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Author Topic:   When does human life begin?
shadow71
Member (Idle past 1224 days)
Posts: 706
From: Joliet, il, USA
Joined: 08-31-2010


Message 1 of 327 (649395)
01-23-2012 8:41 AM


This sunday in the Catholic church in the U.S. was Right to Life sunday calling attention to the U.S. Supreme Court descision Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion through the creation of a right right to privacy interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
The Catholic chrurch's postion is that life begins at conception.

Is there a medical- scientific postion on when human life begins? If so what evidence for that postion?

I am not a scientist, but based upon my beliefs I concur with the church's postion. The Roe v. Wade decision medically is really not supported by any scientific evidence, just the belief of Justice Burger.


Replies to this message:
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Message 2 of 327 (649397)
01-23-2012 8:54 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the When does human life begin? thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.

    
Percy
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Posts: 18878
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 3 of 327 (649398)
01-23-2012 8:56 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by shadow71
01-23-2012 8:41 AM


When human life begins is a question of definitions, not science.

--Percy


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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 4 of 327 (649400)
01-23-2012 9:07 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by shadow71
01-23-2012 8:41 AM


Conceptuses
Shad writes:

The Catholic chrurch's postion is that life begins at conception.

And when exactly is that? The "moment" of conception is fraught with gradualistic realities. Firstly sometimes more than one sperm penetrates the egg and it takes time for the egg to eject those extra chromosones. And even once we are down to a single sperm it can be over a day before the genes of the sperm and egg combine. And then another day for the new genome to control the cell. So the "moment" of conception is more like a 48 hour period. When during this process has a human life been created do you think?

Shad writes:

Is there a medical- scientific postion on when human life begins?

There is some medical research into the brain development of fetuses and suchlike. But there isn't a definite science defined point at which we can say - "Yes this is now a human being" or "No this is not". It is necessarily arbitrary to some extent. In the same way that adulthood is a necessarily arbitrary legal distinction loosely based on biological development.

Shad writes:

I am not a scientist, but based upon my beliefs I concur with the church's postion. The Roe v. Wade decision medically is really not supported by any scientific evidence, just the belief of Justice Burger.

Did you know that about 60% of all conceptuses end up flushed down the toilet without anyone even realising that any conception had taken place? The majority of conceptuses never implant in the uterus.

If the church really wants to save human lives and genuinely believes that human life starts at the "point" of conception they should focus on research into this majority of conceptuses rather than get too riled up about the comparatively tiny amount that get intentionally aborted.

If saving human life as they have defined it really is the issue....


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Percy
Member
Posts: 18878
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 5 of 327 (649404)
01-23-2012 9:18 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Straggler
01-23-2012 9:07 AM


Re: Conceptuses
Straggler writes:

If the church really wants to save human lives and genuinely believes that human life starts at the "point" of conception they should focus on research into this majority of conceptuses rather than get too riled up about the comparatively tiny amount that get intentionally aborted.

If saving human life as they have defined it really is the issue....

Yes, the underlying agenda is the key issue. If abortion is homicide then isn't allowing a conceptus to be flushed negligent homicide, or at least manslaughter?

--Percy


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jar
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Posts: 31518
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


(1)
Message 6 of 327 (649405)
01-23-2012 9:21 AM


At the time of Jesus
At the time of Jesus, human life began on the eighth day (counting the day of birth as day one) after birth. That was when the baby was finally given a name and accepted into the tribe (and also circumcised).

Later in history a human life began once the child breathed on its own and cried.

Today human life is considered to begin at the third trimester.

The issue is not one of science but simply one of opinion.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

  
Larni
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Posts: 3990
From: Liverpool
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 7 of 327 (649407)
01-23-2012 9:27 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by shadow71
01-23-2012 8:41 AM


As far as I recall in the UK the fetus has no rights till it is born but as Percy say 'life' is and arbitarary point.

When you say 'life' what exactly do you mean? In the UK 24 weeks is concidered the cut off for abortion and this boils down to being viable.


The above ontological example models the zero premise to BB theory. It does so by applying the relative uniformity assumption that the alleged zero event eventually ontologically progressed from the compressed alleged sub-microscopic chaos to bloom/expand into all of the present observable order, more than it models the Biblical record evidence for the existence of Jehovah, the maximal Biblical god designer.
-Attributed to Buzsaw Message 53

The explain to them any scientific investigation that explains the existence of things qualifies as science and as an explanation
-Attributed to Dawn Bertot Message 286

Does a query (thats a question Stile) that uses this physical reality, to look for an answer to its existence and properties become theoretical, considering its deductive conclusions are based against objective verifiable realities.
-Attributed to Dawn Bertot Message 134


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Coragyps
Member
Posts: 5399
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002


(1)
Message 8 of 327 (649409)
01-23-2012 9:32 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by shadow71
01-23-2012 8:41 AM


Like Percy said: a matter of definitions.

I think that I can make a decent case that a 32-cell morula is not the same thing as a seven-pound baby. I think I could reasonably say that a microscopic ball of 32 cells is closer kin to the zygote it came from - a single cell formed from a sperm entering an ovum. And that ovum is mighty similar, except for the number of chromosomes it has, to a unfertilized ovum. A couple of millions of those get flushed down the toilet daily, just here in the US - and, for that matter, a great many zygotes, morulae, and blastulae do too: a big percentage of them never implant in the uterine wall for perfectly natural, non-medicine-induced reasons.

I will cheerfully buy into the notion that a 30-week fetus is closer to a seven-pound baby than to a morula. Modern medicine can make a lot of those little preemies survive, yes, but it is a mite expensive. And I'm not real comfortable with experiences like those of a good friend of mine, who struggled through a pregnancy on bed rest and doctor's care because her body kept trying to reject the fetus. He was born alright, but with the apparent mental and physical abilities of an eggplant. He lived about fifteen years under constant care, and then died. That's a more serious tragedy than a D&C at eight weeks along.

Shadow, I would imagine that you think there is something called a "soul." I know the Catholic Church thinks so. Is there any evidence for souls, or any evidence as to when they enter a zygote/morula/blastula/embryo/fetus/infant?


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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 9 of 327 (649412)
01-23-2012 9:38 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Larni
01-23-2012 9:27 AM


Larni writes:

As far as I recall in the UK the fetus has no rights till it is born but as Percy say 'life' is and arbitarary point.

That seems to be the case. From Wiki on the Murder in English law:

Wiki on Murder writes:

For a killing to amount to murder by a defendant, the defendant must have caused the death of "a reasonable creature in rerum natura". The phrase as a whole is usually translated as "a life in being", i.e. where the umbilical cord has been severed and the baby has a life independently of the mother. "Reasonable" here is used as in the 16th Century, meaning "something that may reasonably be considered [a living creature]".

The case Attorney General's Reference No. 3 of 1994 is a relatively recent case involving a murder charge for death of an unborn child. The Law Lords (now the Supreme Court) considered the case of a man who stabbed his pregnant wife in an argument. The wife recovered but delivered the baby prematurely. The baby died some time after the premature birth. The cause of death was simply that she had been born prematurely due to the effect of the attack on the mother, rather than due to any injury.[4]

In that case, Lord Mustill noted that the legal position of the unborn, and other pertinent rules related to transferred malice, were very strongly embedded in the structure of the law and had been considered relatively recently by the courts.[4] The Law Lords concurred that a fetus, although protected by the law in a number of ways, is legally not a separate person from its mother in English law.

Link


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nwr
Member
Posts: 5586
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


(6)
Message 10 of 327 (649430)
01-23-2012 10:14 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by shadow71
01-23-2012 8:41 AM


If the question is about biologically human life, then biological life is continuous. There isn't a beginning point, though presumably there was long long ago.

If destroying biologically human life is murder, then I commit murder whenever I nick myself while shaving.

If, on the other hand, "human life" refers to being a moral agent, then that agency slowly develops over the first few years after birth. It does not suddenly jump into existence.

If "human life" is to be taken from the way some religious conservatives behave, then human life begins at conception, and ends at birth (at which time the newborn becomes an economic burden on the taxpayer, rather than a human).

Personally, I happen to believe that the pregnant woman is a moral agent, and deserves the right to make decisions for herself.

If male legislators believe they have the responsibility to control the use of sex organs, I suggest they work on controlling the use of the penis.


Jesus was a liberal hippie

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Larni
Member
Posts: 3990
From: Liverpool
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 11 of 327 (649432)
01-23-2012 10:20 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by nwr
01-23-2012 10:14 AM


If, on the other hand, "human life" refers to being a moral agent, then that agency slowly develops over the first few years after birth. It does not suddenly jump into existence.

That would be my logical position but I can't look at a baby and think that way (even though I know there is no agency or personality there).

Instinct wins out over logic.


The above ontological example models the zero premise to BB theory. It does so by applying the relative uniformity assumption that the alleged zero event eventually ontologically progressed from the compressed alleged sub-microscopic chaos to bloom/expand into all of the present observable order, more than it models the Biblical record evidence for the existence of Jehovah, the maximal Biblical god designer.
-Attributed to Buzsaw Message 53

The explain to them any scientific investigation that explains the existence of things qualifies as science and as an explanation
-Attributed to Dawn Bertot Message 286

Does a query (thats a question Stile) that uses this physical reality, to look for an answer to its existence and properties become theoretical, considering its deductive conclusions are based against objective verifiable realities.
-Attributed to Dawn Bertot Message 134


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by nwr, posted 01-23-2012 10:14 AM nwr has acknowledged this reply

    
Rahvin
Member
Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 12 of 327 (649443)
01-23-2012 12:00 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by shadow71
01-23-2012 8:41 AM


Why we care
I'd like to expand just a little beyond nwr's very good post.

I don't think that biologically human life has any value. I don't mourn shed skin cells.

I think that self-awareness is what makes human life valuable, while I don;t particularly care about cows and cockroaches beyond preventing needless inhumane suffering.

I don't believe there is any divine or spiritual mandate that gives an individual human moral weight. I think, instead, that the moral weight of a person comes from that person's knowledge that they are alive, and that they don;t want to die, and that their own life has whatever meaning they and others attach to it.

When thinking about the moral weight of personhood on matters like abortion, I like to use the alien/AI test. It's not any codified test, it's just a check to keep my ethical values consistent.

Defining human life as having value simply on the basis of being human would mean that any alien species we could ever encounter, or any artificial intelligence, would be denied moral weight. It may sound silly, but the offense the Klingon characters in Star Trek VI took at the phrase "inalienable human rights" was perfectly valid (this is the first and hopefully last time I have mentioned Star Trek in a moral argument...). Assigning moral value to an individual should be sufficiently broad as to include a non-human sentient species that values its own existence, but not so broad as to include a non-sentient artificial intelligence that isn't even aware that it exists (sentient AI may be possible in the future, and such a being would also carry moral weight).

This means that defining moral weight by genetics and biology (ie, when "human life" begins) is an absurdity from the start. I cannot find any reason whatsoever to value a few dozen fetal cells any differently than semen not used in procreation, or a non-fertilized egg - all are potential biologically human lives, but none carry more moral weight than the skin cells I kill in my fingers by typing on a keyboard. It's not our chromosomes that give us moral significance, it's our awareness that we exist and the value we place on that existence.

Morally significant human life, that is, personhood, should then be considered to begin at the point where an individual is sufficiently developed to be aware of its own awareness. This too is a difficult moment to identify with great accuracy, but in the case of a human fetus, it seems fairly obvious to me that a clump of cells that does not yet even possess a distinct central nervous system could not possibly be aware of anything, let alone be self-aware. My understanding of human development is that brain waves thought to indicate sentience are detectable in the late 2nd trimester, and this is the point where I begin to attach any moral significance to the growing individual.

Theists of course tend to disagree, because they believe moral weight is carried by a "soul" that I don;t even think exists. They can arbitrarily believe that this "soul" attaches to the clump of human cells at conception, or after birth, at baptism, or when the gametes are first grown in the parents' bodies. Needless to say, I don;t find their moral arguments particularly persuasive.


β€œThe human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.”
- Francis Bacon

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers


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Panda
Member (Idle past 2003 days)
Posts: 2688
From: UK
Joined: 10-04-2010


Message 13 of 327 (649445)
01-23-2012 12:14 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by shadow71
01-23-2012 8:41 AM


shadow71 writes:

I am not a scientist, but based upon my beliefs I concur with the church's postion. The Roe v. Wade decision medically is really not supported by any scientific evidence, just the belief of Justice Burger.


The Justices did not make a decision about when life began.
Their decision was based on foetal viability and the extent of the states power to intervene.

From Wiki

quote:
The Court asserted that that the government had two competing interests – protecting the mother's health and protecting the "potentiality of human life". Following its earlier logic, the Court stated that during the first trimester, when the procedure is more safe than childbirth, the decision to abort must be left to the mother and her physician. The State has the right to intervene prior to fetal viability only to protect the health of the mother, and may regulate the procedure after viability so long as there is always an exception for preserving maternal health. The Court additionally added that the primary right being preserved in the Roe decision was that of the physician's right to practice medicine freely absent a compelling state interest – not women's rights in general. The Court explicitly rejected a fetal "right to life" argument.
There is little point using a definition of life as a counter-argument for the Roe vs Wade decision.
They didn't claim that a foetus was not alive.

Edited by Panda, : No reason given.

Edited by Panda, : No reason given.

Edited by Panda, : No reason given.


If I were you
And I wish that I were you
All the things I'd do
To make myself turn blue

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shadow71
Member (Idle past 1224 days)
Posts: 706
From: Joliet, il, USA
Joined: 08-31-2010


Message 14 of 327 (649456)
01-23-2012 2:30 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Percy
01-23-2012 8:56 AM


Percy writes:


When human life begins is a question of definitions, not science.

I am asking as to whether there is a scienctific definition of when human life begins.
In the U.S. the federal and State legislatures, if drafting a law as to what constitutes the crime of murder, will consult the scientific community in re the definition of human life.


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shadow71
Member (Idle past 1224 days)
Posts: 706
From: Joliet, il, USA
Joined: 08-31-2010


Message 15 of 327 (649457)
01-23-2012 2:39 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Straggler
01-23-2012 9:07 AM


Re: Conceptuses
Straggler writes:

And when exactly is that? The "moment" of conception is fraught with gradualistic realities. Firstly sometimes more than one sperm penetrates the egg and it takes time for the egg to eject those extra chromosones. And even once we are down to a single sperm it can be over a day before the genes of the sperm and egg combine. And then another day for the new genome to control the cell. So the "moment" of conception is more like a 48 hour period. When during this process has a human life been created do you think?

I would think the time of conception is when the sperm and egg have combined to form 46 human chromosomes that are implanted in the uterus and the human embro is formed.


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