evaluation involves legal precedent and religious beliefs, and it must be settled by law, for it cannot be settled by scientific experiment. The role of scientists in such an issue is to tell people what scientists know, what science can do and what science cannot do. The decision must then be made on larger grounds, not by some simple appeal to scientific technology nor according to the dogmas of any single group, however sincere its beliefs.

I hope you find these remarks of some use. Thank you.
Senator Bayh. Thank you, professor.

STATEMENT OF GERALD M. EDELMAN, M.D., PH.D. Mr. Chairman, and members of the subcommittee: I am pleased to have this opportunity to testify in these hearings. Perhaps I should begin by identifying my fields of expertise and by briefly discussing my background. Although I am a Professor at the Rockefeller University in New York, I do not repre

sent that institution here. Rather, I speak as a scientist with some experience in cell biology and in molecular biology, and also as a concerned citizen. My main fields of scientific inquiry are immunology (or how the body distinguishes self from not-self) and areas of cell biology, particularly cell growth and division, and analysis of the structure of spermatozoa, including those from human beings.

I was first educated as a physician and after a year of medical training at the Massachusetts General Hospital, spent two years in general practice, including obstetrics, as Captain in the United States Army. Subsequent to that, I obtained a doctoral degree in protein physical chemistry. For the last fourteen years., I have spent most of my time doing medical research. In 1972, I was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for work on the chemical structure of antibodies.

As I understand it, one of the main questions before this committee is whether we can tell when life, particularly human life, begins. I hope to show that, from the scientific point of view, this question is unanswerable, because it is not formulated in terms that can be dealt with operationally. It is important, I believe, to make this remark before getting to any substantive matters, in order to avoid large amounts of useless rhetoric. I should add that it is equally useless to comment on tautologies represented by statements that "the union of the sperm and the egg represents the first occasion in which the full genetic potential exists for the growth of an animal,” a statement which is undeniable by logic alone.

The detailed comments I shall make about the role of science in such matters may sound negative to this subcommittee, but I believe that there are many questions that cannot be answered by scientific experimentation that are nonetheless important and need to be answered. It seems to me that this in no way restricts the value of expert testimony by scientists. Indeed, one of the tasks before this committee is to determine whether the main question can be answered by scientists. I believe it cannot, but also believe that my obligation is to explain why it cannot. If you know what you cannot do, you are way ahead, even in fields outside of the law.

It may seem to this committee, which has heard the strong statements of previous testimony, that this is a weaker position. But I believe that the statements made in that testimony represent a straw man, consisting of a mixture of scientific fact, philosophic conjecture and personal opinion, all represented as scientific. In rebuttal to this position, I can only say that I know of no scientific paper in any reputable journal that has proven when life indeed begins. If such a paper exists, I would certainly be glad to know of it and to know whether its claims have been verified.

The great advances in modern biology at the level of both living cells and the molecules of which they are made reveal that there is no scientifically sound way of distinguishing the living from the non-living. For example, viruses have all the properties of living cells except the capacity for independent existence: they contain genetic information and they evolve, reproduce themselves and grow. Yet, they have a completely definable molecular structure and they crystallize just as molecules crystallize and may therefore seem to be "dead.” At a higher level, it is clear that there is a continuum of properties possessed by cells, tissues, organs and individuals. If one asserts that a fertilized egg contains a full complement of genes from the father (sperm) and the mother (unfertilized egg), and is therefore somehow privi. leged as "more alive,” counter examples can easily be brought to mind. Biologists have produced complete frogs from eggs alone without sperm and have even produced frogs from the nuclei of skin cells which contain just as much genetic information as a fertilized egg. Such complete genetic information is, in fact, in every cell of the body except sperm and eggs, yet no one raises issues about the loss of skin cells or even brain cells for that matter. Losing a sperm (or millions of them) or losing an egg each month would on this basis be a horrendous loss, for they too are "alive" yet it occurs normally to everyone. From this point of view, a zygote needs no more protection from the law than an egg.

If one somehow attempts to glorify a fertilized egg or even an early embryo, one must confront questions that are not capable of scientific answers. At what step of development does a living, individual human being appear? This is essentially a religious and moral question and is therefore open to sectarian interpretations and prejudices. Science, of course, can assert that people are not cells or just collections of cells. It is the set of capacities of a whole per

son, e.g., the capacity to be conscious, self-aware, develop and absorb culture that defines an individual. Although a fetus may have a potential for these, it has no more than any other collection of cells and certainly has not these capacities. Incidentally, equal difficulties attend the definition of death, which also requires the interaction and evaluation of non-scientific agencies such as the law and various religious groups.

An even more difficult question relates to the issue of the appearance of consciousness and individuality in terms of information and self-awareness. There is no generally accepted scientific proof that a fetus has consciousness in the sense of self-awareness. If that is what is presumed to be there a priori according to some non-scientific belief, then of course we can extrapolate to value judgments as we wish, and say that in an abortion something dies that we think is "human." But that would be no more scientifically valid than the assertion that a fertilized egg is the first occasion that all the requisite information for a human being is brought together and is therefore on that basis, somehow sacred. In any case, even non-scientists differ in their views on these questions depending on their prior beliefs.

The fact is that people had a full spectrum of such beliefs even before scientists found out the structural details of DNA, spermatozoa, eggs, fetuses, and human development. It is likely that this spectrum of beliefs will exist even after much more is known scientifically about these things. It is debatable that abortions will play a role in whether the human race survives or not. Whatever one's position in this debate, it is a scientifically inaccurate position to contend that “a fertilized egg represents a unique privileged biological state or that there is a uniquely definable "moment of conception." No amount of personal scientific credentials can justify this assertion as scientific in the face of so many factual counter examples of the kind that I have mentioned, and in the face of questions of value with which science cannot deal.

Having said this much, and particularly because I have taken this position, I must express my opinion as an individual citizen. I believe that it is an infringement upon the rights of a woman to tell her what to do with her eggs, fertilized or not. I believe that the development of a humane and lawful position and example on this matter in every nation is a good thing and a hope for less privileged nations. Finally, I believe the dignity and freedom and individuality of persons does not rest on arbitrary pseudo-scientific definitions but on the consideration of all facts and values in a pluralistic manner. This evaluation involves legal precedent and religious beliefs and must be settled by law for it cannot be settled by scientific experiment. The role of scientists in such an issue is to tell people what scientists know, what science can do and what science cannot do. The decision must then be made on larger grounds, not by some simple appeal to scientific technology nor according to the dogmas of any single group, however sincere its beliefs.

OF

STATEMENT OF NORTON ZINDER, PH. D., PROFESSOR

GENETICS, ROCKEFELLER UNIVERSITY

Dr. ZINDER. Senator Bayh and distinguished committee members, it is an honor for me to be present today to testify before this committee.

However, if I am here as a scientist-expert, I must confess that it is with a certain sense of incongruity, for I do not feel that the issue before this committee is a scientific one but rather one of dogma. The major area where science enters the issue of abortion is in the medical practice relating to the technology of the procedures used.

Having said this, I should identify myself. I was trained as a geneticist-microbiologist. With Joshua Lederberg Nobel laureate, I was responsible for the discovery of bacterial transduction—the ability of certain bacterial viruses to carry genetic material from one bacterium to another-a special form of sexuality.

I have also been deeply involved in studying the nature of the genetic code, the details of protein synthesis and the elements that regulate gene function. This work has all been done with microorganisms, and yet it is our essential belief in the unity of living processes that allows us to extrapolate from such creatures to man. Thus the genetic code as we know it is universal and with only elaboration of detail, the fundamental genetic mechanisms are also universal.

I am an elected member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, and have been a member of a numbr of Government advisory bodies including one in which I just completed my role as chairman of a committee to review a large area of research under the auspices of the National Cancer Institute. I have been privileged to receive several awards and honors from my colleagues. I am currently professor of genetics at the Rockefeller University.

Now to the matter at hand. To the biological scientist, life can only be defined as a capacity to grow and reproduce. It is a continuum.

What I mean by this is that no living form arises spontaneously and that only living forms can give rise to living forms. Thus in every sense that we might understand it, an unfertilized ovum and the spermatozoa which might fertilize it must be considered alive. They are as alive as any bacterial culture growing in my laboratory or every bit of tissue growing in flask.

Viruses, the simplest of living creatures, can almost indefinitely await the arrival of an appropriate host cell, and then in a brief period of time multiply to give rise to hundreds or thousands of progeny. Spores and seeds of many organisms await the appropriate environment to germinate and give rise to organisms like their progenitors. One could go on indefinitely describing the different reproductive modes of the manifold species that inhabit this earth, but this would add nothing to the matter before you.

I know that it has been argued that the individual and unique genetic identity of a conceptus occurs at the moment of fertilization or shortly thereafter. Indeed, barring certain genetic accidents, as far as we know now this is true, but is no more true for humans than for any other sexually reproducing species, from animals to plants.

Scientifically speaking, there is no evidence of any qualitative difference between fertilization in humans and fertilization in any other organism. Since you are not here discussing the issue of abortion in any organism other than man, it is clear that there must be something else involved; some special property ascribed to humans which makes this question so difficult.

What constitutes this special property is a matter of opinion and religious belief, and not a matter of science. There is nothing uniquely human about the union of sperm and egg. Scientifically we cannot answer the question of when life begins. To answer the question thus becomes purely a rhetorical ploy. It is a matter whose definition can be exploited by any partisan who wishes to impress his views upon his follows.

The more focused and rational question is, when can the fetus live independently of the mother? On this question I have no special competence, not being a physician, but it is generally accepted that this occurs late during the third trimester of pregnancy. Until that time, the fetus depends totally on the mother for nutrition, oxygen, the removal of waste products of metabolism and perhaps unknown developmental signals; contributions which are required for the full realization of its potential.

Thus if we use the word "living” as applied to humans, to decide what may not be done, we come to the absurdity of having to save every ovum that each mature female produces every month and the billions of spermatozoa continuously produced by the mature male.

What are the consequences of restricting abortion?

The pregnant woman is forced to have a child which she does not desire--her health, mental and physical, can be put in jeopardy.

I will not touch on the issues of the effects of illegal abortion and the special hardships imposed upon the poor and underprivileged. Others, I am sure, have testified on these matters. However, as a geneticist, I am concerned about the matters. However, as a geneticist, I am concerned about the restriction that it would impose on abortion for those genetic diseases for which we have no treatment and for which diagnosis can now be made in utero.

The option of the family to decide whether or not to bring a defective child into the world would be lost. Each year as our understanding grows, it becomes possible to diagnosis more and more specific genetic diseases before the birth of a defective child, particularly those involving chromosomal and enzymatic abnormalities. This is accomplished by removing a little of the amniotic fluid from the pregnant woman's uterus and examining the cells it contains.

Thus today, Down's syndrome or Mongolism, which is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome, as first described by Dr. Lejune, could be essentially eliminated by such testing and abortion of the affected fetus. A number of other genetic diseases can be circumvented in this way, thereby preventing untold misery for parents and heavy burdens on society.

As a scientist, but even more as a concerned human being, I can only appeal to the members of this committee not to impose the beliefs and opinions of particular groups on society as a whole. There is not—nor need there ever be—a requirement that any individual have, or participate in performing, an abortion. Such decisions in a free and democratic society are best left to the discretion of the parties directly concerned.

Thank you.

STATEMENT OF NORTON D. ZINDER, PH.D. Senator Bayh and distinguished Committee Members. It is an honor for me to be present today to testify before this committee. However, if I am here as a scientist-expert, I must confess that is is with a certain sense of incongruity, for I do not feel that the issue before this committee is a scientific one but rather one of dogma. The major area where science enters the issue of abortion is in the medical practice relating to the technology of the procedures used.

Having said this, I should identify myself. I was trained as a geneticistmicrobiologist. With Joshua Lederberg (Nobel laureate), I was responsible for the discovery of bacterial transduction-the ability of certain bacterial viruses to carry genetic material from one bacterium to another-a special form of sexuality. I have also been deeply involved in studying the nature of the genetic code, the details of protein synthesis and the elements that regulate gene function. This work has all been done with microorganisms and yet it is our essential belief in the unity of living processes that allows us to extrapo

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