Professor Jerome Lejeune is a doctor of medicine and a doctor of
philosophy (biology) of the University of Paris. He is the medical officer in
charge of the department caring for disabled children at the Hospital des
Enfants Malades (Sick Children's Hospital) in Paris. This was the first
children's hospital in the world having been founded in the late 18th century.
He has spent ten years in full-time scientific research and is now Professor of
Fundamental Genetics at the Université Rene Descartes in Paris. This is one of
the ten universities of the former University of Paris which was divided in
1969. He was appointed a University Professor of the former University of Paris
Professor Lejeune is a member of the American Academy of Arts and
Sciences, of the Royal Society of Medicine (London), and the Pontifical Academy
of Sciences (Rome) and holds honorary doctorates from the Universities of
Dusseldorf and Pamplona. He has been awarded the Kennedy award which is an
international award given every three years for work in the field of mental
retardation. The award winner is selected by an international board of
scientists. In 1970, he received the William Allen Memorial Medal from the
American Society of Human Genetics. This is another international award given
only to human geneticists. The medal winner is selected by a U.S. board of
geneticists. In 1966, he received what is known as a special distinction for
scientific writers involved in biology from the Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics. In 1962, he received the biological prize of the Academy of Science
After working specifically with mongoloid children, I demonstrated
that this disease was due to an extra chromosome, and it was for this research
that I received the Kennedy Award from the late President.
With my colleagues in Paris, we have particularly described many
different chromosomes of man and of primates like the great apes. This type of
study has given a new glimpse into the evolution of species. Part of the study
has already been published and the remainder will be published shortly. We are
deeply involved in new techniques of analysis, and have achieved specific
recognition of the old and the new chromosomes during cell divisions.
We are also working on the effect of super-numerary chromosomes. In
mongoloid children, we have recently demonstrated an excess of a specific
enzyme, super-oxyde dis-mutase. The eventual relationship between this trouble
and the mental retardation of the affected child is under in-vestigation. From
this research and other investigations on the clinical functioning of the brain
we find no indication that appropriate medication is impossible. In other
words, on theoretical grounds, we consider that a medical cure of the mental
deficiency is worth investigation.
Q. How far has this medical investigation proceeded?
A. It is very difficult to tell. It's like hunting a bear, before you
have shot him, you cannot say your have won the trick. We know we are on the
same track, but before having the skin we cannot say anything.
Q. How far away are you from seeing the bear?
A. I mean the disease is the bear, and we are going to shoot the
disease, not the baby indeed. But for the moment, we know from different parts
of science that the functioning of the brain can be commenced by various
chemicals which in some particular diseases which produce mental deficiencies,
are not in the right amount. Now in the case of Trisomy 21 I am not at all
going to say the cure is just around the corner. I don't know, but we know
enough to consider that on theoretical grounds the idea that nothing could be
done because it had an extra chromosome is not warranted. On the contrary,
because it has an excess of normal material they probably have some prediction
of normal things but at too great an extent and if we could just block this
prediction they would come back slowly to normal. That is what we can say
honestly, on theoretical grounds. But before it has been achieved I cannot say
Q. Would you be able to say that you've achieved any significant
breakthrough towards the goal?
A. Well, I would say that the discovery of super-oxide dis-mutase was
the first showing that the turnover of the chemical reaction was increased. To
call it a breakthrough or not will depend on the signification it will have and
we will know in a few years from now if it was just a little battle or if it
was a real battle. Nobody knows that in science at first glance.
Q. How many years would you call a few?
A. Something that a living person can expect to see.
The transmission of life is quite paradoxical. We know with certainty
that the link which relates parents to children is at every moment a material
link, for we know it is from the en-counter of the female cell (the ovum) and
the male cell (the spermatozoa), that a new individual will emerge. But we know
with the same degree of certitude that no molecule, no individual particle of
matter enclosed in the fertilized egg, has the slightest chance of being
transmitted to the next generation. Hence, what is really transmitted is not
the matter as such, but a specified conformation of the matter, or more
precisely, an 'information'.
Without reviewing the complex machinery of coded molecules like DNA,
RNA, proteins, and so on, which are the vehicle of heredity, we can see that
this paradox is common to all the processes of reproduction, whether natural or
man-made. For example, a statue must be built out of some material, and could
not exist if made of pure void. During the casting process, there exists at
every moment a contiguity of molecules between the statue and the cast, and
later, between the cast and the replica. But, obviously, no natter is
reproduced, for the replica could be plaster, or bronze, or anything else. What
is indeed reproduced is not the matter of the statue, but the form imprinted in
the matter by the genius of the sculptor.
Indeed, the reproduction of living beings is infinitely none delicate
than the reproduction of an inanimate form, but the process follows a very
similar path, as we will see by another familiar example. Can the magnetic tape
of a tape recorder, it is possible to inscribe by minute alterations of local
magnetism, a series of signals corresponding, for example, to the execution of
a symphony. Such a tape, if introduced in the appropriate machine, will play
the symphony, although there are no musicians in the machine and even no notes
written can the tape. That's the way existence is played!
But, in this analogy, the magnetic tape is incredibly thin, for it is
reduced to the size of a DNA molecule the miniaturization of which is
bewildering. To dive an idea of this minuteness, we should remember that in
this thread every character of each of us is exactly described. Thou shalt have
blond hair, hazel eyes; thou shall be six feet tall, and thou shall live some
eighty years, if no road accidents intervene! All these instructions giving a
full description of a man, are written in a thread one yard long. But the
thread is so thin and so carefully packed inside the nucleus of the cell, that
it would stay at ease on the point of a needle.
I should probably give you an idea about the amount of information
that is written on that thread. Roughly speaking, we can say that it is around
10 to power of eleven number of informations. That is something which exceeds
enormously what you can feed actually on to the biggest computer now in
existence. I mean feeding, I do not mean having a delivery done there, but just
input in the machine, on the actual memory of the machine, the one which is
working. A very big computer, the biggest which we have now, is around a
thousand tines less powerful than the quantity of information included in the
thread of D.N.A.
But it would be also a little too simple to suppose that we can reduce
the information on the egg to the information on the tape. Because the egg is
by itself the whole tape recorder. The whale machinery is there, so that as
soon as the first trigger mechanism functions, the play goes on. And the human
symphony starts at its very beginning as soon as the mechanism is
To give another impression, if we were to reassemble on this table all
these threads which will specify each and every quality of the next five
billion people who will replace us on the surface of the planet, this quantity
of matter would just about fit in an aspirin tablet. The fertilized egg is
comparable to a tape recorder loaded. As soon as the mechanism is triggered,
the human work is lived, ire strict conformity to its program.
Q. Is it quite fair Professor, to ignore entirely the environmental
factors in a person's full growth and development?
A. It is fair if the environmental is not as high.
Q. But in a hostile environment what could be a factor?
A. Oh, if you put a man on the moon without his suit he will not
survive but that would not prove a man cannot live on the moon.
Q. You cannot ignore human development without having regard to the
environment in which it has been developed?
A. Oh yes.
Q. Are you using a figure of speech or are you being exact when you
say 'thou shalt be six feet tall'. I am interested seriously in whether this in
fact is determined right from the start?
A. I am quite serious and accurate in saying that in the sense that we
are told that the size of the body is genetically determined with due respect
to nature. The size of the population as you know has increased from generation
to generation since around a hundred years. And we know that part of it is due
to better nourishment of the babies; that's one thing. But the other thing in
that is genetics because the people have crossed, intermarried, so that some
genes which were making for smallness or tallness are now spread over the
population. The main result is statistically expected to be an increase of the
size which it is. We cannot read inside the first cell but if we could, if we
were precise enough we would really say he shall be six feet. Yes.
The very fact that we have to develop ourselves during nine months
inside the bodily protection of our mother does not change anything, as you can
easily observe by looking at the egg of a hen, from which the chicken will
emerge. It makes no difference whether he was incubated. by the fowl, or by an
electrical heating device! The chicken is still a chicken. If one day a child
can be entirely grown in a test tuba the test tube will never believe that the
child is its property!
Such a reduction of the human being to its very nature may not be very
palatable or intuitively satisfactory, but it accurately reflects the present
state of our scientific knowledge. When a new student hears for the first time
a symphony, let us say the Little Night Music by Mozart, he must listen to the
whole in order to know it. But if he is a music lover, he will recognize Mozart
at the first bars, and could tell the title at the second or third bar. It's
the same with the human symphony. The specialist can recognize it at its first
accents, even if a great number of various movements are required so that its
general form becomes evident to everyone.
The infinitesimal threads of the genetic information are carefully
called in little rods, the chromosomes, easily visible with an ordinary
microscope. They are something like the magnetic tape inside the cartridge of a
minicassette. Twenty years ago, one could not have told the cell of a man from
the cell of a chimpanzee. If he had been extremely clever he would have said
that probably it is an egg of a high organism, but I am even not sure of that.
And without any joke we would not have seen any difference between the
fertilized egg of a mouse and that of a whale. The eggs look just the same.
Around ten years ago we were able to count the chromosomes both in man and in
chimpanzee, and it turned out that man had 46 and the chimpanzee had 48. That
was not accepted very easily, because to be king of creation and to have two
chromosomes less .... ! Well, that's one of the examples of the humility of
science-humility imposed! But be sure we have corrected that now.
I will try to explain this very briefly, because it might be too long;
but maybe it will interest you. The precision of the analysis is now much
better than it was before. A chromosome around five years ago was seen as
something of which you could measure only the length and the position of the
point by which the two sister pieces are still held together. This point is the
point which allows the two chromosomes to separate and to migrate to the two
daughter cells. The new techniques which arose in 1970 make it possible now to
see a kind of picture inside the chromosome and recognize each piece of the 23
chromosomes of man and name them by their actual structure. That has entirely
changed our impression about genetics so that just now, if one of our students,
taking an advanced course of cyto-genetics, was not able to recognize and tell
apart a cell of a chimp from a cell of a man, he would fail in his examination.
It is so simple that he is not allowed to ignore that any longer. Indeed, three
years ago he would have been allowed to ignore everything of that, just because
we were ignoring it also. It shows just how relative is the knowledge of the
student compared to that of the teachers.
The interest we can find in these new techniques is that they change
entirely our view of species-prediction. And just from what we know from
primates, that is from the gorilla, from the chimpanzee, from the orangutan and
from man, we can safely say that the very ingenious simplification of
Neo-Darwinists is now dust good to put in the museum of the old news-that is,
the museum in which you put past discoveries which have no longer any
The Neo-Darwinist is now reaching the point of dignity in the history
of science that the Ptolemaic system in astronomy, the epicycle system, reached
long ago. We knew that it does not work.
And that is interesting. Because from the actual structure of the
chromosome we can demonstrate that the human species did not come from a
progressive humanization of a pre-human. We can be as sure that the gorilla
never came to be a gorilla by a progressive gorillization of a pre-gorilla.
Those things are not true. They are told in classic books, but they are not any
longer true. We know that to make a new species you need a very precise change
of the chromosomes which cannot occur in a general population progressively. It
has to happen on a very tiny root. It has to happen on a number of individuals
for the first time, extremely reduced, otherwise it cannot build a new species.
There is a very simple mathematics about that. The formula can be complex, but
the reasoning is very simple.
And that gives the notion that every new species is not at all the
progressive change of a race becoming more and more adapted to its ecological
medium. But it is a true new discovery suddenly occurring, with not at all this
progressive change supposed by Neo-Darwinism.
Now I will stop on that, because it would go too far. Just to make you
quiet about the fact that we have two chromosomes less than the chimp. I don't
want to leave you with that bad impression. Just to make very short a very long
story, we know now, thanks to the work of one of my assistants, that the
chimpanzee has two chromosomes more than we have because they have two
chromosomes which are separated, and in man we have a big chromosome which is
made by the sum, the joining of the two chromosomes of the chimp. That was a
very comforting discovery, and now we are, at least as far as the quantity of
the genetic information is concerned, equal with chimpanzees.
There is something more important about that, which is that this link
between two chromosomes head to head was im possible. And it is written in all
the textbooks, and I have taught that far ten years, that this kind of change
was impossiblefor very complex reasons which I will not go into. But we know
that the reading of the message starts from one point to go to the end of the
chromosome. Now what happens if you join them together is that the two
fragments are now not read in man in the same sense they were read in the
chimpanzee. The corresponding sequences are now read backwards. That is very
interesting because we know from other evidence that the number of genes and
the number of genetic differences between man and chimpanzees are exceedingly
small. If you count the proteins that we know-we know more than 10,000 of
ammo-acids and proteins, and chimpanzee and man are similar for more than 99
per cent of the formulas of those proteins. And if you look at the D.N.A., at
the genetic vehicle, it is the same. We are similar for more than 99 per cent
of the genetic information.
Then obviously the rational progression which is thus playing on this
basic genetic information cannot express anything. But if we look at the
chromosomes, the fact of reading one sentence forward or backward changes
immediately the whole signification of the sentence; and very likely one of the
segments which is actually in the chimpanzee is just a preposterous sentence,
but if you read it in the human way then you get signification. And if we are,
and everybody believes we are, an accretion of matter-our body is made up of
matter-and if it is nevertheless our body, it is just because the information
which has moulded the matter was a human information. Otherwise we would be
flies or chimpanzees.
But when we speak about human nature we see another fact, which is
that the chromosomes, as precisely as we can look at them, are the same in
every human species. That is, it doesn't matter what is the colour of the skin,
the colour of the eyes, the size of the body, the form of the face, all human
beings have the same chromosomes. And this is a very interesting consideration.
Indeed, it is a necessity, if we think about the way species are made by
chromosomal change; so all the people belonging to the same species must have
the same chromosomes. But that is not accepted generally, it seems; it is a
statement which is riot yet in the books.
But it gives another nation, which is that if all human beings have
the same chromosomes all around the earth, there must be a reason for that. And
the reason obviously is that they have the same ancestor. Now if we look back
at the origin of the species by changing the way of reading the same general
message of life, then obviously the beginning was on a very tiny stem. And if
we work out all the equations, it comes out that to build a new species,
chromosome Y needs to start with the smallest number of reproducers, as I told
you before. And so it is that the idea of a unique couple does belong to the
ensemble of possible solutions.
In fact, curiously, when you want to build a new species, you go
deeper than that. And all the new species which have been manufactured by
man-they were only in plants-have been manufactured, not only with one couple,
but with one individual. The trick is that in some plants you can manufacture
the change in the chromosomes-I will not go deeply into technicalities-and you
can make them doubled so that they can again fit together. But in plants you
can get from the same plant both male and female gametes, so that you can
reproduce that new individual and build a species if you have got the right
chromosomal shape. And this is what happens. Hence you have to know, as
something which is just very simple, precise and well-known, that the only way
to build a new species is to start either with one individual if it is a plant,
or with one couple if it is an animal.
But can we say that the early human being is an individual just after
fecundation ? Does he have the two qualities of an individual: its unity and
its uniqueness? Exceptions to unity are known: maybe once in every million
births, some subjects carry, side by side, male cells ( recognized by their X
and Y chromosomes) and female cells ( recognized by their two X chromosomes).
Thus, these subjects are simultaneously provided with the masculine attributes
of Hermes and those feminine of Aphrodite, hence the name hermaphroditism. One
would believe that two fertilized eggs, one bound to be a boy, and the other
bound to be a gird, have united together intimately, and it is quite the case.
In the hermaphrodite, the mistake is extremely precocious, and seems to happen
at the second division of maturation of the egg. Two reciprocal cells are
produced, the ovum and its polar body, which would be here just as voluminous
as the ovum. Both of them are simultaneously fertilized, each one by a
different spermatozoa. Hence exceptions to unity can happen very rarely at the
time of fecundation.
The other exception we have to this structure of the individual is its
uniqueness. That there are two persons exactly alike. Normally not. And we can
demonstrate also by simple arithmetic that no human being actually living has a
genetic makeup which has ever occurred before yr which has any chance to occur
later. That's true. But there is an exception to that-this is identical twins
of the same sex. They have the same genetic makeup and apparently the whole
genetic message is the same in both of them. Nevertheless, they are obviously
different human beings.
And people argue that on one egg possibly you cannot tell that there
is one human being here because eventually it will become twins, or triplets,
or quadruplets. And then you cannot say that this was a human being at the
beginning, because at the end you have two of them.
Then we need to to know at what moment one egg can give two persons.
Or more precisely, at what moment one nature can be split into two persons, or
into three. Well, that moment is not known. But we know that after the neural
crest has appeared, it is impossible to split it into two persons. It doesn't
work. We know that probably at seven days, at the moment of implantation, the
first delineation of this crest is not yet there, but the determinant is
already triggered so that also at that moment no splitting into two eggs
probably is possible.
These remarks on the exception of the individual 'one and unique'
corroborate the notion that every man begins at his very beginning. These
theoretical and experimental notions can sometimes be directly felt by the
persons themselves in exceptional situations. A very rare accident can occur at
the moment the identical twins are formed. From an XY fertilized egg, bound to
be a boy, two cells are produced: one XY will continue its masculine destiny,
the other having received only the X chromosome (the Y being last during the
separation process) will develop itself as an imperfect girl. Two X chromosomes
are required for a complete and harmonious feminity. Hence the identical twins
will be different: one nor mal boy and one frail and sterile girl.
In the first case we observed of such a young girl, she was some 18
years old and complained of a strange trouble. She feared to look at herself in
a mirror because she pretended she was seeing her brother. Such an impression,
far from anomalous, was an extraordinary intuition, very feminine indeed, of a
very complex situation entirely undetected at that time. At the exception of
the lost Y chromosome, she was effectively a piece of her brother and from whom
she was issued.
These facts of human genetics can appear a little too theoretical, and
the question must be asked whether common sense can recognize as such a tiny
human being. If very early, only the scientist aided by refined techniques, can
tell. If, let us say, at two months everybody knows, and has known for
thousands of years.
At two months of age, the human being is less than one thumb's length
from the head to the rump. He would fit neatly into a nutshell, but everything
is there-hands, feet, head, organs, brain-all are in place. If you look very
closely, you would see the palm creases, and if you were a fortune teller, you
could read the good adventure of that person. Looking still closer with a
microscope, you could detect the finger prints like Sherlock Holmes-every part
is available to give him his national identity card!
The incredible Tom Thumb really does exist. Not the one of the fairy
tale, but the one each of us has been. For it is from this true story that
fairy tales were invented. If Tom Thumb's adventures have always enchanted the
children, if they can still evoke emotion in grownups, it is because all the
children of the world, all the grownups they have turned into, were one day a
Tom Thumb in their mother's womb.
But can we scientists accept these fairy tales? The truth is indeed
that Mature itself does. For instance, abortion is a normal process in
imperfect mammals called marsupials. They have a special pouch on the abdomen,
conveniently accommodated to nurture the little. In the giant kangaroo, the
abortion occurs at the same stake as the little Tom Thumb in man, and is
roughly the same size. The aborted foetus then climbs into the fur of its
mother to reach the pouch. The bewildering fact is that the kangaroo mother
will let him do so, although she would not allow any other kind of animal to
drop in! If the poor brain of a female kangaroo can recognise the tiny creature
as a kangaroo being, there is no wonder that geneticists can safely assure you
that Tom Thumb is indeed a true human being.
Now the question can be raised whether a developing human being should
be protected even if he is affected by a disease.
To take a clear cut example let us study the case of mongolism. By
puncture of the amniotic cavity in which the foetus is swimming, only cells can
be taken so that chromosomal examination could be performed. If the extra
chromosome is found, surely enough the child is affected by mongolism. Hence it
has been proposed to eliminate him.
To be precise, such investigation can be made after the sixteenth week
of pregnancy and the foetus aborted for such reason. In the United States, for
example, foetuses aborted for that reason have been aged from eighteen to
twenty-four weeks or sometimes up to thirty weeks.
But it should be kept in mind that looking at the chromosomes of a
mongoloid foetus gives us two certainties: one, he is affected by the disease
for he has an extra chromosome and two, he is a human being as all the rest of
his chromosomes demonstrate.
Hence the case is not to decide whether to eliminate a disease, but
whether we eliminate a human being affected by the disease.
There is no difference whether the mental retardation is caused by a
chromosomal accident, a virus infection, or a road accident.
We do our best to keep alive, assist and if possible cure patients
suffering from the sequellae of a traffic accident including the sequellae of
brain damage. We have to remember that the road of life is long and dangerous
and from its beginning to its old age end in every case the duty of medicine is
to strive towards healing and not towards killing.
From molecular genetics to comparative reproduction, nature has taught
us that from its very beginning the 'thing' we started with is a member of our
kin. Being its own, human by its nature, never a tumor, never an amoeba, fish
or quadruped, it is the same human being from fecundation to death. He will
develop himself if the surrounding wand is not too hostile. And the sole role
of medicine is to protect the individual from accidents as much as possible
during the long and dangerous road of life.
Q. From your evidence could we conclude that it is a scientific fact
that individual life starts from the first moment of conception?
A. That's a very food question sir, and my answer is yes. And the
reason is, if I do not say yes, I could not teach genetics. This question is
never raised except when you want to discard an embryo. Never does an expert on
mice, cats or cattle ask himself at what moment does begin a mouse, or a cat or
a cattle. All of them know that they do begin at fecundation and they teach
that to their students. I dust rat that no people working with nice or with
cattle or with any living system will wander at what moment does occur the
beginning of the cat, the beginning of the fly. Everybody knows that it is at
fecundation. It is only when they question what kind of respect should they
have for that tiny new being that they discuss beginning, but scientifically
there are no discussions. The beginning is at the beginning. Nobody discusses
the mousification of a mouse.
Q. Now, from the first time of fertilization or fecundation, Professor
Lejeune, is it correct to say that the child is a human being and remains a
human wing right until his birth?
A. As far as I can understand the use of the English word, saying he
is a human being is a correct definition.
Q. So, there is no stage of pregnancy later than fecundation at which
he suddenly becomes a human being?
A. Oh, that is very obvious sir, because if you start with the egg of
a chimpanzee, if you don't look at the chromosomes, it is very much like, when
it divides, the medilla of a human being. But everyone knows that a human being
will never enlarge from a chimpanzee being. We are at the very beginning either
a chimp or a man and never can a chimp become a man or a man become a
Q. From the time of fecundation, is there any stage at which the new
human being, the new human life is a part of the mother?
A. I this not sir, because genetically it is distinct from the first
moment of fecundation because half of the patrimony is carried by the sperm,
that is the genes of the father, so the child has only one half in common with
his mother and the combination, the genetic combination, the genetic makeup of
the child is a new one which has never been produced in the history of
humanity. That can be calculated easily. Then it cannot be considered at any
time as a piece of the mother.
Q. So, from the moment of fecundation he is an entirely separate,
individual, human life?
A . I would not say, it is not entirely separated. It is an entirely
individual human life, which is momentarily included inside the body of the
mother. Not yet separated from the body of the mother, but I will make my
answer precise. It is so obvious it is not a piece of the mother that you can
do, not in man for the moment, but in cattle you can make artificial
fecundation and have the ovum separated from the body and the sperm separated
from the body, have it fecundated, look at it for a few days so that it divides
in a few cells, introduce it to a foster uterine mother and you get an entirely
normal cattle which has none of the genetic qualities of the mother because the
mother in that case is only a foster mother. Here we have the finite and
complete experimental proof of time, not in man, but in cattle, a big mammal,
that the entire process means a new life genetically entirely independent of
the mother who can be either the true biological mother as is the best case far
a human being, or eventually a foster uterine mother.
Q. So, putting the matter in simple terms, Professor, would it be
right to say that after fecundation the mother really provides the baby with a
home until birth?
A. I would say a little more than a home, sir, I would say that she
provides the hone and the nurture, and I hope also the love.
Q. Just coming to this question of nurture, Professor, would you
describe precisely how the mother nurtures the child while the child is in the
A. It's a very complex system but the first step is not in the hand of
the mother. It is in the hand of the tiny human being. At around five days
after fecundation, this microscopic human being, one millimeter in diameter,
sends a chemical message which forces the yellow corpus luteum inside the ovary
to produce certain hormones so that the menses of the mother will be
suppressed. It is in fact the baby which suppresses the menses of the mother
and who takes over, if I can say, and it does to her what it likes, and you
know it will do it again later. He is really capable of presiding giver his own
destiny. Now a little later he will bury himself inside the mucosa of the
uterus and develop a kind of apparatus that I cannot better describe as a
cosmonaut's suit which would make a little bulb which will have a little cord
which will go to the big machine and the big machine would be able to take
nutrients from the wall of the uterus through a social respiratory system. And
it is the foetus which built this extra thing, this extra surrounding of him.
this capsule, and the mother dust provides by her blood all the nutrients which
can go through the membranes so that the baby can be fed, but the whole
machinery, I would say the whale space capsule he has, is built by the
Q. So the foetus is very much in control of his environment?
A. Not entirely, but most of it.
Q. Does the foetus decide when he is going to be born?
A. As far as we know it seems so. Not in pathological cases, in which
the mother has some difficulty, so that the pregnancy could end earlier, but
during a normal pregnancy, it seems that the signal, the chemical signals of
termination of pregnancy and of going in labour and normal delivery is given by
Q. You mentioned that at a very early stage, the 'Tom Thumb' stage I
think you called it, the foetus is capable of movement. May I read you a
description written by a doctor of a six week foetus and ask for your comments
on that. The doctor who is writing this description describes how during an
operation on the mother, he was handed the baby, in the baby's amniotic sac and
the sac was intact, in one piece, and was transparent, he could see into it,
and the doctor's description is this:
'Within the sac was a tiny, one third inch human male, swimming
extremely vigorously in the amniotic fluid, while attached to the wall by the
umbilical cord. This tiny human was perfectly developed, with long tapering
fingers, feet and toes. The baby way extremely alive and swam about the sac
approximately one time per second with a natural swimmer's stroke.'
Does that, in your opinion, typify the sort of activity that a foetus
would engage in at that age?
A. I would guess so. It seems a relevant description.
Q. I think, Professor, in describing what has happened, you are
expressing something of the wonder and marvel of nature, and the fact that in
this one cell there is the potential to develop to the human beings that we see
in the community. Now the wonder of this process is true whether we are
describing humans, or animals or even perhaps vegetables, is that not so?
Q. Now, would you also agree that nature is very profuse in providing
countless millions of opportunities to produce that one unique cell and that
millions of this potential in fact never cone to a potential because millions
of eggs are never fertilized?
A. I would not agree entirely with that, sir. We are not dealing with
fishes. With fishes you can speak about millions. With humans you can speak
only about a few hundred and, for example, during her life a woman may release
one ovum every month and cannot make millions. It is a very different case from
Q. Now, have you ever heard it suggested that a human conceptus is
other than human?
Q. You see, you say that it is not a chick or it's not an amoeba, it's
not a tumour, it's not a fish or quadruped. I wondered whether somebody
suggested that it was?
A. Yes sir, it has been suggested. It was an old theory of Mr.
Haeckel, who was supposing that evolution was recorded more or less, inside the
embryonic development, and he was supposing that at the beginning the human egg
is an amoeba, and later the tiny embryo is a kind of fish, later a kind of
tadpole. The reason why I quoted that, sir, is that it is an old hypothesis
which is entirely ruled out by the facts.
Q. Would you know of any scientist who would, today, dispute what you
are saying in this regard?
A. No sir, I don't know.
Q. How long ago was it that that person put forward that
A. Around a hundred years ago, sir.
Q. You would have a number of professional colleagues who would not
call a conceptus a human being, would you not?
A. It is hard to tell. If I was speaking of the conceptus as a baby,
most of them would disagree, and I would myself disagree, but saying a human
being, I don't see anybody disagreeing on that.
Q. I am going to suggest to you professor, that no one would disagree
that the conceptus is human. There is no dispute on this at all, but there are
valid disputes or disagreements by intelligent and respected people in the
scientific world and the medical world who say it is human but we do not call
it a human being. Have you colleagues that would fall into such a group?
A. No sir, because I have seen yet nobody saying that a being is not a
Q. I haven't heard anyone say that either, Professor, but I am
suggesting to you that you nay well have colleagues who accept and it would be
foolish of course to deny, that the conceptus or the zygote or the embryo, they
accept that this is human, and that if left to develop it will become a human
being, but they do not call it a human being at that stage?
A. Oh, that can happen that some people do not call something the way
they should. That's very possible sir. I would not argue that.
Q. Yes. Hut you see, you are saying what they should do.
A. I am very simple minded, sir. I want to make clear that for me a
living system which is developing by its own virtues corresponds to the word
`being'. There is no other word. In French we would say en etre, it means the
same thing. Now, if that wing is human and if you and the person you are
quoting do agree on that, I cannot understand why they cannot agree that this
being, wing human, is a human being. I am sorry, but it seems to one to be just
a matter of knowing what we say. Now, if you want to tell me that some people
do refrain from using that definition, which is a scientific one, because of
the implication they see in those words, that may be done, but it's very far
away from scientific description.
Q. You have dust used the term that tie expression 'human being' is a
A. Yes sir.
Q. Do all scientists agree with you in that statement?
A. That a human being is a scientific description? Yes, sir.
Q. That the term `human being' is a scientific description of a
A. Yes, sir. Of a human conceptus.
Q. Yes, of a human conceptus. You say all scientists agree with you on
that, do they?
A. I would say that all of them would agree on the matter. Whether
they would pronounce the word as you said is another point. But on the matter
they would agree the thing is a heir, the thing is human. Sure.
Q. Do I understand you to say that scientifically, there is human life
at each stage before birth?
A. Oh, no doubt sir.
Q. I take it that you have read a great deal of the literature on the
topics about which you have given evidence, in French and in English?
Q. In any other language?
A. German, Italian, Spanish, Danish.
Q. Now, the thing, or the conceptus, at the first cell stage is not a
being in the same way as there is a being created subse-quently in the womb. I
suggest to you that when the cell divides it becomes a zygote?
A. It is a zygote as soon as it has become fecundated.
Q. If we just return to what I started to discuss with you, Professor,
that the zygote which commences as a fertilized own, goes through a process of
development and mul-tiplication of cells. Now you have said in your evil that
the creation of identical twins must occur before the thirteenth day. Can you
be certain as to at what stage between conception and the thirteenth day the
division takes place?
A. I am sorry, sir, but nobody is certain about that, and the only
data we have comes from animals. If I can quote animals, I can answer you.
Q. Please do that.
A. Not in man. In man we have no data. In animals there is only one
series of animals in which we know at what moment the number of twins is
determined. It is in the armadillo. The armadillo looks something like a
rabbit, with the shell of a tor-toise. Those animals have different races, and
in some races the eggs do split every tine into four embryos, identical
embryos. But for each of those races, it is always the same number of embryos
which is produced. So we know that looking at an armadillo and looking at the
race it does belong to, how many twins are genetically imprinted in the first
cell. In that case we know the determination of the number of twins has
occurred at the very moment of fecundation. Now in humans we do not know if the
mechanics of the splitting in twins is under the same determination that it is
in the armadillo, that is lack of knowledge. I don't know sir.
Q. Is it then possible that this division could take place at any time
between conception and several days?
A. I put in my reference thirteen days, it has to be comprehended at
the outer limit we are sure of. Now, if we try to go closer, it seems that the
first delineation of the neural crest is already inborn, if I can say between
five and seven days after the moment of fecundation, and that would mean that
no separation of twins would occur later than the fifth or the seventh days.
But it is very likely that this limit is again a far, rather far from the real
time at which it occurs. So obviously we know with no precision, but with great
indication and comparison with the armadillo that the determination of twins is
much earlier than we could say previously.
Q. It would be completely true to say of either of an identical twin
that that life began at conception. That would be a completely true statement,
would it not, even if it acquired its identity at a later time?
A. The question sir, of the biological identity of twins, as you know,
is a very disputable thing because, for example, in a Court if you were looking
at their blood groups you could not tell there apart, and the finest genetic
minutiae are so similar that on, let's say, recognition pattern, it would be
very difficult to say that they are two persons. It's obvious they are. That
would mean that probably this inborn twinness, if I can say, and similarity are
the same phenomena.
Q. Could I ask you, Professor, then having established that we have
twins, would you say that at the time of conception there are one or two human
beings in a... ?
A. It's a thing I do not know. I think we could answer you maybe in
ten years front now, with increased knowledge. For the moment I really cannot
give you that answer. If it was a tatou. I would give it right away, on a man I
Q. If I can take one of these now while it occurs to me, Professor.
Professor Veale will describe the contents of a hen egg as a `chick embryo'.
Would you dispute that description of the contents of a fertilised hen egg?
A. Yes, I would accept it as a chick embryo, and if you were asking me
for more precision I would tell you that it is a chicken being.
Q. Now whether you describe it as a chick embryo or a chicken being,
you are in fact describing the same thing, are you not?
A. No sir. While I am speaking about a chicken embryo, I am speaking
of a being who has a given age. When I am speaking about a chicken being it can
have any age. It can be very old. It can be not puber. It can be a tidy chicken
or it can be inside the egg. It is not the same thing. In humans I would say a
human being for a school boy and for a grown up. But if you ask me whether I
suppose a grown up is the same thing as a school boy I would say no. But I
would say both of them are human beings.
Q. Professor, would you care to give us your definition first of
conceptus. We talked this morning about conceptus, about foetus, about
A. What we call a conceptus, broadly speaking, is the result of
fecundation, so that all necessary information and all sufficient information
is gathered, so that this being can be defined as belonging to such or such
kind and being a full member of it, genetically speaking.
Now, when we speak about embryo, it's a little later. It's a matter of
age. It has aged and developed itself into the special form we call embryo.
When he is a little more grown, after two months, we call hire a foetus and
when he is just born we call him a newborn. When he goes to school we call him
a school boy and so on. Those are stages of development of a certain
Q. You have said a foetus at the age of two months.
A. Well, generally speaking. I am not sure of the English literature.
In the French literature, the word 'foetus' is used after the eighth week, and
the beginning of the ninth week. Between conception and the stage of calling it
a foetus we call it an embryo.
Q. The one question which falls into this section I suppose is the
definition of a human being and I am not sure whether we have a simple, precise
definition of a human being as Professor Lejeune would define a human being.
Would you give us a definition of a human being?
A. A human being is a member of our species.
Q. And you would not want to define it any more than that?
A. I am a biologist sir. If I was asked about mother species I would
give the same answer. Changing the species, indeed.
Q. Professor, before the adjournment we were starting a discussion
about a zygote and I think we have established that you would call the
conceptus or the single cell formed on fecundation a human being. Accepting
your definition for the moment I suggest to you that the conceptus is more than
a human being?
A. No. It is a given age of a human being.
Q. I suggest to you that the conceptus yr the zygote divides and part
of it becomes a placenta, part of it becomes an umbilical cord and part becomes
A. That is correct.
Q. Would you call the placenta a human being?
A. I would call it a part of a human being, one of the things a human
being is able to make. Exactly as I would call a nail part of a human being and
not a human being itself.
Q. Is the placenta part of the human being which is the embryo or part
of the human being which is the mother?
A. The placenta is made by the embryo as you know so it cannot be part
of the mother.
Q. The placenta is part of the human being that is the embryo?
A. That is one of the parts of the human being like your hair or part
of your being, but you cannot be reduced to your hair.
Q. So if you were to describe the human being while it is a foetus you
might have to call it the embryo plus the umbilical cord plus the placenta and
that constitutes a human being?
A. No, that is.. let me think about it. Your question is a little
complicated for one... I would consider that the human being is the foetus and
that the surroundings he has produced are part of him. Yes, I would say, I do
not know the ward, a `disposable' part.
Q. I think you have suggested that spontaneous abortions, most of
which occur very early without the woman even realizing she had conceived,
occur in up to one third of the number of pregnancies?
A. This is a general estimate. I would not be very precise because
statistics are not good but it can be considered to be a general estimate,
Q. I want the Professor now to turn to some of his evidence relating
to the chromosomal deficiencies, and I understand from your evidence that you
have spent a lot of time working with the Mongol child. You say in your
evidence that you can make the test at sixteen weeks ?
A. At fifteen weeks.
Q. You say 'made after the sixteenth week of pregnancy'. Now,
Professor Veale will say that it can be made after the fourteenth week. Would
you want to argue abut that?
A. I won't argue sir because I am not doing myself this amniotic
puncture, so I have no personal feeling. What I can say to the members of the
Commission that on the written papers on these topics, most of the authors
agree that, after sixteen weeks the risk for amniotic puncture being
deleterious for the woman or for the baby is much less than it is in the
fourteenth week, because the placenta can be hurt with the needle so that it
could be bleeding, and it is better to wait until the sixteenth week, so that
with sonar impulsions the position of the placenta could be correctly found.
And the single reason why most of the authors do wait until after the sixteenth
week is that the sire of the amniotic fluid is not very big at fourteen weeks
and most of the cases which hove been tried at that date were repeated later
because of failure. And then I was reporting a number which is, let's say,
accepted in the literature but which is not very relevant to the debate.
Q. Professor, what is the purpose of making this amniotic
A. There are two possible purposes. If it is late in the pregnancy, it
can be done to know how the foetus is really, and in some cases deduction for
therapy can be made, so that the foetus could be treated. In those cases the
puncture is made late in the pregnancy, around the seventh month. When it is
made very early, the only purpose actually proposed by the persons who do that
research is, if the foetus has some abnormality, we would discard it. The
actual purpose is diagnosis, if possible, and if the foetus is recognised to be
affected by a given disease, then the foetus is discarded. That is the general
purpose of that practice, sir.
Q. Are foetuses discarded at the University where you work?
A. No sir.
Q. Well, then is there any purpose for doing this test, as far as you
are concerned, if you are not going to discard the affected foetus?
A. I take it if you are not going to do something against the foetus,
the interest could be to give a comfort to a mother who would be very upset
about a given danger to a foetus and that could be considered as a comforting
answer, and I think some cases are done for that purpose. But taking account of
the tiny risk of induced miscarriage involuntarily by this practice then it
seems for only psychological reasons the indication is not really
Q. Professor Veale will give evidence that he can only support this
test at this stage of the pregnancy if there is an intention to discard the
A. I suppose he will give that and be in agreement with most of the
people who do that thing, in view of eliminating the foetus.
Q. To do it just to inform the mother twenty weeks before birth that
she has a defective child is hardly a compassionate activity is it?
A. Oh, that's not that, sir, because in most of the cases the child is
normal and you should look at it the other way round. That if the mother is
fearing something, you reassure her that the foetus is normal in most of the
cases. But I agree entirely that the psychological indication is not to be
taken very frequently.
Q. Is this defect likely to occur in cases of women over a particular
A. While the risk of chromosomal disease, especially for trisomy 21,
is increased with the aging of the mother, that is, it is increasing
exponentially with the aging, to give an idea, the risk, at the best age for
reproduction which is roughly 25, between 23 and 26, the risk is one in 2000
and at the reproductive time around 45 years old the risk would go up to one%,
maybe 2%. Curiously enough, we have demonstrated very recently and this has
been published that the risk was also higher on the very young group as well,
which gives the impression that the mechanism of our hormones and chromosomal
mechanics has to be perfectly run, if I can say, so that the risk is lower, is
as low as possible.
Q. what view would you Like of a gynecologist's requirement that a
woman over 35 had to undergo the test, and he would only treat her if she
agreed to have the foetus aborted if the defect was there?
A. I think it would make a statistical mistake, sir, because the risk
of the amniotic puncture by itself, the risk of the embryo, of the foetus
getting dead because of involuntary miscarriage produced by the procedure is of
the order of one%, that is the risk of the procedure is statistically higher by
itself than the risk of the disease you are looking for. On purely statistical
grounds it would be unwarranted to say it has to be done otherwise the person
would not be taken care of.
Q. Moving on now, in the hospital in which you are in charge of the
department, I take it that some of the children at least under your control,
are suffering from Mongolism or Down's Syndrome?
Q. Can you tell us anything about the attitude, the happiness, or the
quality of life of the children themselves?
A. If they are kept in their family and if they are loved by their
parents, I would say they are surely among the happiest people in the world.
They do not worry about anything. They are very easy going, and as far as the
child is concerned, I would say he is very happy. There is no doubt about that
in most cases, if he is not rejected, but that is the same for any person. If
one of us is rejected, it would be very unhappy. But, I do not speak about the
happiness of the parents. The parents do suffer from the child being unwell.
That is evident.
Q. Now, Professor, if a mongol child is born, what is the life
expectancy of the mongol child?
A. It depends upon different things. Some of the trisomy 21 children
have some complication that is a malformation in side the body, heart disease
sometimes, and sometimes difficulty with the bowel which can be blocked
somewhere. In those cases the life expectancy, if no surgery is performed, can
be extremely low. In most eases at birth a trisomy 21 child, a mongol, child,
will have a life expectancy rather long, and would live statistically speaking,
the expectancy of life would be around 45 to 50 years. That is a little less
than a perfectly healthy person, but rather long.
Q. Professor, I think this may be an area where the evidence Professor
Veale gives may differ from what you have given. According to my instructions
re a mongol child, that fifty percent of children born defective die within the
first year. Could you accept that figure?
A. No sir. It was said previously but it is not what is happening in
France, and I guess also in this country. That was in the old statistics,
that's right. Not now. Medicine has made progress.
Q. If this were in fact correct, this wouldn't support you in a
decision to terminate a pregnancy rather than have a mongol child for one
A. Oh, let me understand your question. If it was true that a mongol
child would die with -a fifty percent chance in the first year. well the answer
is, first it's not true, and secondly, if it was, I would not kill the baby
because, if a baby is running a risk I would at least give him the chance that
nature has given him, and if he has one chance in two to survive, I don't see
why I should suppress that chance for him.
Q. So you are looking at this solely from the point of view of the
A. In the case of killing. Yes, sir.
Q. Thank you.
A. Because it is the baby who could be killed.
Q. I think the other evidence that will be given, if I have my facts
correct, is that the life expectancy overall of mongol children is about 21
years, and you've given a figure of 40 to 50 years?
A. Yes. They were old tables, sir, you have to notice that and not to
be surprised at some discrepancies between statistics. It depends at what
moment they were gathered.
Q. What is the chance of survival in the first year for the mongoloid
A. I think it would around 75%. Something of that magnitude for the
last ten years. It is probably a little better now. In matters of statistics
you have to have enough time elapse so chat you can get the data. you get the
result of any progress of treatment of the children from your experience with
the actually born chili. It is the same with insurance companies, they are
finding the same difficulty.
Q. Is it your opinion that the chance of survival in such a situation
would now be at least 75%?
A. Oh yes, I would guess so.
Q. Are you able to help us with any research that has been done for
A. That is very difficult. The only data we have are our oven data but
you note the recording of the disease is not complete in any country and the
only thing; I can say, the survival of those eve continue to follow. I cannot
say that it is entirely representative of the population. Maybe many of them we
don't see, it is because they have problem at all. I do not know of any very
good statistics but one you can find in Denmark by - spelled in English -
Q. Professor, are you able to say what proportion of mongol children
are able to live with their parents, and what proportion, for one reason or
another, have to be institutionalised?
A . I would say in France 98 percent around. More than 90. Around 90
let us say, to get a round number, are living with their families. I suppose
that in this country the frequency of institutionalised children is much
higher, but I would consider it as a social fact, not as a medical,
pathological fact. It's a way of living, it's not related immediately to
Q. I anticipate that your experience with the parents of mongol
children is that they are very fond of those children and as fond of them as of
any other child they have?
A. Yes, very fond of them. And the children deserve that.
Q. Would you know of any parent mho would willingly choose to have a
mongol child rather than a normal child?
A. I don't think sir, that I have any parents telling me that they
would rather have an affected child than a non-affected child. No, I don't
think so. I think all the parents wish their children to be healthy.
Q. Yes, and I take it that your own researches are directed towards
the curing of abnormalities?
Q. Do you find that the having of a mongol child causes strains that
are usually greater than are to be found with having a normal child?
A. No doubt.
Q. Can you understand and accept, the intuition, the desire or the
concern of a pregnant woman not to have a mongol child?
A. Oh, I would consider the contrary to be pathologic, sir. As I told
you previously, no pregnant woman wants her baby to be abnormal.
Q. Can you accept the bona fides. the genuineness of the mother, who
finding herself pregnant with a defective child elects to have it terminated,
A. You said the bona fides, sir. And I would believe that buns fides
but I would not believe that bona fides allows somebody to kill somebody
Q. But accepting that that is your starting point, you wouldn't
suggest that the woman who decides to terminate is any less genuine, any less
maternal, and less respectable or moral because she decides to terminate?
A. I am not a moralist, but there is one word I would not accept. I
would say she is less maternal, because a mother does not kill babies.
Q. And would you apply that description to the woman who terminates a
pregnancy for any other reason, also, she is less maternal?
A. I would not say less. To be a mother is to have a child. If you
kill the child, you are not any longer a mother. There is no word in English
for a mother who has lost a child which is the equivalent of widow for a lost
husband, and there should be a word for the lass of a baby. We have a kind of
word in French which is brehaigne but that is what she is.
Q. Now what I'm really wanting to ask you from your experience, I take
it you have considerable clinical experience, from your clinical experience,
are you able to say that women who desire or who have terminated their
pregnancy are any less maternal in the way they regard their other children,
are any less moral in any other respect at all. Can you categorise women and
say the woman who has an abortion is different from the woman who will not have
A. You know, sir, I never categorise people, and I would say this
person has an abortion and that's it. I would not say anything more than that.
It is just a fact for me.
Q. But did you not say that she was less maternal?
A. Oh, for that particular pregnancy, there is no doubt, but not far
the other pregnancies.
Q. I see. I take it that you could not yourself be party to a
termination because you believe that it is the killing of a human being?
A. It is not I believe, sir. It is I am sure, and nobody discusses
that when you have a baby ,at around thirty, perhaps 25 weeks, at that sire if
you laid him without killing outside the womb, everybody looking at the fellow
would not ask himself has it begun to be a human being. Everybody would know
that it was a tiny human being dying on the operating table. That is not a
belief, sir it's an efficient knowledge.
Q. And you say that, because of the increased knowledge which you
have, and the accepted knowledge that enables you to describe the embryo, and I
take your definition of embryo as a human being, that this involves the killing
of a human being and because of that fact, you could not be party to it, is
A. Oh, that is right sir. I don't measure the humanness with
kilogrammes, with centimetres, but just as the fact they are a member of our
Q. Now do you accept that other people can genuinely say that they do
not regard the embryo as a human being?
A. Oh, sir, if they say that they do not, then probably they do not.
But it is not a reason for me to believe they are right.
Q. No, I am not asking you to believe that they are right. I am asking
you do you accept that they can reach this decision in good faith?
A. I don't know that, sir. Who can be inside the brain and inside the
heart of the people. We are speaking about scientific fact. It is easy that we
get clear with that. Now, if you ask me whether somebody, thinking in another
way than I, is bona fide, you are asking me to read in her heart and I
Q. So that you would not want to pass any judgment on a person who
says that in good faith they can terminate a pregnancy but why would also say
in goad faith that I could nest possibly kill another human being?
A. I would consider, sir, that they are making a scientific
Q. Are they making a moral mistake?
A. I have said scientific mistake.
Q. No, I am asking you, would you say they are making a moral
A. Now, If we are going to speak about moral, you would first tee a
whether it is moral to eliminate a member of our species, and en I would answer
Q. Professor. can you give the Commission any information about aged
ova, and what are the risks associated with aged ova?
A. It is a very interesting question. The aging of say cep does same
damage to the cell and we know that in the long run life is leading to death.
That's true also for individual cells and the life span of the matured ovum is
rather small. It is supposed on ordinary conditions to be of one day or two
days, something of that kid, maybe three under special conditions. And it seems
that the older the ovum is after it has been laid in the fallopian tube, the
grater is the risk that, after fecundation, or during the fecundation process,
or during the few first divisions, something wrong could happen. If I could
take a simple comparison which is not derogatory at all, it is a little like
with a car, that the more it has run the greater the risk you will get some
disturbance of the engine. And indeed, aging of the ovum can be in some cases a
risk for the progeny.
Q. What are the risks that the aged ova face?
A. Essentially, they are the risk of being sat fertile at all aid then
there would be no fecundation, or that some possibility of chromosomal mistakes
or some other unknown difficulties in the develoment of the tiny human being,
Q. Would you be able to say from your own knowledge whether the
practice of a rhythm method of contraception increases the rite of the
fertilization of aged ova?
A. That is unknown, sir, but we have looked at that and we have
deliberately tried to obtain that knowledge. We have looked at it. Many
outcomes of pregnancies after rhythm method let us say, in those cases very
likely the fecundation was rather late in the cycle. The outcome was very
important in the sense that we wanted to know if the number of chromosomal
mistakes among the children was increased. And we took as a yardstick the
frequency of Trisomy and we did not find any difference with the general
Q. About the problem of aging of the ovum and sperm and its effect an
the genetic pattern. In part of the reading that we have been given, Peel and
Potts I think talking of contraceptive practice suggest that the incidence of
anencephaly and spina bifida is stated to be higher in the Catholic population
and it suggests that this is due to the deteriorates of the sperm and the aging
ovum causing a breakdown presumably in the genetic pattern. Would your work
lead you to accept this as a reasonable statement?
A. No sir because the data are net good enough so that we can draw any
statistical implication. I speak about those data you are quoting. Because you
have to think about the age of the mother and in a population which has more
children than another one, then by the very evidence statistically speaking the
age of the mother is higher than the population with leas children because
after each child, the mother gets older, this is evident. And then you have to
correct the data for both the birth rank and the size of the family which takes
an enormous amount of data and I don't think that the data you are quoting are
more than rough data but they cannot be taken as a demonstration. As I told you
we have looked at that in our smaller sample and not found an increase of
chromosomal disease. Now this question is very difficult and I would like to
paint out how dangerous it is to judge a technique on a given report. For
example, we have statistical indication that the use of the pill is correlated
slightly with chromosome defects, then I would never say that in the sense that
it can be a very spurious effect and we have published data saying that them
were spurious effect and we were not at all saying that thin correlation was
meaning that the pill was producing a missegregation of the chromosome.
Investigation in human beings is so difficult if you want to be scientific. For
the moment I would say and I will make that as a declaration, we have no proof
whatsoever of any value that one manner of planning births gives better results
than any ether one as far as the outcome of the wanted or unwanted children are
concerned. We have no scientific data relevant to this very important
Q. I am not sure whether it was in your evidence or resulting from an
answer to a question from Mr. Inglis, there seemed to come through a suggestion
that the foetus or unborn child had a choice, or was capable of making a
choice. Is that correct or not?
A. Choice, I don't know if I could use that word. Decision probably
Q. Was it a question relating to the date of its birth?
A. Yes. It is dated first to the maintenance of the pregnancy indeed,
by the tiny embryo of five days and by the date of delivery.
Q. So the first decision is?
A. That it is the embryo at five days which stops the menses of the
mother. The second one is to tell the mother that we go out now.
Q. The mother of course can be aided in helping the baby to make that
decision these days, as to whether it is to be born by induction? Can medical
science not now govern that decision or the moment of birth?
A. Oh yes. We can make delivery at the moment we think best, but
normally occurring delivery is easier both for the child and for the mother.
That should be changed only for medical reasons.
Q. What is fascinating me, is that there is a thought process involved
in this decision making, or is it part of a biological phase?
A. It is difficult to tell whether a foetus is able to think. Very
often I wonder whether a new born baby is thinking, and whether a child of one
year of age is really thinking in the sense of percepting this way of running
different pathways in his own brain which is the perception you have and I have
of our thinking process. It is a question which is too difficult for a medical
man. We just do not know.
Q. Do you consider it possible far anybody to have a genuine
scientific belief that they would not be taking a human life in case of
A. Scientifically, they are sure that they are taking a human
Q. The timetable put to you: I want to put a coupe of things to you.
Would you agree that the heart beats at 25 days.
A. Oh, I would say so, at 25 days.
Q. That an electrocardiogram can be recorded at 35 days?
A. that sounds correct.
Q. And that electro-encephalograph recordings can be made at 40
A. My best recollection was 45 days but.
Q. Do we know enough now about genetics to actually bring this into
practice so that young people planning to have a family or any people planning
to have a family at any age should in effect be screened genetically to say
whether or not there are defects which they would be better to avoid by
A. We can recognize a few diseases, we can detect in some cases that
some parents are at greater risk of transmitting the disease than others, but
beside those clearcut diseases which are fortunately very rare we are not in a
position to examine every couple and tell who has a risk. It would be just
telling them what the statistics say. We cannot make predictions for each
person. We are not at all at that stage. Not at all.
Q. I understand that one of the possibilities of conception is what is
called a hydatiforrne mole. Now I would like to read to you Professor, a short
statement made by one Noonan and I am quoting from Callahan's book sir, at page
381, Noonan contends 'that once conception has taken place there is a sharp
shift in probabilities, an immense jump in potentialities. At the point where
the conceived being has a better than even chance of developing, he is a man.'
Now the writer here goes on and says: 'The trouble is that this formulation
represents a stipulation about what should be counted as a man, thus begging
the question of whether a particular conceived being is, in fact, a man. That a
particular conceived being may have a better than even chance of developing
does not entail that it will so develop. Because of genetic tar other
abnormalities, a particular fertilized egg may be destined for spontaneous
abortion or to become a hydatiforme mole. The zygote can develop or fail to
develop in a number of directions. Under favourable circumstances it will
develop into a human being, but this is not biologically or statistically
inexorable. Would you agree with that statement?
A. Oh, no sir. Because it is related with a disease which is called
mole hydatiforme, and it is very true that in some cases after fecundation some
disease, we do not know really the mechanism of which, transforms the conceptus
into a mass of vesicles which can nowhere get any human form. That's very true.
It's very rare, but we have to know that this can occur on normal babies so
that only vesicles develop on the placenta. Then I would say that an early mole
is a process which can kill a human conceptus but not change the nature of the
tiny dead body. Now, when it was said in the paragraph you quoted that
sometimes it happens that the conceptus will not go to term even if
undisturbed, that's very true and it does represent maybe one third of all the
pregnancies. But I cannot agree that it has no statistical implication. It
means that any conceptus has at least two chances in three to survive, but then
I would precisely put the point that does not give us any reason to say that
the one which eventually would be naturally aborted was not a human being. It's
the same thing when you are in front of a corpse. It's not because it is dead
that you can say it was not a human being. That has no significance. And I
would say that really if abortion sometimes eliminates an already dead human
being, that can occur, but statistically speaking, that is not the prospect of
abortion, because if it was supposed that the baby would die by itself nobody
would take care about using any process to kill him. Then I think this kind of
argument, that a human being sometimes does die in utero is not relevant to the
discussion. It is not because sometimes when you are in the woods one of the
fellows there could be already dead that you have to try to shoot him.
Q. So you are quite prepared and would want to describe the conceptus
that is killed by the development into a hydatiforme mole or that is
spontaneously aborted, at whatever stage, you would still want to call that
conceptus a human being?
A. I would say it has been a human being, but not for long, early
killed, early dead.
Q. We have a situation where one twin is born and she or he will have
a cyst inside the body, and in this cyst there will be bits of hair and teeth,
parts of the other person that didn't quite come out properly. Now is that
correct, it is the result of improper monozygotic twinning?
A. Oh, that's not known for sure. No, because it is known to occur
later in life and you can see it on a young girl, for example, twelve years
old, and she will develop a cyst on the ovary and in that cyst you will find
teeth, hairs, nails, and it is the closest we know to parthenogenesis, in the
higher species in those cases in which one child is born where the formation
inside the body it can be just the same mechanism as this Parthogenesis that
eve know on the cyst on the ovary of the young girl. There is no evidence that
they are coming from imperfect twinning. It can be a different phenomenon.
Q. So, in order for this to happen some sort of fertilization needs
to have taken place?
A. No, not necessarily. On the cyst on the ovary of the girl, there is
no fecundation whatsoever. It one of the cells of the ovary which, by a reason
which we can't entirely understand is able to divide to make something which
can go very far on tissue differentiation but never on body organisation.
Q. We kown that the human germ cells are only half a human being.
A. They are not a human being at all.
Q. They only have half the number of chromosomes necessary to make up
a whole human being and yet what you were saying is that one human ova is
capable of manufacturing human protein and organizing them is some sort of
A. That's right. In some exceptional cases it does occur. Very likely
there is a change in vhat we call the myotic prediction which does not occur
and it is a curious thing.
Q. I world like to ask whether or not you feel sympathy with these
people. The case is of a married couple in England. Their first child died at
eighteen the of spina bifida and they were told that there would be a one in
twenty chance of it recurring. I quote here: 'Alison recalled that it broke our
hearts watching our first little boy die' and she goes to say that in fact she
was frigid, she couldn't bear her husband to touch her for quite a long time.
it really worried her. 'Alison shuddered every time I touched her' is what her
husband said. But they didn't want to be sterilised. Sterilisation was offered
to them but they thought it was too big a step to make at that time So they
went away for a long holiday, during which time Alison conceived and very
bravely decided that she would try again. I'll read to you `It was the worst
nine months of mfr life. I don't think an hour passed without my worrying
myself to the point of vomiting. I was very hysterical and cried at everything.
Poor Graham, I don't know how he put up with me'. She was afraid of having a
monstrous baby, and, as it turned out, her baby was perfect. Now, she was
probably one of those lucky people, but if for in-stance, a woman has been
afraid of that happening and had decided to have an abortion and had asked for
an abortion, would you condemn her?
A. I am not at all a judge. I cannot condemn anybody. I would say that
a normal baby has been suppressed, that is what I would say, in the case you
Q. Even if they had taken some sort of tests with amniocentesis and
discovered that this protein was lacking?
A. If the baby could have been demonstrated to be affected I will, all
the same, say let him stay, because we are there to heal, not to kill.
Q. What about in cases where the child dies and the mother has a
complete nervous collapse afterwards. This happens, and I know of a case where
a woman had her seventh child, and the seventh child was spina bifida. It died
after about a year. She had a complete nervous collapse. Can't we spare women
complete nervous collapses if we have the means of preventing then?
I think that your question is complicated because, let's sup-pose that
the child had died at one year of leukaemia. Probably the mother would have
suffered some breakdown, the same. It meant that there are very severe diseases
which can break the heart of the mother. What's very true, and we can and we
must do all that we can to help that suffering mother, but not by killing her
Q. In this particular instance, shy told one that the baby and spina
bifida babies do have very penetrating peculiar cries, that they were very high
pitched. Is this true?
A. Oh, that is generally true, but not especially for spina bifida. A
high pitched cry is very often found in many more different disturbances of the
baby. If he had, let us say, meningitis, he would have the same cry. If he had
a head in-jury, he would have the same cry, but it is entirely true that the
cry is high pitched. That is right.
Q. I see, so this would tend to increase the strain on her ner-vous
system if she had to listen to a high pitched cry, even for twelve months, and
presumably the affected child wakes more frequently, needs more attention, more
feeding, because they only take food in small amounts.
A. It differs very much in every case, we cannot generalise, but we
have to say that some diseases are terrible diseases and the parents suffer
very much. That's the plain truth.
Q. But would it be true to say that most severely han-dicapped
children are very awkward to mother. They are dif-ficult babies?
A. I would not say that as a general statement. It really depends on
what the disease is. We cannot generalise so easily. It is too complicated.
Our population in France is now diminishing. It began in 1975. Your
population in the United States is not yet diminishing, but it is very close,
also. What is diminishing in the United States is love for those why are
unhealthy, small, different from others, and eventually who will not be of any
in-terest in the mathematics of the economy of the United States.
It is very extraordinary, very surprising to me that dis-cussions
about knowing whether we should kill some children or not are held in this
country which is the richest of them all. Remember when the Down's syndrome
child died in Johns Hopkins, it died from starvation to death in one of the
biggest hospitals of the richest country of the world. Now I wonder really how
people can still discuss the fact that if you have another child, then other
children will starve in other countries, and don't realize that your own
children, if they are disabled, are left to starve to death deliberately.
I have been asked to speak about genetic manipulations, and genetic
engineering, things you are now reading about in the newspapers. People are
very interested in and are being frightened by the new discoveries of science
and the knowledge of how powerful science will be in the next years.
What you may have heard about manipulating the human patrimony, about
playing with embryos, about cloning, about changing the genes: about
manipulating the DNA of bacteria is still just a fairy tale. This may be used
to make you fear the future so you don't realize what the present is. It may
make you feel that in some years people will play with humanity so that you
forget that you are now playing with your own children already and killing
them. This is not accidental.
In France, many people have signed a petition relating to not playing
around with the genes of bacteria. You have heard about that, because there was
a big discussion about that. Many of these people who were saying in France
that for the sake of humanity, you should not play with bacteria, are the same
people, name by name, who have signed petitions for legalizing abortion. This
is not well known. The reason for signing is obviously that man is a kind of
moral animal. We have a need some way or another to prove that we have good
will, even if it is not true. Because they have signed a petition to prevent
the manipulation of bacteria because it could cause some danger some day for
some people, then they feel forgiven for what they have done now to children in
utero who are killed and to the newborn who are neglected because they are ill
and to old people who are pow about to-be-killed persons. The question at the
present time is not genetic manipulation. It may be in ten years. The question
now is whether there are still a handful of persons still ready to try to
protect the poor, the ones who are not powerful, not intelligent, not healthy,
not wealthy. These are all members of our kind, no matter how tiny or young
You know probably that the temptation of choosing the characteristics
of children to be born and improving the next generation is a very old one. You
probably remember that the old Egyptian Pharaohs frequently married their
sister or close cousin because it was believed that their blood was better than
other blood. They did not want to mix their blood with commoner blood. You may
remember that Plato in the Republic described his way to have good citizens. He
would only have allowed selected persons to reproduce. He would have selected
men and women with good manners, good intelligence, and good outlook so that
the children would be comparable to the parents and the race would improve. But
indeed the manner of achieving that goal is rather difficult and implementation
of your prediction of the characteristics of the child and enforcement by law
are quite difficult. We know of no civilization where it has ever
I will give you an idea of the difficulty of the matter, especially
relating to the distribution of the genes during the fabrication of the
reproductive cells. You know that our genetic constitution is divided by two
from 46 to 23 each time we produce the reproductive cells. This means that even
from two given parents, all the children except identical twins differ
genetically. Which genes are received from which parent is determined by a
chance system so that you cannot exactly predict the characteristics of the
next child from a given couple. You are never sure that a certain quality will
be propagated instead of other qualities.
To give you an example of the difficulty, I remind you of the story of
Bernard Shaw and Isadora Duncan. Bernard Shaw, an Irish Writer and Isadora
Duncan, a very pretty dancer, well known for her beauty, more so than for her
intelligence were both present at a dinner. She was so delighted at having been
close to Mr. Shaw that she said to him, 'Oh, maestro, we should together make a
baby and this baby would be a wonder of the world because it would have your
mind and my beauty.' And then Bernard Shaw thought about it a while and said,
'well, and what if it is the contrary?' And that shows, it is not that simple
to be sure that the qualities of the child you are holing for in the future
would be realized.
There is now a suggestion that geneticists will be able to control
modifications in genes. It has only been possible in the past to make mutations
by using radiation or very active chemicals so that random error will be
produced on the genetic message. We then select those random errors or
modifications which are superior. But most random errors are harmful. No one
error can be directed, that is we do not know what will be the next mutation.
It is exactly like a ran-dom bombing of a city with one bomb. You do not know
where the bomb will fall down if you cannot guide the bomb. This is the case
with X-rays, gamma rays, atomic radiations and free radicals. Since we cannot
guide the molecule or the particle, the effect is random.
The new idea is that instead of causing a random error in the genetic
message which is to be transmitted to the new life, we include a new segment of
the message in an already ex-isting living system. We then produce a new
genetic endowment in that living system. In bacteria it happens that bacteria
have in their cells the kind of enzymes which can split DNA in very specific
places. Let us say those enzymes allow you to cut pieces parallel at will on a
DNA string. Now when you have that piece, you can make on the DNA of the
bacteria a break which has exactly the same form of the end break. A break is
made in the host bacteria and you introduce in that break a gene from a
different brand of living thing in the host bacteria.
Surprisingly, this system is rather easy to manipulate. Most of the
time the fragments you have induced do not work at all and the manipulation
fails, but sometimes it works. Surprisingly enough, you do not need an enormous
installation for this type of manipulation. It can be done in any ordinary
laboratory if you just have the skill to do it. The skill required is not very
great. You just have to have those specific en-zymes which do the job. In fact,
you can buy those specific en-zymes on the market.
There has been a great fear, especially among the scientists playing
with bacteria, that by inducing new genes, you could induce new changes in
those bacteria which could be very harmful. This fear has arisen mare
specifically because the geneticists working with bacteria are frequently not
careful persons because they have previously been working with materials which
were not dangerous and did not require precautions.
When switching over to work with bacteria which could be dangerous,
they have not taken sufficient precautions and have not worked in a sterile
room. They have not sterilized everything. There has been the fear that some
day they would be manipulating by chance a new strain of dangerous bacteria
which they would transform into a highly disease causing strain. This disease
causing strain could then produce an epidemic.
It was on those grounds that the National Academy of Science in
America appointed a committee to discuss whether it should be forbidden to play
with bacteria. A year ago that committee issued a statement that a moratorium
should be placed an the research for a period of time so that it would be
forbidden for any one to manipulate bacteria by introducing new genes.
This is the first tine, as far as I know, in America or in Europe that
a scientific academy vetoed experiments which were not known to be dangerous
because the academy thought the experiments could be potentially dangerous if
I believe this decision of the National Academy of Science just as
ridiculous as the decision they took about 150 years ago at the first time the
sidewalks were considered being laid in New York. That same wise Academy at
that time decided that so many fractures of the ankle would be produced on
women when they were going up and down from those sidewalks that the sidewalks
should be forbidden. It is impossible and it is ridiculous to pretend to stop
Curiously, as I previously told you, many of the same individuals, at
least in the scientific community, who are very strongly against playing with
bacteria were just as strongly signing petitions advocating abortion at about
the ,me time or slightly earlier. I think they were catering to their own
conscience which was bothered by abortion, because everybody knows, even the
scientists, that in killing a baby, even a very early and very young one, one
is doing something which is at least distasteful and at least against the
biology of our species.
After a short time, the moratorium was cancelled. Nobody talks about
it now. They talk about the good regulation of the laboratories. This means
that they clean their hands now before going home and things like that and it's
very nice, but they should have done that long ago. They are no longer stopping
genetic manipulations. In this decision they are right because genetic
manipulations can in bacteria give us much information on the way genetic
machinery governs the whole chemical machine which is a living system.
On the other hand, though we cannot work out this techni-que today, if
we can in the future, we shall have some really excellent results. When we
learn to work out this technique, we can produce some strains of bacteria which
would be specialized into producing same very useful drugs. For ex-ample, if
you could take the gene of insulin in man, put it in a bacteria and force the
bacteria to grow correctly with that gene inside, this bacteria would produce
insulin, and a human insulin at a very low cost so that the treatment of
diabetes would be much easier. That would be the same for any of the diseases
in which some enzymes are lacking in a baby and the baby is defective because
one chemical step cannot work and we cannot extract from another human being
enough enzyme to help the baby. If we could take the gene from a normal cell,
put it in the bacteria and make the bacteria produce the en-zyme or other
material we would want, then we could make tons of insulin, penicillin, or
other useful drugs. We can-not synthesize many drugs, because it is too
complicated. But if we could use this machinery directed by the gene we put
into the bacteria, then we could have some very useful progress in medicine.
This is the basic reason why many of the human geneticists in France including
me, were just laughing about the moratorium on genetic research relating to
bacteria. We were sure that this was a useful field of research, if done with
This is not, unfortunately, the main topic that people are talking
about. Unfortunately, this is not the main area in which they are playing.
It is easier and unfortunately much more fashionable now to play with
the genes which are a very tiny fragment of DNA, a very small segment of this
long tape in which is taped the symphony of life which makes us be what we are.
It is much easier to play with the cell and more particularly with the
We know that we can for quite a while stop the biological clock of a
cell if we deep freeze that cell under special precautions. We put the cell at
the temperature of liquid nitrogen, very close to absolute zero. We can then
reduce the movement of the molecules inside the cell so that time essen-tially
stops for that cell. That cell remains essentially un-changed for an unknown
As an example, at the temperature of liquid nitrogen, sperm can be
kept for a long time. They lose part of their fertilization power every year,
but perhaps after ten years in the deep freeze they still retain, let us say,
50 percent of their efficiency. This has been very much used for artificial
insemination in sheep and in cattle. As you know some cattle in the United
States are fertilized by sperm coming from some races from old Europe because
the European cattle have good genes and they want to have those genes
introduced into the herds in America. So far, so good because it is cattle. You
can even make a bank of sperm so that you can use the sperm even when the giver
or donor is dead. That was especially useful for cattle because you could test
the quality of the children of the given bull. If the first few children were
good, then the sperm which had been stored would be used on a much bigger
scale. You would have to wait about four years to permit the children to get
pregnant to determine if the bull was good. You could then fecundate many cows
by that bull even if the bull had died in the meantime.
This prospect has very much interested some geneticists. One who was a
well known leftist decided that a good way of improving the human race was to
choose good reproducers. He wrote an article saying that normal people, if they
were really devoted to the future, would refrain from reproducing themselves.
They should not have their own children but they should go to the sperm bank
and have the woman inseminated by the sperm of a super young man, who is better
than her husband anyway, so that they could produce the best children they
could. He then gave some examples of the type of men whose sperm should be in
the sperm bank. Among the men whose sperm he would have taken were two famous
French scientists, and we felt that it was very kind of him to honor the French
people by selecting two Frenchmen among his group.
He also would have put in the refrigerator the sperm of Lenin and
Stalin. A few years later, about 1963, he gave another speech and in that
speech Stalin was no longer in the ref igerator because of the anti-Stalin
program of his successors in power in Russia.
This is not a joke because this mark while a communist, is a very
thoughtful and conscientious person. He had a prejudice, but he had chosen the
basic good with his oven pre judice. But the curious thing is that he was
obliged to change his own prejudice after awhile. This proves to me that we
could not choose the qualities for the nest generation unless we are not
prejudiced. Unfortunately, we are all prejudiced. The judge of the quality of
men would have to be an angel. There is a joke in France that when you play
angel, you play the beast. You cannot be either a beast or an angel because you
are a man. If you try to play beast or angel, you also play the other.
At the moment, banks of sperm are used essentially for sterility and
essentially where the man is sterile and his wife is not. She can get
insemination from a donor. This is a very tricky thing. Most of the people say
very good, but when you look at the problems of that couple in the long run, it
is not that good.
When a woman has received sperm of somebody she does not know, she
will never know the name or outlook of the donor. Unfortunately, she cannot
prevent herself from dreaming about this would-be husband that she has not
known who has produced that nice child she has in her arms. That very rapidly
hurts the solidity of the couple.
Contrary to what is said, that is very different from adoption. In
adoption both parents are genetic strangers to the child and the child is
accepted as a child by both the foster parents. But in the case of
insemination, the child is a true child of the mother, but not of the father.
It becomes a kind of frustration both for the mother and for the father that
only one of then has played a role in the formation of that child.
This is, I would say, a mild manipulation of human cells. If it was
the only game we could play, nobody would be very interested. And the idea of
that leftist that all women should go to a clinic to be inseminated by the
frozen sperm of given donors would never be very palatable for most of our
people because they are not yet that foolish. But there are other ways of
playing the game.
One of these ways of playing the game is the old dream of the choice
of sex. A lot of people would like to make at will a girl or a boy. You may
know that from antiquity, there have been many ways proposed and found to be
entirely unsuccessful at producing girl or boy babies. The old creeks believed
that the male sperm was made in the right testicle and the left one gave forth
the female sperm so that you had to have intercourse on one side or the other
so that you got the right sperm that you wanted. This did not work. There has
been much manipulation done any sperm, especially by veterinarians who try to
get sperm which reproduce cows. This is done because you do not need many males
to sustain the species, but you need a lot of cows to give milk. They have
tried to separate the sperm cells by electric current, by centrifuge, and
different means, and at this time none of these means works.
We do know that we can recognize the chromosome carried by a sperm. If
we take fluorescent dyes, we can recognize the X or the Y with a different
fluorescent dye. This leads us to suspect that there is good reason to believe
that some day or other the separation of the two kinds of sperm will be
possible. It does not seem entirely foolish to think about what might
It is still very far ahead, I do not know when, but let us suppose
that some day the discovery is made that you can separate male and female
carrier sperm and that at will any couple can choose the sex of the next baby.
Let us suppose that the machine is so simple that it can be done at very low
cost. Now what would happen? That is a very interesting question. We already
know the answer. Of Those people who would choose, a substantial majority would
want a boy. The situation would become important because the imbalance would
become so great that the government would be obliged to intervene. The
government might want to have a great number of males if it is a tyranny. They
might want a large army during the next generation. On the other hand, if they
are peaceful people, they might want to have some women so that there is not
too much fighting between their men. How would these governments act in order
to give their wish to the greatest number of couples and minimize the imbalance
in sexes. They might have computers working very fast to calculate the best
solution. I think we know now. It is very easy. It is just to give male or
female at random to a couple. That is the only solution which would not
prejudice some choice over other choices. So very likely the state would be
obliged to rule that the whole genetic manipulation way illegal so that people
would again unknowingly produce boys and girls in the same old fashion.
Manipulation could go farther than that and be used essentially on
eggs. The difficulty with the female sex is that only one egg, normally, is
released at each ovulation. If we have an ideal woman, and you wanted to have
many many thousands of babies out of her, you could use a cocktail of hormones
and make her ovulate about ten eggs each time. You could eventually, in an
appropriate solution, fecundate those ova and have in a few years a few hundred
or a few thousand fertilized zygotes from chosen men and this particular ideal
The problem now is that we cannot develop a baby in a bottle. Much has
been written about test tube babies and bottle babies. The bottle and the baby
still does not work. That could eventually be circumvented by using the wombs
of foster mothers. You would give the cocktail of hormones to the ideal woman
who would then produce a thousand or more ova which you would fecundate and
turn into your thousand ideal children. Fortunately, for the moment this does
An attempt to fecundate human ova has been made in England. I also
suppose that in America they are manufacturing tiny embryos, taking ova out of
the ovaries at the moment that the follicle maturates the ovary, they take out
the ovule and make the fecundation by adding some sperm in a test tube. They
can then look at the new cells of the embryo up to around the 32 cell stage. At
that moment they need to protect the embryo because it cannot survive in a
fluid medium. It has to be implanted in the uterine wall. They have died and
curiously for an unknown reason for the moment they have not been able to
succeed and they do not know why.
I say curiously because, for example, it can be done in mice. You take
the egg from one mouse and fertilize it and implant it in another mouse who
gives birth to perfectly healthy little mice not genetically related to the
mouse which was their foster mother. This has also been accomplished in larger
animals such as cattle.
This, for the first time, breaks the last link between the
generations. Up to now you were never entirely sure about the father, but you
were confident if you were looking at the delivery that this child coming out
was really carrying part of the genes of the mother. But now if there is a
foster mother, the woman might deliver a child which is not her child and which
you could not recognize by blood groups or anything of that kind to demonstrate
that he is the child of that mother. When this happens in humans, it will
definitely break the last genetic generation link.
This is psychologically very important. In our generation we are
building a psychology in our children which is very different from our own. If
you remember, at your youth, even if you are very young, even ten years ago,
none of us as far as I can see ever thought that eventually his mother would
have thought about killing him. I never thought about that myself from my
mother. I never had the idea that eventually she could have killed me. But now
with the abortion law there are normal children who are now a few years old and
when they become a teenager will think abut whether or not their mother wanted
an out to get rid of them when they were in the womb.
That is a very important fact psychologically. The mother has always
been in any civilization in history the security and the refuge no matter how
old you are. Even the young men came on the battlefield asking about their
mother. But now children will wonder if their mother had not killed them before
of her own choice of having a baby for herself, not for the sake of the baby,
for the sake of the child. This will break the psychological link between the
protective image of the mother and the child. Today's very young children will
know when they grew up that they did not rave any right other than what their
mother gave them. They will know that they might have been killed except that
it was the right time to have a baby that year and not the next year and not
the past year. We are building in the minds of the children who will be born a
new complex that they could have been killed. Now if we add to this the fact
that you can change the mother and use a foster one, that destroys some of the
important links between the generations.
This generation gap is widening every year. We are not at all bridging
it by science. Just now it is filled by the blood of children who are killed in
utero. This bridge, this gap between generations is perhaps the most important
psychological effect of this supposedly new law which is in fact a very
backward law from around 3.000 years ago.
This abortion law comes at the same time the scientists are playing
around with the cells of other species. It has been demonstrated that the gene
differences between the chimpanzees and man are very small indeed. If you count
the amino acids of proteins or if you count the sequence of the DNA phases, 99
percent of the message is the same and is common between man and chimpanzees.
That is, most of the vocabulary is similar.
In Paris we have demonstrated the basis of the difference between man
and chimp. The similarity of the DNA is overwhelming. The arrangement of the
chromosomes which are the carriers of the message of the DNA is such that in
fact it looks very much like changing the order of the words in a phrase.
That is a preposterous proposition. If you switch the position of the
words you can sometimes make something which makes sense and the reverse is
also true as everybody knows. Obviously what makes the difference between the
genetic message between man and big apes is not the genetic language we speak,
is not the genetic vocabulary we speak, but it is the style or syntax.
What makes man genetically is not the genetic writing which is the
same for all the big primates, but the style in which the words are used. If
you look at the monkey and the horse, their chromosomes show mare differences
between them than there are differences between chimp and man.
You can have hybrids. The mule which is rather good compared to a
horse and donkey, is an example. There is reason to believe that it may be
possible to develop in vitro some examples of counternature hybrids. As far as
I know, nobody has done it or published it.
The playing around with animals and men is on the verge of being
possible. It, will be a danger that those who despise the nature and quality of
man will play around with animals and men to try to make a mixture between the
This would be very different indeed from mixtures between cells. The
mixtures between cells in vitro which is a technique which is used to see what
chromosome is carrying what genes is a very different thing. The previously
discussed changes in bacteria are very different. These other changes do not
have the ethical implication which we are dealing with in this later case.
Manipulation of the embryo can be done because the embryo is very
resistant. You can freeze an embryo and you can defrost it and it will grow
again. You could eventually cut embryos into little parts and put them back
together and they will continue to develop in one lithe embryo. You could even
split embryos at a very early age, taking a few cells from one embryo and a few
cells from a different embryo to conglomerate them together and have one
individual coming from different embryos. This has been done in mice and the
result is a mouse which genetically has four fathers and four mothers. This is
certain because they took the embryos from different couples of mice, some of
them having yellow fur, some white, some dark and some grey, and the fur of
this tiny mouse is a transport or checkerboard of different colors. You can
tell that this part carne from this couple and that part came from that
Nobody now knows how this would work in man. If you did it, for
example, between a black noon and a white man, nobody knows if the results
would look like a normal hybrid between the two races, or whether it would look
like a checkerboard of white and dark spots like the mouse.
More precisely, nobody knows if you could take an embryo of a
mathematician and the embryo of a 100-yard runner and mix them together and get
a good running mathematician.
This manipulation of the embryo before implantation may be achieved in
man. In cattle it has been tried and failed. It has failed in woman. But
eventually it can be done. Then the whole range of playing around with the
human patrimony, will be upon us.
This will not be done by the system which would be so useful if done
on bacteria to help us bring new medication. That is a good area of research,
but playing with embryos is not. It is best to look at what kind of monster you
could produce if you do such a thing. It is unfortunate that such a thing will
be possible in a few years.
This will look like a kind of Frankenstein style of medicine and it
will, I am afraid, be rather popular. Just like the horror film except that on
television, the horror medicine will be accepted, I'm afraid, as a kind of
distraction to show how powerful we are. This will decrease again the respect
we have for a small ones, the young ones, the tiny ones, the unpowerful
Plant geneticists have discussed the cloning of man. Cloning is a very
simple trick. The difficulty of chasing the parents is that even if you take
one marvelous woman and one marvelous man, the children may not receive their
good qualities. Cloning overcomes this problem because it produces a
genetically perfect replica of the individual. You can genetically predict the
results you would have because the child you will form will be as close
genetically as an identical twin.
The technique used will be to choose an ovum, preferably an ovum which
has just been fertilized. With a tiny pippet you suck out the legitimate
nucleus which is inside that egg. And then with another pippet you pick the
nucleus of another cell from the body of another person whom you wart to
genetically duplicate. You take the nucleus from that person whom you want to
duplicate and insert that foreign nucleus in the place of the legitimate
nucleus which you have thrown away. You can eventually get a full grown
individual having all the genetic endowment which was in the grafted nucleus.
The new person will have nothing to do with the genetic or racial traits of the
father and mother who donated the sperm and ovum for that original fertilized
ovum which we chose as the host for our grafted nucleus.
Another example is to take the eggs from many women so that we have
millions of eggs. We could then take a million cells, that is not very much
compared to the many millions in the human body, from a person, and take the
nucleus out of each of those million cells. We would put each of those million
nuclei into a separate egg after removing the nucleus of that egg. We could
then produce a million individuals who when implanted in the wombs of a million
fester mothers would give a million examples of this very precise genetic
constitution of the donor.
What would happen if we made even a thousand clones of great men? Each
of these new individuals would he endowed with the same inheritance as their
ancestor. Each of then would be recognized immediately as having the talent of
their ancestor. Who would get all the positions in politics or science or
whatever field their ancestor came from? After a while they would produce a
little bit of work, but they would then, all being identical, entirely
sterilise the particular field to which they were put with a new conformism
because they were all of them of the same mind and the same makeup of the
That is only a mild example. Think abut any name in history and try to
suppose what would have happened if there had been a thousand similar people. I
can think of no one in recent history so great that we would have wanted a
thousand of him. Perhaps this is the reason nature was very wise in not going
much farther than twins or triplets and these very rare indeed. Perhaps it is
much better to make human beings one by one.
Most of this is not yet possible. The danger now is net that these
things will be done but that, they will be tried. Playing with human embryos
has failed. It has already been tried, however, and that has decreased the
respect we have fur our own unborn babies. Think also of the experiments on the
human fetus now routinely done in America and other countries. They are used to
try drugs. Think of the women, pregnant, who will get an abortion for any
reason. Some of them will receive money for taking drugs and then having the
abortion. The aborted fetus will then be cut open to see what effect the drug
These are a few of the foolish games we are playing with our own
children, with our own flesh. It is not just foolishness, it is very precise
calculation. The very sane experiments could be performed on a chimpanzee
fetus. They are not per-formed because the chimpanzee fetus costs a lot of
money. Human life used to be priceless, but now we have so many human fetuses
which are being aborted that they have no value. The cheapest thing now to
experiment with is a human baby at about one pound or less. They are the
cheapest thing you can experiment on because they are thrown away.
You must realize that this is done essentially for economic reasons.
It is very sad that the human brain does not cost anything today. The fetus of
a chimpanzee is still respected because it costs a lot. No law has been put in
by the courts to give the liberty to pregnant chimpanzees to get abortion on
demand. That has been refused on the authority of the veterinarians who know
that the fetus of a chimpanzee is indeed a chimpanzee.
We are now dealing with a new defamation of science. This is similar
to children playing and putting on a mask over their face and then looking at
each other and getting afraid. Some of todays scientists are twisting science
to give science a horrible aspect. The public is getting afraid about the next
discovery of science which will spoil more and more our already partially
But that is not the danger. Science is a tree which bears good and bad
fruit. Now we can select the fruit we wish. In America you still have a little
liberty to do that. Maybe in a few years you will not have it any longer. It is
time that you understand what is at stake is not just the life of the actual
baby but it is the life of the soul of our civilization.