Conception/Fertilization - What's The Difference?
What's the difference?
By Cecelia M. Cody
I was out having coffee with a pro-life friend a few weeks ago and we were
discussing the question, "When does life begin?" She was making a definite distinction
between "conception" and "fertilization," so I asked, "What's the difference?"
My friend explained that when we are defending the sanctity of life, we usually
use the word "conception" to mark the beginning of life. For example, we tell
people that life is sacred from the moment of conception to the moment of natural
death. However, she explained, due to some frightening happenings it may be
time to be more precise with our language.
By "conception," we in the pro-life movement understand this word as meaning
"the union of sperm and ovum." Another word for that same event is "fertilization."
Even the U.S. Senate used these two terms synonymously as recently as 1982 in
its two-volume report on the Human Life Bill then being debated. 
The meaning of the word "conception" has been intentionally changed by pro-abortion
forces in recent years to refer not to the fertilization of the ovum by the
sperm, but instead to the implantation of the blastocyst (the newly developing
human at about a week after fertilization) into the wall of the mother's uterus.
This change in definition has become so commonplace that it is reflected in
standard medical reference books such as OB & GYN Terminology: "Conception is
the implantation of the blastocyst. It is not synonymous with fertilization."
One example of this change in definition is the following, a quote from Planned
"According to general medical definitions of pregnancy that have been endorsed
by many organizations including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, pregnancy begins
when a pre-embryo  completes implantation into the lining of the uterus.
 Methods of contraception, including emergency contraception, prevent pregnancy
by inhibiting ovulation, fertilization and/or implantation."
So what's the big deal? Well, this means that now if a preborn baby is purposely
killed before implantation, what happens is not called abortion (the
name it deserves), but rather contraception, or the "prevention of conception."
Look at that Planned Parenthood quote again - they are admitting that some methods
of contraception prevent "pregnancy" by preventing "implantation"! If a baby
is alive and ready to implant it her mother's womb, isn't the mother pregnant?
(Yes!) Wouldn't killing this baby be abortion? (Yes!) Well, not any more! This
shift in language is a public relations move to cover up countless abortions.
Beware of these new definitions of words when you hear someone talk about "preventing
conception." What they really mean includes ABORTION.
So, should we use the term "fertilization" now instead of "conception," just
to be crystal clear in what we mean? With modern technology, genetic manipulation,
and the threat of cloning, there can even be problems with saying "fertilization."
Yes, human life begins with the union of sperm and ovum. But now, even though
the procedures used are immoral and contrary to God's plan for creating people,
some human lives may begin by other methods of asexual reproduction and the
transfer of cell nuclei. Similarly, if a person were ever cloned, he or she
would still be a person, with full human rights and dignity. Using the word
"fertilization" might be seen as excluding these instances of human life.
So now, to avoid any confusion about whether or not the smallest human beings
are persons, it may be best to explain that "human life is sacred, and is to
be protected, from the single-cell stage." This wording makes it clear that
implantation is not the start of a human life, and that all human beings are
members of our family regardless of the circumstances of their beginnings.
 See Human Life Bill, US Senate Committee on the Judiciary,
Subcommittee of Separation of Powers, 97th Congress, S-158, April-June 1982,
Serial No. J-97-16).
 OB & GYN Terminology, E. Hughes, ed., Philadelphia: F.A. Davis, 1972.
 Note: There is no such official term as a "pre-embryo." Use of this term
is yet another attempt to de-personalize the preborn human being.
 ACOG, 1998; DHHS, 1978; Hughes, 1972; "Make the Distinction..." 2001.
 From website dated August 2002,