Author: Clayton Ward Kischer, Ph.D.

QUID SIT VERITAS? The Odyssey of One Human Embryologist as a Modern Diogenes by Clayton Ward Kischer, Ph.D. Science should be revealed and evaluated by public exposure. But, when science, more specifically, human development, is being reinvented, it must be subject to analysis and critique by scientists who know the subject, so that the public might be properly informed to evaluate that science, lest it become politicized. Without proper dialogue, public policy could be changed or invoked to dramatically affect our societal evolution, and this has already occurred. Ignorance is no special domain of the unschooled. In the effort to make public policy, socio-legal politicos (some of them scientists) have misstated the factual knowledge of human embryology and engaged in a kind of "doublespeak". Further, the more outrageous the misrepresentations have become, the more frequent they have appeared. This signals the desperation that revisionists of human embryology display. The overkill has often resulted in gross canards. But, where is the ordinary outlet through or by which misleading comments or outright lies can be corrected? In 1990 Brent Bozell and Brent Baker edited a book entitled: "And That's The Way It Isn't" (Media Research Center, Alexandria, Virginia, 1990), which documented and confirmed what most people sensed and believed for many years: that the media has been and is heavily biased towards liberal politics and policies. The ordinary citizen expects a free press to report the truth. But, what has actually occurred has been an eclipse of truth and a dearth of balance. Bozell and Baker provide an example of media bias on the subject of abortion. They evaluated media labeling of proponents and opponents of abortion over the last four months of 1988. They found that proponents received positive labels 97% of the time, while opponents received positive labels only 21% of the time. This kind of bias seemed impressive to me; but, surely, I believed, not what one would ordinarily encounter when trying to correct false statements and concepts concerning science, especially when made by persons who are not scientists. I was wrong! Those in control of the major media sources are apparently unwilling to balance the cascade of false statements made with the real truth, even though they probably know the real truth, yet speak and act as though it does not exist. In 1989 Eleanor Smeal addressed a convention of NOW (National Organization for Women) in which she made the following statement. "What makes our country great is the Bill of Rights, which says you have the freedom to do what you want". I contend that this mind set is the legacy of a judicial system gone awry. Stability of any social system is usually threatened or strained the denser the population becomes. When this occurs, more controls must be involved, sometimes with abbreviation or even loss of some freedoms. However, in our country it seems the opposite has been occurring. Our population has nearly doubled in the past 50 years. Despite this fact, I contend that since the early 1950's, whether intended or not, decisions by the Supreme Court have set a course for public behavior based on a massive experiment: to see how much freedom the citizens of this country could exercise before the social system would come apart. A case can be made that the right to have an abortion is borne out of this "freedom" concept. Proponents of abortion find additional justification in errant conclusions drawn about human development in _Roe v. Wade_, and from other sources promoted by the major media outlets. Smeal compounded the errors in her speech by making another absurd comment, false not just by concept, but false through known biological fact: "everybody knows that life begins only after birth." At about the same time, a female candidate for a state office in New Jersey made the same statement via a political promo on cable channel WOR. I began to hear more of this kind of rhetoric. On the CNN Crossfire program of July 10th, 1990 the guest was a pediatric physician by the name of Holly Galland. The subject of the program was abortion and she made the following comment in response to a question as to when life begins: "Not even the Academy of Science (sic) can decide that." Of course, she meant the National Academy of Science. The Prehuman Claim Since I was trained as an embryologist, more specifically, an experimental embryologist that gravitated into the teaching and experience of human embryology soon after my Ph.D. degree, I began to take more notice of statements, such as the above, made within the public domain. I have been teaching the subject of human embryology in one form or another since 1960, mostly to medical students. Statements, such as those cited above, not only are absurd, but are politically motivated. Yet the problem was (and still is) that they were being expressed to a lay public, most of whom were most likely uninformed about human development. In the November 22nd, 1989 issue of _National Review_, Ernest van den Haag wrote an article titled "Is there a middle ground?" The substance of his article included several questionable statements concerning human embryology. For example, he claimed that the embryo is "pre-human". In support of this he stated that the embryo related to the human baby as a larva relates to a butterfly. This is a canard of the primary water. This comparison may satisfy contemporary social engineers but is biologically absurd. Even an entomologist would be grievously offended by such a notion. Van den Haag reaffirmed his claim in response to two letters sent to the _National Review_ (February 5, 1990) but he did so by stating: "things are what they are, not what they become. That goes for concepts, too" (_National Review_, February 5, 1990, pages 6-8). If van den Haag really believes this, then he need not have likened human development to that of an insect. He might as well have compared it to an auto factory, more specifically, an embryo compared to a fender. It makes as much sense. The effect is to reduce and diminish the quality and status of the human during development. No human embryologist, now or ever in recorded history, has ever referred to the human embryo as "pre-human". Is van den Haag suggesting that our science classes world-wide should now teach this new concept? An Embryologist Responds It was at this time that I took closer note as to what appeared in the print media and what was being announced via television and radio talk shows. I also noted that at this time there was no responsible retort to these wild claims that were being passed so easily and frequently through and among the lay public. I searched the literature for similar types of misrepresentations and to my surprise found numerous articles written essentially by psychologists, philosophers, and theologians which purported to invoke embryological facts but which were, in fact, misrepresentations and outright falsehoods. I found essentially no human embryologists who were answering these distorted claims. Therefore, it was at this time that I decided van den Haag's article should be rebutted. Ernest van den Haag is a political analyst. He has frequently contributed (and still does) to _National Review_ and has authored and co-authored books on socio-legal issues. To my knowledge, he has no background whatsoever in human embryology, yet in his article in _National Review_ he invoked a great deal of what he believes to be the science of human embryology. In fact, in that article he stated that as development proceeds "the embryo acquires human characteristics". Further, he asked "when does intrauterine life become human life?" He might defend his statements by claiming he was speaking rhetorically; but he fails to say so, or to distinguish between the biological terms and philosophical ones. As a consequence many readers have been confused, and often doubt their own common sense. I prepared a manuscript in rebuttal essentially to the van den Haag article. I sent this manuscript to _National Review_ and specifically to an assistant editor, Mark Cunningham. My cover letter indicated that I had been teaching human embryology for more than 25 years mainly to medical students and had wished to set the record straight on the misinformation within van den Haag's article. This manuscript neither advocated an anti- or pro-view of abortion nor did it include any political appeals. It contained only statements which referred to the so-called scientific information which van den Haag used in his essay, and reviewed what is currently known within the science of human embryology and how this contradicted the statements and inferences by van den Haag. This manuscript was rejected out- of-hand and returned to me with a cover letter indicating that their policy was one of not normally accepting unsolicited manuscripts but acquiring them from a standard pool of contributors from which they normally drew for inclusions in their issues. I also sent a copy of the manuscript to van den Haag but never received a reply. I then embarked upon a virtual three year effort to get this manuscript published. Having spent my career in a publish or perish atmosphere I have been no stranger to the mechanisms of writing and submitting manuscripts for publication and getting them accepted in various journals and dealing with reviewers and editors. Therefore, I fully expected this manuscript would be submitted for review by whichever editor of the journal to which it was submitted. The manuscript explained the need to reveal the known scientific facts about human development and was divided into four subtopics, each of which had been misrepresented, distorted or deliberately changed by many lay publications and which had been discussed on various talk shows, news programs, and by commentators, with respect to the "science" of human development. These four areas were 1) the beginning of life, 2) the quality of being human, 3) viability, and 4) sentience. The Beginning of Life In brief, what this manuscript said was that those invoking a question of when life began would fail to distinguish between the biological definition of life and philosophical, religious, social or political life. At best it was disingenuous for writers or commentators to raise the question of when life began and not to include what we know as the biological phenomenon of life. A phenomenon of life began in the evolutionary sense approximately 4 billion years ago. From a moment in time a system of reproduction was evolved which sustained a continuum from that original moment. That was the beginning of life. But, in all the previous comments written and spoken within the public issue of abortion, of which I was aware, this concept had rarely been discussed. The consequence of this was (and unfortunately still is) that many lay people were confused and even asked themselves if in fact that issue within the womb of the pregnant woman was really alive? At the time very few scientists were speaking out and answering these kinds of outrageous inferences. Physicians, especially, appeared to be conspicuously absent from the public debate. Therefore, I felt compelled to at least put forth the biological explanation of the concept of life. Indeed, in van den Haag's article in _National Review_ he makes the following statement: "The infant is unquestionably alive, unquestionably human, and viable outside the mother, whereas the fetus might not be." He offers no further clarification, or explanation of this statement. In an _amici curiae_ brief presented to the Supreme Court, specifically cited by Justice Blackmun, in the Webster case (In the Supreme Court of the United States, October, 1988. William L. Webster, et al., Reproductive Health Services, et al. Amici Curiae Brief of 167 Distinguished Scientists and Physicians Including 11 Nobel Laureates in Support of Appellees) it is stated that the beginning of life cannot be determined and cannot lend itself to an empirical test such as would take place in most bench-type scientific research. This is a presumptuous statement and most unfortunate that so-called scientists would make this outrageous claim. If they are referring to the beginning of life occurring over 4 billion years ago, they are correct, because that moment in time and the environmental conditions then existing can never be repeated. But to leave the issue there is more than disingenuous. What we have seen, and see, with every case of fertilization and subsequent pregnancy is the repeated observation of life forming as a new individual by the union of a sperm and ovum. From an experimental point of view, the continuum of human life has been confirmed with every case of fertilization since the first hominid was conceived. Further, in that same brief, the amici state that "the essence of life cannot be determined". This is in direct contradiction to perhaps the best definition of life, and its essence, ever put forward, that by Wendell M. Stanley, discoverer of Tobacco Mosaic Virus and Nobel Prize winner in 1946, in which he said: "The essence of life is the ability to reproduce. This is accomplished by the utilization of energy to create order out of disorder, to bring together into a specific predetermined pattern from semi-order or even from chaos all the component parts of that pattern with the perpetuation of that pattern with time - this is life." Stanley's definition satisfies most if not all biological scientists, and it should be satisfactory for virtually all human embryologists. But, of course it does not cut across all of the lines of esoteric definitions of life such as political, religious, financial, social, psychological, etc., and was never intended to do so. The major problem has been and continues to be the failure of many, e.g., the pro-choice advocacy, to distinguish, by what they write and what they say, between the biological distinction and the socio-legal distinctions. The Quality of Being Human The second topic which has been abused and which I described strictly in biological terms is the quality of being human. Indeed, as van den Haag stated in his article: "As development proceeds, the embryo acquires human characteristics." van den Haag further states the embryo lacks distinctly human characteristics which might entitle it to a social protection and then follows this by asking "when does intrauterine life become human life?" Rivers Singleton, Jr. wrote an article published in _Perspectives in Biology and Medicine_ (Paradigms of Science/Society interaction; The Abortion Controversy, 32:174-193, 1989), in which he suggested (wrongly, of course) that the human fetus contains gill slits, which would then put it in the category of a fish or an amphibian. Singleton has a Ph.D. in biochemistry. There is no indication that he has any background in anatomy or human embryology. Carl Sagan has been a major contributor at almost regular intervals in _Parade_ magazine, a nationally syndicated magazine delivered with Sunday newspapers throughout the nation. Carl Sagan (with wife Ann Druyan) wrote a solicitous article on abortion and human development in the April 22nd, 1990 issue entitled: "The Question of Abortion". Sagan is an astrophysicist and astronomer. There is no indication I have found that he has any background or training in human embryology. In this article he made several major errors concerning human development, but he also inferred that there are developmental stages in the case of the human which "resemble a worm, reptile, and a pig". In fact, Sagan and Druyan described a four week embryo with "something like the gill arches of a fish or an amphibian" and they also say it has a "pronounced tail". The real truth is that in the case of the human embryo, no gill slits ever appear. Further the human embryo never develops a tail. Some embryological texts refer to the caudal area of the human embryo as having a tail process. There are elements within that tail process which if in another specie would differentiate into a tail and its component parts, but in the case of the human these elements degenerate. There is an anomalous condition in which a caudal appendage will appear in the case of the human but this has no intrinsic movement and no coordinated differentiation of the bony and muscular tissue which would allow for intrinsic movement. It is a different kind of tissue altogether and in no sense would represent a tail. Van den Haag's query, and the errant statements by Singleton, Sagan, and others, are essentially grounded within what was known as, the Basic Biogenetic Law. This "law" was conceived in 1866 by a developmental biologist called Haeckel and from his ideas of development the axiom was developed which stated Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny. Literally, this means development, or the stages in human development, recapitulate (show again) the phylogeny (forms) of lesser species. Therefore, a frivolous notion followed which suggested that the adult forms of lesser vertebrates in the evolutionary tree were demonstrated in the embryonic forms of human development, a notion still found in biology texts today. Immediately after the article appeared in Parade by Sagan and Druyan, I called the New York office of Parade and spoke to one who gave his name as Larry Smith, Managing Editor. I complained about the many errors in the article and asked if parade would publish a brief article of corrections. I was told they would not. Further, Smith became very defensive concerning the Sagans. On August 19th, approximately 4 months later, they published a page of excerpts from letters they had received concerning the Sagans' article. Only one excerpt referred to a correction, and that one was phrased in such a way as to appear moot: "that criterion [for thought] is as arbitrary as all others mentioned ... viability, renal function, facial characteristics, etc... ." But, the editors simply ignored that fact with examples like the one from Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin: "I thought the article's effort at building a consensus was noble and much needed on this important issue"! The problem, of course, is that Sagan (and the Editors) attempt to build a consensus based on misrepresentations! It is little wonder then that even today writers such as van den Haag, Sagan and Singleton make the inference, assumed by many lay people, that human development passes through developmental stages of such lesser organisms as a worm, reptile, or a pig. The tragedy of this axiom really has been that it was obviated 38 years prior to 1866 by publication of the laws of Von Baer (1828). He stated, correctly, that developmental stages of higher organisms simply resembled the developmental or embryonic stages of lesser organisms. This means that the developmental stages of all vertebrates are simply similar, and that development follows an established plan, the basics of which are repeated from one species to the next. It also means that the differences between vertebrates as one ascends through the evolutionary tree are rather small, but one does not need to see major or extensive changes in order to distinguish between closely related species. For example, recently Morris Goodman of Wayne State University has shown that the DNA sequences of hemoglobin from humans and chimpanzees is approximately 98.4% identical. This is not really surprising to embryologists. That small 1.6% difference makes all the difference. And it is small differences which account for the uniqueness among closely related species. Viability The third topic which I considered in my manuscript and which had fallen prey to the political aspects of the abortion controversy was viability. _Roe v. Wade_, decided in 1973, tentatively established the quality of personhood for the developing human in terms of its viability, which the Supreme Court defined as that time of development at which the fetus, if born, would survive. The Court indicated survivability had been recorded at 24 weeks post-fertilization. To the human embryologist, and which should be of even more significance to obstetricians, is the fact that viability is really no landmark at all for establishing the rights or equal protection under the law for a newly born "person". The reason for this is that if a fetus is born prematurely its quality of life may be compromised and this becomes less secure the earlier the birth. Indeed, in terms of its biological well-being, a full term fetus is far better off than being born at 24 weeks. Cases are on record in which born fetuses have survived, as early as 22 weeks post fertilization. Normally, a fetus born at this time, even though its subsequent care is given through an incubator, chemical additive treatments or intubation to assist its breathing, and the best nursing attendants available, its long term survival may be seriously in jeopardy and the quality of its survival is correspondingly diminished. Viability as such would be important to a pro-life advocacy since _Roe v. Wade_ indicated that in the case of survival the fetus born at any specific time would enjoy equal protection of the law. Therefore the pro-life advocacy would prefer to see as early a birth as possible to which they could point and indicate that subsequent to that time, if it be 22 weeks or even earlier, no abortions should be allowed. But, to the human embryologist the use of viability to assign civil rights or civil protection to a born fetus is at best disingenuous and at worst a bogus issue. The quality of survival was never considered by the Roe court. However, it was discussed in the Webster case, and the "viability" concept was reaffirmed. Blackmun stated in the Roe case that the compelling point of the state's interest in the fetus was that of "viability" and that this was so because: "the fetus then presumably has the capability of meaningful (sic) life outside the mother's womb"! Blackmun references Dorland's 24th Medical Dictionary in defining viability, which is stated as: "can live after birth" and "capable of living outside the uterus". Meaningful is Blackmun's word, not Dorland's. One must ask meaningful to whom? If the fetus has its say it would stay in the womb until it was full term, and prior to the court's viability the fetus and embryo would, of course, be carefully and methodically developing for the purpose of being born at term! One of the more specious notions growing out of the "viability" concept is the added nonsense of capable of living (outside the womb) "on its own". This is deliberately deceitful, because not even a full term baby can "survive on its own". It needs more care than when in the womb. The Concept of Sentience The fourth topic in the manuscript was devoted towards sentience. This term from time to time has had different definitions. However, the generally accepted definition has been, and is, "awareness of one's self". This term is not derived from any aspect of human embryology, but rather it appears it was derived from the field of psychology. Clifford Grobstein, a developmental biologist, but not a human embryologist, seized upon this term and related it to thought. Interviewed by _Psychology Today_ in 1989 he presented six essential aspects of individuality. He related them to specific stages or times of development. Psychic individuality, he claimed, occurred at 26 weeks even though he admitted this was arbitrary. He identified this with sentience or thought. Sagan and Druyan in their article in Parade similarly claimed that sentience or "thought" occurred at 30 weeks of development post-fertilization. Likewise, van den Haag, in his article, implied that at the time of so-called sentience the brain or neural system dispensed awareness. One can only speculate at this kind of relationship. There are no definitive or conclusive data which would support the onset of thought in a human fetus. The tracings from electroencephalograms (EEGs) do not show "thought". Rather, the only conclusion we can draw, particularly in testing the neural activity in a fetus, is the reflection of "alertness of neurons". Thought is a concept and needs an historical component. No fetuses or infants relate that and, indeed, no infants can be interviewed so as to provide an historical record of having expressed thoughts which could be associated with any bodily actions or movements. Grobstein's stages are arbitrary and there is no scientific basis for them. In fact, all so-called stages are arbitrary and are important to only embryologists and obstetricians in the taxonomic sense. This is because all of development subsequent to initial contact of sperm and egg under conditions which we have come to understand as normal, is a fait accompli. All of development, therefore, is part of the continuum of human life. Sentience is not a topic taught in basic embryology courses by embryologists. Newborns do not respond to vocal commands. Therefore whether or not thought is part of the expressions of a newborn infant is moot and specious. Neonatologists who are used to producing and interpreting EEGs from newborns will admit to the many difficulties in interpreting the wave patterns. Usually there is a problem of background noise plus the lack of symmetry on the tracing patterns, and the irregularities involved in those patterns are normally reflecting what is called anarchy. A correlated and symmetrical tracing only gradually appears in electrocephalograms as development, post-birth, and maturing eventually occur. The Rejections This then was the substance of the manuscript which I had prepared in rebuttal to van den Haag's article in _National Review_ and which was summarily rejected by Assistant Editor Cunningham. The manuscript was then submitted in succession to both lay and scientific publications, including abbreviated versions to newspapers. In each case the substantive portions of the manuscript which I have just described were kept intact. However, the format and style was changed, although not significantly, according to the journal or media source to which I submitted it for consideration. Over the course of the next three years this manuscript was submitted to 13 lay publications and 5 scientific publications, each time being rejected and in virtually every case never submitted for review. Following the rejection by _National Review_ I wrote to _Reader's Digest_ and as per their instructions received by telephone I included in my letter a brief description of the manuscript and why I had written it. I then asked if they would be interested in the article. Their reply included the following sentence: "After careful consideration we have decided your material would not work as an original article in _Reader's Digest_." They went on to say that most of their articles "are prepared on assignment by staff writers or regular contributors to the magazine." Next, I submitted it to the _Atlantic_. Their reply was "I am afraid one of the two articles on abortion we just published, though different from the piece you propose, must preclude us from taking up the subject again for some while." Following this, I sent the manuscript to _New Republic_, _Family Circle_, and _The Saturday Evening Post_. Rejections followed each of these submissions even though the _New Republic_ and _Family Circle_ had previously published articles on abortion with false and misleading statements about human development. _Family Circle_ replied that the manuscript "just isn't right for us". The _New Republic_ replied with a form letter of rejection. _The Saturday Evening Post_, even though it is the official organ of the Benjamin Franklin Literary and Medical Society was similarly not interested. Their form letter of rejection included the comment "we feel this article is inappropriate for our readership". During this time I rewrote and reduced the manuscript in size so that it would conform to a newspaper Op-Ed piece. I then sent it to the _Los Angeles Times_, the _New York Times_, the _Chicago Tribune_, and the _Arizona Republic_. Each Op-Ed editor quickly rejected the article. I wrote another abbreviated form concentrating only on the origin of life and sent it to the Arizona Daily Star, which, to my surprise, published it. Subsequently I condensed all four of the topics within this manuscript to the format of another newspaper Op-Ed piece and submitted it to the Tucson Citizen, which published it. But the larger manuscript was still in limbo and I was still having great problems getting it accepted for publication. I submitted it to The New England Journal of Medicine as an unsolicited editorial opinion or special article, and, specifically, it went to the desk of Marcia Angell, M.D., Executive Editor. Apparently, it remained on her desk for approximately six weeks. Within that time I had attempted to call the Journal office and requested information as to the disposition of that manuscript. Finally, during the sixth week and after the fifth phone call I succeeded in talking to Dr. Angell about the manuscript. She had not sent it out for review and she had rejected it. The conversation went like this: Angell: If facts are misstated they don't necessarily have or those misstatements don't necessarily have any implications for an argument that involves a value judgement as the abortion argument does - and we are just not going to publish something on this issue that really using facts or not using facts or correcting facts or putting facts in a different perspective... Me: You are an M.D.? Angell: Yes Me: Do you believe in the biological basis for the practice of medicine? Angell: What are you talking about? Me: If a surgeon intervenes in a uterus to remove an embryo or a fetus it seems to me that surgeon ought to know whether or not whatever is being removed is alive, and whatever... Angell: (talkover) Why? Me: ... whatever is being removed whether or not it is human! Angell: Why? Why does he have to know that? Me: If you want to question that - why wouldn't you want to question elements in the Hippocratic Oath... for example, do no harm? Angell: I would! The _New England Journal of Medicine_ publishes routinely on the subject of abortion, in vitro fertilization, fetal tissue research and other socio-legal issues, as well as social policies. A cursory review of the table of contents of the _New England Journal of Medicine_ over the past several years will confirm these facts. Following this rejection I next sent the manuscript to Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. Again, the manuscript lay on the desk of the Editor, Richard Landau, for approximately six weeks. I eventually was able to talk to him on the telephone at which time he admitted the manuscript had not been sent out for review and told me "two's enough". I inquired of him what that meant since I knew of only one article in his journal published on abortion and that was by Rivers Singleton, Jr. I reminded him of several errors that Singleton had made in that paper, which I was trying to correct on the basis of factual and scientific knowledge in human embryology. Landau informed me that there was another manuscript that had been accepted for publication and would be published within the next several issues of the journal. Further, in the course of the conversation he said: "You should know that I am pro-abortion. Violently so!" Recognizing the futility of any further discussion I simply requested the return of the manuscript copies. I also discovered that Clifford Grobstein was, at that time, a member of the editorial board of Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. The second manuscript Landau referred to, that eventually was published in his journal, indeed, concerned abortion and the abortion controversy and was a very pro-abortion article in which the author, Robert T. Muller, a psychologist, justified abortion on the basis that our society executes convicted criminals and therefore the paradigm for killing was already embedded in our society (1991. In Defense of Abortion: Issues of Pragmatism Regarding the Institutionalization of Killing. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 34:315-325). This is at best a bizarre way to look at the justification for abortion. But, Muller was prophetic! On April 13, 1991, Judge Michael J. Noonan delivered a wholly odious opinion in the _State of New Jersey vs. Alexander Loce et al._ It seems Loce and friends were found guilty of trespassing while protesting around and about an abortion clinic in the effort to prevent the abortion of an embryo, which he had fathered. Noonan's decision included: "_Roe v. Wade_ is still the law of the land and this court is bound by it. Therefore, I find that the 8 week fetus (sic) in this case was a living human being that was legally executed (sic) pursuant to the United States Supreme Court decision in _Roe v. Wade_." Is this what we now should be teaching in classes of Human Embryology? Incidentally, the judge erred in identifying the 8 week embryo as a fetus. Noonan was simply amplifying what the Supreme Court had already decided. Brennan, for example, has publicly stated his position on the death penalty for born adults: "the best way in which we choose who will die reveals the depth of moral commitment among the living." (Are not the embryo and the fetus living?) Blackmun, when interviewed on 3 December, 1993, by Ted Koppel on the death penalty, said his concerns, with regard to equal protection, are: "the disturbing statistics that come in when one considers race"! Moral posturing by the likes of Justices Brennan and Blackmun are out of character. Obviously, Blackmun is not concerned when considering age, e.g. up to 24 weeks after conception. It is apparent that these two Justices would drown if caught in the shallow waters of moral outrage. I then sent the manuscript to _BioScience_, the official publication of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. Again, it was rejected without review. The Editor, Julie Anne Miller, included a comment in the cover letter stating that a returned copy contained reviewer comments. In fact, there were three comments, only, written on the manuscript, two of which were corrected typos, and did not constitute a bonafide review. The third comment concerned my correction of the fact that Singleton in his article in _Perspectives_ had inferred that the human embryo displayed gill slits and a tail. In my manuscript I corrected that by indicating that gill slits never appear in humans, and the embryos never display a tail, but that, unfortunately, the caudal area is referred to as a tail process. The so-called reviewer for _BioScience_ had written after that sentence "snide, again". After receiving the manuscript back from Dr. Miller and _BioScience_, I wrote to her that one comment written in a phrase on one copy of my manuscript did not constitute a bonafide review. I requested a copy of a review commentary and that not being available I requested that the manuscript be reconsidered and this time sent out for a real review. I never received a reply from her. Following this I retitled the manuscript to: "In Defense of Human Development" and submitted it to _Issues in Science and Technology_, then to Policy Review. Again, it was summarily rejected in both cases. Next, the manuscript went to _Pharos_, which is the official publication of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. Their reply, another rejection, included the following comments: "We have had this paper for a much longer time than in the case with other manuscripts. The delay in our getting back to you reflects the fact that there was considerable debate among the various members of the Editorial Board to whom we sent the paper regarding its suitability for publication. Everyone agreed that the paper was well written and it obviously deals with a topic of importance in our current society. Taking into account the pros and cons, however, I regret to say that we have come out on the side of not accepting the paper." To date, not a single major publication, lay or scientific, has published any article correcting the plethora of false statements about human development which have burdened the literature for the past 15 or more years. I next sent the manuscript to the _Western Journal of Medicine_. The letter of rejection included the following statement: "It is the policy of the Western Journal of Medicine to send (to the author) any available comments from the board's reviewers. This is intended to assist authors to rework manuscripts before submitting them to another publication." Rubber stamped in bold black letters at the bottom of this letter were the words "No comments received". This Journal returned my manuscript with the letter of rejection within 10 days. I also sent the manuscript to _Human Life Review_, but again it was returned with a brief cover letter indicating that it was essentially "inappropriate" for publication in _Human Life Review_, but one year later an article appeared on abortion with a somewhat romanticized approach. Thus, in all, this manuscript, essentially, was rejected, in one form or another, a total of eighteen (18) times. Second Manuscript While I was struggling to get this manuscript published a paper appeared in the _Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal_. It was the lead article in the very first issue of this journal, authored by Richard A. McCormick, a Jesuit priest. The title of the article was "Who or What is the Pre-Embryo?" In this article the Reverend McCormick called for a reconsideration of the time for ensoulment based upon Grobstein's so-called stage of developmental individuality. In essence, this "stage" was described as that point after which the embryonic mass could no longer divide and form a copy or multiple copies (twins or multiple identical individuals). This would be a time from 5 to 6 days and perhaps up to 14 days post-fertilization. The fallacy of this definition lies in the facts that monozygotic twins occur in only 10 of every 2700 live births, and at least 30% of all monozygotic twins (arising from one fertilized egg), occur within the first two or three mitotic cell divisions post-fertilization. Still further, the origin of monozygotic twinning is not known. It does not appear to be familial in origin, and therefore, is not predictable. Therefore, if ensoulment were to be withheld until after the inner cell mass stage, assuming that one could indeed tell at that stage that twinning had occurred, it would be withheld for approximately every 385 individuals until 1 had been determined. It seems this would constitute a major problem in ethics, especially for any religion or church. The editorial Statement of the _Kennedy Institute for Ethics Journal_ states that it "publishes opinion and analysis dealing with social, ethical, and public policy aspects of bioethics and related areas of 'applied' ethics. It presents varied points of view and encourages open debate of critical issues." Encouraged by this lofty and noble objective I wrote a reply to McCormick's article and submitted it to the _Journal_. The Story of the Preembryo In this article I reviewed all of the previous and contemporary textbooks used in human embryology, none of which used the term pre-embryo. It appears that this term, per se, was conceived by Clifford Grobstein in a 1979 article from Scientific American. It is most unfortunate that the newest, fifth edition (1993), of Keith Moore's textbook "The Developing Human" uses the term pre-embryo. However, Moore uses the term in a contradictory way. In subsequent correspondence which I have had with Keith Moore protesting the use of this term in his text, he replied that he understood the objection and offered to remove it for the next subsequent printing of that text. There has never been a historical record of the use of that term. Indeed, the renowned dean of human embryology, Bradley Patten, used the term embryo for every stage subsequent to the fertilized ovum (zygote). Further, the author of a new textbook, "Human Embryology And Teratology," Ronan O'Rahilly, indexes the term pre-embryo but this is what he states in his text in a footnote: "The ill defined and inaccurate term pre-embryo which includes the embryonic disk is said either to end with the appearance of the permanent streak or (in the _Nomina Embryologica_) to include neurulation. The term is not used in this book." While it is true that the current issue of _Nomina Embryologica_, the taxonomy of language for human embryology, does not _per se_ use the term pre-embryo, it does use as a heading pre-embryonic period. Pre-embryonic period implies a period of the pre-embryo. Because Keith Moore is currently a member of the nomenclature committee for the American Association of Anatomists, and a member of the committee on nomenclature for human embryology, I wrote to him in protest about the inclusion of the term pre-embryo in the third edition of _Nomina Embryologica_. His reply to me was: "The term pre-embryo does not appear in the third edition of _Nomina Embryologica_. This is at best disingenuous because, as stated above, there is no difference between the terms pre-embryonic and pre-embryo. In correspondence with Dr. O'Rahilly inquiring as to how this term found its way into _Nomina Embryologica_, Dr. O'Rahilly replied that he did not know and that even though he was a member of the International Anatomical Nomenclature Embryology subcommittee and a human embryologist, he was never solicited for his opinion. Then, how did "pre-embryonic" become incorporated into the current _Nomina Embryologica_ nomenclature? Perhaps, a statement at the beginning of the manual (page ix) may provide a clue: "1985 Twelfth International Congress of anatomists in London: Discussions at this and thereafter led to the present ... _Nomina Embryologica_"! Looking at the list of members of the last committee for _Nomina Embryologica_ this membership was comprised of individuals the world over. It may be that very few of these individuals were human embryologists. Indeed, Moore's text is the first one to include the term pre-embryo. However, predating this is a book advertised "for course consideration: Embryo Experimentation, (subtitled): Ethical, Legal and Social Issues" (1992, Cambridge University Press). It is edited by six faculty members from the Monash University Centre for Human Bioethics (Australia). Interestingly, the senior editor, Peter Singer has authored other books including, "Practical Ethics," "Marx," and "Should the Baby Live?" This book uses the term pre-embryo liberally, and advocates continuing "human pre-embryo research". Included are recommended guidelines on embryo experimentation. How can one avoid the feeling that the fox is running the chicken coop? Political correctness, deceit and fraud have found their way into the science of human embryology. The term preembryo is on the verge of having wide popular acceptance. On a February 4th, 1994 CNN broadcast of Sonya Live, which discussed genetic testing of in vitro fertilized embryos, Dr. William Gibbons, a Gynecologic surgeon from Eastern Virginia Medical College in Norfolk, Virginia, defended the term preembryo and freely (and without interruption) defined early stages of human development using such terms as trophoblast, etc. But, when a bioethecist, Dr. Diane Irving, protested, declaring the term preembryo a myth and attempting to use the identical terminology in her rebuttal as Dr. Gibbons had used, she was abruptly interrupted by Sonya, who declared such scientific terms as unsuitable for her listening audience. Currently [1994], the National Institutes of Health are holding hearings on proposals involving in vitro fertilization of donor ova. Of course, a significant amount of testimony is centering on the unethical and immoral use of zygotes, which some witnesses regard as allowable based on the early developmental stages as not constituting the new individual, thus, a preembryo. More Rejection, then Finally Acceptance In spite of the stated objective to publish articles on both sides of an issue, the _Kennedy Institute for Ethics Journal_ rejected my manuscript without review. I protested to the Editor, Renee Shapiro, and subsequently she apparently did seek a kind of review which, again, as in the instance of _BioScience_, came back with handwritten comment on a manuscript copy that I was "fossilized". The scientific data in this manuscript was not reviewed and not commented upon. I then sent this manuscript to _Cross Currents_, the official organ of the Association for Religion and Intellectual Life (ARIL), College of New Rochelle (New York). Again, the manuscript was rejected without review and without comments. Finally, I sent both manuscripts to _The Linacre Quarterly_, the editor of which is John P. Mullooly, M.D. The _Linacre Quarterly_ accepted both and eventually they were published. The first one, "In Defense of Human Development" appeared in the November 1992 issue, volume 59, number 4, pages 58-76. The second manuscript: "Human Development and Reconsideration of Insolement" appeared in the February 1993 issue, volume 60, number 1 pages 57-63. The problems of publishing the truth about human development are not just manifest in the difficulties related here. They can also be observed in some subsequent events, for example, in attempting to deliver the history of these rejections at a recent conference sponsored by the _Journal of the American Medical Association_ which took place in Chicago in September, 1993. When I was informed that there was to be a conference sponsored by the JAMA in Chicago in September of 1993 on Peer Review, which would be the perfect forum to relate the problems described above, I wrote to the organizer of that conference, Dr. Drummond Rennie, but, at the same time I called the Chicago office of the JAMA and made an inquiry about the meeting. I was told by Cheryl Manno, the person assigned to collate the abstracts and send them out for review that "We are still sending abstracts out for review." I then asked, if that is the case may I fax to her an abstract of the paper I would like to deliver from the podium. She said yes. I wrote the abstract and faxed it that afternoon and she confirmed by telephone the next morning that she indeed had received the abstract. The abstract I faxed was essentially the history of rejections including biased statements by some editors of the article on the misuse and false statements of the known science of human embryology within the abortion controversy. I waited several days and received a reply of my original letter to Drummond Rennie, the organizer of the conference, who said in the letter that the program had already been established and to allow me on the program would mean bumping someone off. I found Rennie's letter to be disconcerting since I had been told that abstracts were still being sent out for review. I wrote him back indicating that I had been told that the program had not yet been put together and asked him to reconsider. He replied and again refused my request, but did not reply to my claim that I had been told the program had not yet been established. It was interesting to me in the meantime to have received a flyer on the program to see the various sessions scheduled for the program and the names of the session chairmen. It was no small observation to me to see that the session to which my abstract would have been sent and in which I would have delivered my presentation was chaired by none other than Marcia Angell, the Executive Editor of the _New England Journal of Medicine_. If the abstract I faxed to the JAMA office had, indeed, been sent to review, it would seem logical that Dr. Angell would have reviewed it. The First Casualty of the Cultural War I believe Patrick Buchanan is right when he stated at the Republican National Convention that "our society is engaged in a cultural war". I also believe that the first and most significant casualty of this war has been, and continues to be the human embryo and human fetus. This casualty is not dead but severely wounded. Only total care and treatment with every resource in the armamentarium of truth can bring this wounded soldier back to full and vibrant life. Human embryology is a subject which is fast becoming incorporated into daily communication, but in a distorted "New Wave" form. It is not well understood by the lay public because the truth has not been given to them. But it is not just the lay public which has trouble interpreting the facts or science of human development. One can find this kind of problem within medical students (as well as physicians, e.g. Holly Galland). For example, a third year medical student called in to an afternoon radio talk show on KNST, Tucson Arizona, on April 17, 1993 in which he made the following statement: "In the emergency room, we pronounce a person dead when the heart stops beating, I would like to propose we just reverse that, that life begins when the heart starts beating." Clearly, there is a problem here, not just in communication, but in education, particularly that of medical students. Human Embryology and Medical Education The College of Medicine at the University of Arizona, and many other medical schools, does not offer a credit achieving course in human embryology to the medical students. It never has. When it had been proposed in the past to do this, the curriculum committee rejected the proposal on the basis that it would provide one more course with a potential failing mark for the medical student, which they were loath to do. We now know the importance of knowledge about human embryology and it's relevancy in such profound elective social pursuits such as in vitro fertilization, abortion, fetal tissue research, in utero fetal surgery and fetal farming. It should be incumbent upon every medical school in this country to provide a thoroughly grounded course in human embryology to medical students. It should further be the mission of every school or college of medicine in the United States to provide a service of education concerning human development with the lay public through seminars, public lectures and forums and through published communications by appropriate news services. Only in this way are we going to alert the lay public to the gravity of the condition of our wounded casualty in this cultural war. It is not an easy task, particularly when the ground work has been laid to obviate many of the scientific facts known about human embryology for the sake of political correctness (PC) and expediency. One such example of PC lies in the fact that many medical schools, the University of Arizona included, no longer require their graduates to take the Hippocratic Oath. Rather, a substitute oath is given to the graduates, or at least offered as an alternative to the Hippocratic Oath. One of these alternatives is called the Oath of Lasagna. In this oath the reference to abortion has been removed, which is incorporated in the Hippocratic Oath. In the Oath of Lasgna it is stated "It may also be within my power to take a life, this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty." This is more politically correct and in tune with our times, apparently, although in direct contradiction to everything that is taught in medical school to the student. It seems paradoxical in view of the fact that the prevailing concept taught in medicine today is that the human fetus is a second patient. This is where science has been clearly separated from the law. The "second patient" is recognized medically from the point of diagnosis of pregnancy, but the court (_Roe v. Wade_) only recognizes it at 24 weeks post-fertilization. Why is this so? The legal "choice" pundits say the rights of the mother cannot be superseded. Why? Why are not the rights of the mother and that of the conceived at least equivalent? After all, the mother is no longer living for one, but for two, and a good mother will, no doubt, sacrifice habits and conduct to effect proper care of the "second patient". Some states have already prosecuted pregnant alcoholic or cocaine addicted mothers for abuse in cases where there have been compromising effects (which are permanent) on the fetus or newborn. The Supreme Court decisions, indirectly, do not support the states' caveats. The embryo and early fetus are exceedingly small, cannot protest or produce an outwardly recognizable sign that they are in danger, and, therefore, cannot signal to third parties that something is threatening or wrong. In the final distillation of the Court's (and other's) decision can be found the answer to WHY?: It is a matter of arrogance!, a characterization to which the court (and others) would be loathe to admit. _Quid Sit Veritas_? This chronicle is a revelation of the attempts to bring scientific knowledge of human development before the public, which has been exposed (and still is) to an excess of misrepresentations. Generally, it has been the case that the truths within science have been sought and revealed by those who know the subject best. Sadly, this has not been true in the case of human development. Political imperatives have allowed other than human embryologists to speak for human embryology and to gain credibility through acceptance by the media. Science in its purest form is the pursuit of truth, and repeated confirmations, over time, can produce absolute truths. But, truth is often obscured by relevancy. To be politically correct in our present time one often is driven to qualify the truth and declare that there are no absolutes. In the absence of absolutes, quality and status become arbitrary, and value can be redefined at will. The consequence of this to human embryology is that the value of the human embryo is now being reduced to the surgeon's instrument and the research bench. Nevertheless, no amount of revisionism can obscure the fact that one of the great absolute truths is that LIFE has been a gift, provided in virtual perpetuity in the form of a continuum renewed through a system called reproduction, which is the essence of life. "All truths pass through three stages. First, they are ridiculed; second, they are violently opposed; third, they are accepted as being self evident." - Arthur Schopenauer (Philosopher)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------- AUTHOR: Clayton Ward Kischer, Ph.D., Dept. of Anatomy, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85724 TITLE: "QUID SIT VERITAS?: The Odyssey of One Human Embryologist as a Modern Diogenes" DATE: July, 1994 PUBLICATION: _Science for Life_, vol. 4. no. 1 ORGANIZATION: Scientists for Life, Inc., PO Box 3672, Allentown, PA 18106-0672. KEYWORDS: Fetal Development, Embryology, Fetal Personhood, Media Bias, U.S. Supreme Court FILENAME: SciForLife1.July94 CONTRIBUTOR: Keith Crutcher -------------------------------------------------------------------------------