According to the Washington (D.C.) Examiner, a conservative political magazine, the recent worldwide March for Science, including the ones in Maine, were nothing more than the “left’s war on science.” I am here to say that conclusion is scientifically falsifiable.

The Examiner denies the march was non-partisan by noting that it was led by “pseudo-liberal scientists” and other “activist liberal groups.” The magazine also point out that the march was held on the heels of the decidedly anti-Trump “Women’s March.” All of these are valid observations. Unfortunately that is where the magazine stops reporting facts and starts proselytizing their agenda unfettered by facts.

The Examiner claims the progressive left only supports science when it agrees with their politics. They point out that the liberal’s support of the “settled science” of climate change, of abortion and of personally defined gender identity are “decidedly anti-science,” and therefore are just political opinions. They claim that “science is never settled” (i.e. science is only unproven theories), that science tells us abortion destroys nascent human life and that infants are always born biologically distinct. Nothing could be further from the truth.

OK, let’s see if the Examiner’s claims hold up. Their first claim is that, “Science tells us that abortion destroys nascent human life.” No one denies that first-trimester abortion will prevent “nascent human life” from further development. The premise behind the argument that “abortion destroys nascent human life” is that “nascent human life” is a person and, therefore, abortions murder babies.

This is just the conservative, evangelical Christian religious belief, unfounded by any scientific medical evidence that human life not only begins at conception, but that at the moment an egg is fertilized it is a person. The overwhelming majority of researchers who study human development agree that human life begins when brainwaves are detected from the fetuses’ cerebral cortex that show thought and conscious awareness. That doesn’t happen until week 24 of gestation, well after the limit for abortions.

Here is the Examiner’s second claim: “Science tells us that infants are always born biologically distinct.” When an egg completes the developmental process the baby born will usually, but not always, show biologically distinct characteristics of male or female. To claim that always happens is just to advance the argument that the sex of a newborn can be determined just by looking at the infant. A more simplistic misunderstanding of human sexuality and gender identity does not exist.

Gender identity determines in part how you understand yourself and how you relate to others in society. No one gets to choose their gender identity, or their sexual orientation, for that matter. Your gender identity and sexual orientation are largely the result of biological processes that occur during gestation. Calling either a choice is as ludicrous as claiming one can decide what race to be born.

Human development is very complex, so complex that it is a wonder there are not more people whose development does not follow the simplistic high school biology textbook version of human development. That version tells us that people born with XX or XY chromosomes are, respectively, female or male. That is simply just not the case.

While doing some research, I learned of a person with XX chromosomes who identifies as a male, is attracted to females and has a build similar to a male body builder. If, as the Examiner suggests, we simply use the XX chromosome to determine who is female, the so-called North Carolina bathroom law would require this person to use the women’s bathroom. Good luck with that.

Publications like the Examiner want to muddy the waters around scientific research. But their arguments don’t hold up, and people won’t have it.

The March for Science, prompted by the Trump administration’s cuts to research funding, was a nonpartisan public statement that politically unfettered scientific research will help discover the cause of climate change, or find a cure for cancer or HIV/AIDS. Fully funding scientific research, free from religious dogma or a conservative political agenda, will save lives. That should be a bipartisan goal.

Tom Waddell is the president of the Maine chapter of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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