In the article “Hundreds rally for abortion rights in Portland” the overturn of Roe v. Wade (June 25), the Portland Press Herald quotes the Rev. Jane Field, executive director of the Maine Council of Churches. She says that some people believe life begins at conception, then asserts “that’s a religious belief, not a scientific fact … Religious beliefs shouldn’t be law because then it imposes one version of religion on everybody.”

With all due respect, the Rev. Field is mistaken. Human embryologists agree life starts at the moment of conception and that the zygote is a genetically unique, whole human being. A zygote, embryo and fetus are what human beings look like at that phase in their development.

The American College of Pediatricians concurs with the scientific evidence that life begins at conception.

Where people differ in their opinions is when personhood (also know as “ensoulment”) starts; this is indeed a philosophical question, with many considering personhood as integral to being a human being, and so in their view, it is highly probable personhood is established at the point of fertilization.

Abortion ends a human being’s life; that is a scientific fact. Whether it ends the life of a person is a philosophical question. We can’t have a meaningful conversation about the morality of abortion without acknowledging both facts and beliefs.

Zoe Gaston
South Portland

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