Brain and Body

Bill Nye: Anti-Planned Parenthood Arguments are “Bad Science”

October 1, 2015 | Kelly Tatera

Bill Nye the Science Guy
Photo credit: Mark Schierbecker

“Can we stop telling women what to do with their bodies?” asks our favorite Science Guy.

After Planned Parenthood’s undercover videos were leaked this summer, the organization has been a topic of hot controversy concerning its handling of fetal tissues. Republican candidate Carly Fiorina put the organization on full blast during the GOP debate, claiming she saw videos of a fully formed fetus, “its heart beating, its legs kicking,” while someone says, “We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

While Fiorina has received a lot of criticism saying her claim was uninformed and based on faulty evidence, we can always count on Bill Nye the Science Guy to form his arguments around scientific truths. In his new video for the website Big Think, he accuses anti-abortion arguments of “a deep scientific lack of understanding.”  

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Nye released the video just four days after the House of Representatives approved a bill to cut $500 million in annual funding for Planned Parenthood, which could leave millions of single women, parents, and children without medical resources. According to NPR, only about 3 percent of the funding given to Planned Parenthood is even abortion-related, while the bulk of its funding goes to STD/STIs, contraception, cancer screenings, and other women’s services.

Planned Parenthood’s program aside, Nye asserts that there’s a fundamental misunderstanding about conception and, for that matter, at what point a fused sperm and egg truly becomes a human being. Scott Gilbert, a developmental biologist, told TechInsider that most scientists agree that human life doesn’t begin until 24 weeks after fertilization — when the brain starts producing wave patterns specific to humans.

Most abortions are performed long before the fetus shows these specific signs of life. In fact, the majority of the procedures occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. But above all, Nye thinks, “When it comes to women’s rights with respect to their reproduction, I think you should leave it to women.”

Nye points out that, realistically, taking away abortion clinics, birth control, and medical screenings has never lead to healthier societies. “We have to respect the facts,” he says.

The Science Guy argues that the majority of the people leading the anti-abortion movement are conservative men, and they’ll never have to deal with the physical and psychological pain of carrying an unwanted child.

“Nobody likes abortion, but you can’t tell somebody what to do,” Nye argues. “She has rights over this, especially if she doesn’t like the guy that got her pregnant. Like, she doesn’t want anything to do with your genes — get over it.”

Watch Nye’s argument in full below:


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