Bill Clinton has been accused of ignorance or wilful distortion of basic biology by claiming human embryos are not ‘fertilised’.
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The former US President was attempting to justify destructive experiments on human embryos by saying the embryos are not being “used for a process that would allow them to be fertilised and become little babies”.
Mr Clinton repeated the claim several times in his interview with American TV news network, CNN.
CNN’s interviewer, Dr Sanjay Gupta, is a leading expert in the field. He failed to correct Mr Clinton’s terminology. Dr Gupta is known for his pro-abortion views.
But critics have been quick to point out that embryos are the product of fertilisation, and naturally develop into babies without being ‘fertilised’ again.
Some say the former world leader has betrayed an inadequate knowledge about embryo research, but others suggest his application of the wrong term was deliberate.
Dr Gupta’s failure to clarify Mr Clinton’s comments has been taken by some as “collusion” in an attempt to change the definitions of embryonic life in order to justify controversial experimentation.
Political blogger Cranmer suggests that Mr Clinton was “actually using ‘fertilised’ in the sense of ‘implanted'” in order to persuade viewers to support the research.
Applying the term ‘fertilised’ in this way implies that embryos only begin to develop into humans after they are implanted in a mother’s womb.
Using this terminology, embryonic experimentation – taking place before the embryo is implanted – can be made to sound as though it does not involve destroying a human life.
By discussing embryonic stem cell research in this way, Cranmer writes, “it is evident that he is manipulating the change in terminology and definitions in order to persuade the American people of the utter reasonableness of his view”.