Friday, October 15, 2010


When does a human embryo truly become human? A little story might help to clarify this question. In 1921, a hard-working, Jewish tailor left his dear wife at the abortionist on the way to work. He worked long hours for little pay, and they already had five additional mouths to feed. At the end of his work day, he returned to the abortionist to pick up his wife. However, the abortionist hadn’t taken her yet. The impatient husband saw this as providential and scooped up his wife and brought her home to eventually have her sixth.

On May 20, 1922, a previously unwanted baby was born was born to Fanny and Joseph. Not only was this embryo human, but on June 15, 1945 this embryo became Milton Mann, my father. In 1945, he married Toby Katz, and two years later in 1947, I was born. That little aggregate of cells, which was my father, in a sense, contained me, and from this same aggregate my daughter, Leora, came forth in 1972, and her three daughters after her. Following me, Gary came forth in 1950 and Richard joined us in 1956. Although we never constituted the “foursome” that Dad had been hoping for; nor did we even become esteemed doctors or lawyers, but instead – and perhaps more importantly – we continue to cherish to memory of the one who beat the odds and survived the abortionist’s scalpel, someone who loved us in his own quiet and determined way.

When does a clump of cells become a human being? When the egg extends an open-door (or membrane) to the sperm? I do not have the wisdom to pick this question apart, but I do know that, even at the beginning, there was something precious in my grandmother’s womb, and I believe that there was something providential in its protection.

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