Tech & Science

Bill Nye Brings Down Hammer of Science on Abortion Opponents

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Bill Nye, "The Science Guy", poses for a photograph with 3D glasses at the the opening of the IMAX film titled "Magnificent Desolation Walking on the Moon 3D" at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. September 21, 2005. Chris Kleponis/Reuters

Bill Nye, the beloved Science Guy of yesteryear who became a household name with his educational science videos, is on a contemporary crusade to inject some scientific sense into contemporary issues, including evolutionary teachings in schools, climate change and anti-abortion arguments.

On Tuesday, Nye released a video on The Big Think’s channel titled “Can We Stop Telling Women What to Do With Their Bodies?” The video features Nye facing the camera and tackling a slew of beliefs that activists typically use to protest pro-abortion legislation and abortion clinics. Specifically, his argument focuses on the belief that conception begins when a sperm fertilizes the egg and that the result thus must be protected, a common refrain from anti-abortion activists.

“Many, many, many, many more hundreds of eggs are fertilized than become humans,” he says in the video. “But if you’re going to hold that as a standard—that is to say, that when an egg is fertilized, it therefore has the same rights as a human, whom are you going to sue? Whom are you going to imprison? Every woman who’s had a fertilized egg pass through her? Every guy whose sperm has fertilized an egg and then it didn’t become a human? Have all these people failed you?"

He continues: “It’s a reflection of a deep scientific misunderstanding. It appears you literally have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said, referring to anti-abortion activists who utilize this argument in debates. In fact, scientists have determined that roughly 50 percent of fertilized eggs fail to reach full stages of pregnancy.

Nye is sympathetic to those holding long-standing religious beliefs. However, he makes a point to say that books written many centuries ago for a different society with a different set of priorities (in other words, the Bible) can’t be a guide for contemporary understanding. “To pass laws based on that belief is inconsistent with nature,” he says. “When it comes to women’s rights with regards to their reproduction, I think you should leave it to women.”

Though Nye doesn’t mention it explicitly, the video comes on the heels of the House of Representatives last week passing a measure that would effectively defund Planned Parenthood because it offers abortions. Yet as an NPR report notes, only 3 percent of funds allocated to Planned Parenthood actually go to abortions, while 42 percent is used to further women’s reproductive health and safety with STD/STI tests, and 9 percent goes to cancer screenings. "To squander resources on this argument based on bad science, on just lack of understanding, is very frustrating,” Nye says of the anti-abortion push.

At the end of the video, Nye encourages people to look at the facts and lean on science, which has enabled us to understand how life is conceived, and develops, to begin with. “Nobody likes abortion, but you can’t tell somebody what to do. She has rights over this,” Nye said, addressing his fellow countrymen. “She doesn’t want anything to do with your genes. Get over it.”

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