96% of biologists affirm that life begins at conception

A University of Chicago academic has conducted research that found almost 96% of biologists surveyed think that life begins at conception.

The research by Steve Jacobs, PhD, found that 5,337 biologists (96%) who responded to a questionnaire affirmed that a human’s life begins at fertilization, with 240 (4%) rejecting that view. The majority of the sample identified as liberal (89%), pro-choice (85%) and non-religious (63%). In the case of Americans who expressed party preference, the majority identified as Democrats (92%).

The survey was for a working paper that was part of Mr Jacob’s dissertation for the University of Chicago’s department of Comparative Human Development.

While the view responds to the descriptive question of when human life begins, it does not answer the normative question of when ought a foetus be worthy of ethical value and legal consideration. However, an attendant survey of 2,899 American adults found that 81% selected biologists as the group most qualified to answer the question of when a human’s life begins, indicating that the great majority think the question can be answered descriptively, rather than normatively.