Jerome Lejeune: Advocate for Life in France, the U.S., and Around the World

Jerome Lejeune: Advocate for Life in France, the U.S., and Around the World

Dr. Jerome Lejeune’s renown in the scientific community, as well as his ardent support of life from the beginning of conception, made him a sought-after public speaker. He spoke at hundreds of conferences throughout the world, including many in the U.S.

He addressed many prestigious universities, including Stanford, Harvard, UCLA, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, Cornell, MIT, and others, as well as hospitals and pro-life organizations. His last speech in the United States was given in 1987, just seven years before his passing.

Standing for Life at the American Society of Human Genetics

One of his most famous speeches was given at the American Society of Human Genetics in San Francisco, in October 1969, when he was receiving the William Allen Memorial Award. He spoke out against abortion and the culture of death, knowing that it would eliminate any chance of his receiving the Nobel Prize:

Should we capitulate in the face of our own ignorance and propose to eliminate those we cannot help?

For millennia, medicine has striven to fight for life and health and against disease and death. Any reversal of the order of these terms of reference would entirely change medicine itself.

Affirming Life from the Moment of Conception

In 1989, Dr. Lejeune also came to the U.S. to testify in a case that dealt with the custody of frozen embryos for a couple that was seeking a divorce. He provided a moving testimony that they should be considered early human beings, and thus were worthy of protection:

[E]ach human has a unique beginning which occurs at the. moment of conception…As soon as the program is written on the DNA, there are twenty-three different pieces of program carried by the spermatozoa and there are twenty-three different homologous pieces carried by the ovum. As soon as the twenty-three chromosomes carried by the sperm encounter the twenty-three chromosomes carried by the ovum, the whole information necessary and sufficient to spell out all the characteristics of the new being is gathered…

An early human being…cannot be the property of anybody because it’s the only one in the world to have the property of building himself, And I would say that science has a very simple conception of man; as soon as he has been conceived, a man is a man.

Full List of United States Speaking Engagements of Dr. Jerome Lejeune

Pasadena 1958 Taught Human Genetics with Professor Beaddle
Los Angeles 1958 City of Hope
Seattle 1958 Faculty of Medicine
Denver 1958 Medical Center
Ann Arbor 1958 Institute of Human Genetics
Baltimore 1958 Johns Hopkins Hospital
New York 1959 Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease
Denver 1960 University of Colorado
Oak Ridge, TN 1960 Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Cleveland 1960 Western Reserve University
Ann Arbor 1960 Institute of Human Genetics
Boston 1961 Massachusetts General Hospital
Philadelphia 1961 Cancer Institute
Boston 1962 Children’s Hospital
Princeton 1962 Macy Foundation Conference
San Francisco 1963 Stanford University School of Medicine
Los Angeles 1963 University of California
Pasadena 1963 California Institute of Technology
New York 1963 Second International Conference on Congenital Malformations.
New York 1963 International Awards Program — The Joseph Kennedy Foundation.
Boston 1964 Forsyth Dental Center
Philadelphia 1965 Wistar Symposium
Brooklyn 1965 Jewish Hospital and Medical Center
New York 1966 Rockefeller University.
Boston 1966 Harvard University School of Public Health
Los Angeles 1966 Society of Biological Psychiatry
Birmingham 1966 University of Alabama Medical Center
Chicago 1966 University of Chicago — International Congress of Human Genetics
Bethesda 1966 National Institutes of Health — Critical Areas in Human Genetics Research
Boston 1966 Kennedy International Awards
San Francisco 1969 American Society of Human Genetics
Baltimore 1969 John Hopkins University
Brooklyn 1969 The Jewish Hospital and Medical Center
Bethesda 1971 N.I.H. Fogarty International Center
Washington D.C 1971 International Symposium on Ethics — Kennedy Foundation
Washington 1972 Kennedy Foundation
Washington 1973 Georgetown University
Washington 1976-1977 Georgetown University
New York 1977 Cornell University
Los Angeles 1973 Kaiser Center at UCLA
Pasadena 1973 California Institute of Technology
Boston 1973 Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston 1979 M.I.T. — Ecumenical Congress of Churches
Rochester 1978 Mayo Clinic
Chicago 1980 Pro Life Congress
Washington, D.C. 1981 United States Senate
Chicago 1982 Loyola University Chicago — Stritch School of Medicine
Baltimore 1983 Kennedy Institute
Chicago 1983 Americans United for Life
Chicago 1984 Illinois Masonic Medical Center
San Antonio 1984 University of Texas
Houston 1984 University of Houston — Faculty of Medicine
Detroit 1986 Committee on Human Values
Dallas 1987 Pope John Center
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