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When Does Life Begin

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    I'm not totally sure where to place this topic, but the argument I'm using is coming from the Bible.



    The argument with abortion is basically when does life begin? Recently I've been meditating (thinking) on Scripture (Bible), and I remember God telling Noah not to eat any animal with it's blood inside of it because it's life is in the blood.



    So along with this kind of thought, I said to myself once the fetus produces it's own blood, certainly it's life is inside of it. It makes logical sense when you think about it (not to enforce my faith on others) because the fetus is certainly not circulating it's mother's blood. The blood it's circulating is it's own. I'm told by three or four weeks after conception, the heart forms and starts beating. So certainly by then, there is blood within the fetus. When you think about a dead body, and more specifically a body that's been dead for more than 48 hrs, the blood is no longer circulating and probably no longer present within the body. In the same way with conception and the days following, there may be no blood present. However certainly by the time the heart is beating (not that I'm saying blood is present once the heart is formed and beating), the fetus is circulating it's own blood. If there was a body in the morgue that we examined and found blood is still circulating within him/her, we would say this cat could still be alive.



    So maybe science can answer at particulary what point does the fetus have it's own blood, and within that amount of time between conception and the flowing of blood, abortion can be done. (Edit: or should I say emergency contraception)
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    But what if you're an 18-year-old princess trapped in a tower? Your argument is invalid.
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    (Original post by Pavlina)


    But what if you're an 18-year-old princess trapped in a tower? Your argument is invalid.
    This was the first thing I thought of as well!! + rep for this, brilliant.

    And OP, you make a great point. I guess I never really thought about when life begins, I personally wouldn't abort a baby unless I truly believed their quality of life would be such that it would be cruel for them to live, although I'm not sure I'd be able to do that even then. But yeah, I haven't really thought about it until now. I
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    Come now, let's have real discussion. I argue that the blood of the fetus is it's own blood, not of the mothers. So the blood is one of the first indicators that something independent of the mother and father has taken place. In other words, it's no longer just information and cells.
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    (Original post by Okashira)
    I'm not totally sure where to place this topic, but the argument I'm using is coming from the Bible.



    The argument with abortion is basically when does life begin? Recently I've been meditating (thinking) on Scripture (Bible), and I remember God telling Noah not to eat any animal with it's blood inside of it because it's life is in the blood.



    So along with this kind of thought, I said to myself once the fetus produces it's own blood, certainly it's life is inside of it. It makes logical sense when you think about it (not to enforce my faith on others) because the fetus is certainly not circulating it's mother's blood. The blood it's circulating is it's own. I'm told by three or four weeks after conception, the heart forms and starts beating. So certainly by then, there is blood within the fetus. When you think about a dead body, and more specifically a body that's been dead for more than 48 hrs, the blood is no longer circulating and probably no longer present within the body. In the same way with conception and the days following, there may be no blood present. However certainly by the time the heart is beating (not that I'm saying blood is present once the heart is formed and beating), the fetus is circulating it's own blood. If there was a body in the morgue that we examined and found blood is still circulating within him/her, we would say this cat could still be alive.



    So maybe science can answer at particulary what point does the fetus have it's own blood, and within that amount of time between conception and the flowing of blood, abortion can be done.
    Have you ever had a medium-rare steak? Plenty of blood in that. I wouldn't say that it's alive.
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    (Original post by michaelhaych)
    Have you ever had a medium-rare steak? Plenty of blood in that. I wouldn't say that it's alive.


    Yes, but it's blood is not circulating in the meat. Eventually the blood itself will go away. Yet with the fetus, whenever the blood develops, it's blood is circulating.
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    (Original post by Okashira)
    Yes, but it's blood is not circulating in the meat. Eventually the blood itself will go away. Yet with the fetus, whenever the blood develops, it's blood is circulating.
    Insects have no method of pumping blood around there body, it merely occupies a space inside of them and "sloshes" around. Are they alive?

    microorganisms have no circulatory system yet they are also alive. From the moment of conception, the zygote/embryo is exhibiting all the features of a living organism (Movement. Reproduction. Sensitivity. Nutrition. Excretion. Respiration. Growth.) and I don't think that there's much doubt that life begins at conception, however issues surrounding the beginning sentience or consciousness is a different matter, this is usually considered to be when an fetus becomes truly human. One could argue that this does not occur until late into the pregnancy when the cerebrum has sufficiently developed.
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    (Original post by michaelhaych)
    Insects have no method of pumping blood around there body, it merely occupies a space inside of them and "sloshes" around. Are they alive?

    microorganisms have no circulatory system yet they are also alive. From the moment of conception, the zygote/embryo is exhibiting all the features of a living organism (Movement. Reproduction. Sensitivity. Nutrition. Excretion. Respiration. Growth.) and I don't think that there's much doubt that life begins at conception, however issues surrounding the beginning sentience or consciousness is a different matter, this is usually considered to be when an fetus becomes truly human. One could argue that this does not occur until late into the pregnancy when the cerebrum has sufficiently developed.



    I guess I could have been more clear about the blood issue. Not necessarily that it circulates per say, but there is an active function in the blood. And yes, it does seem there is a difference between the scientific term of life and life from a consciousness standpoint.
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    (Original post by michaelhaych)
    Have you ever had a medium-rare steak? Plenty of blood in that. I wouldn't say that it's alive.
    Just so you know, there is approximately zero blood in steak. That red "juice" you see when you're eating it? Not blood
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    When does life begin?

    Human life begins at conception; an irrefutable biological fact.

    Any further debate is fruitless because not only has it been done to death, but also because it's circuitous and tends to bring in all other irrelavancies.
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    (Original post by yawn)
    Human life begins at conception; an irrefutable biological fact.
    What do you mean by this? Are you referring to chromosomes? How are you defining human beings?
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    (Original post by Annoying-Mouse)
    What do you mean by this? Are you referring to chromosomes? How are you defining human beings?
    It is not I who is defining when life begins. A report from Senate Judiciary Committ S-158, 1981 reads: "Physicians, biologists and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being - a being is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological and scientific writings."

    Apart from the view of the experts, we know that a split second after conception, this one-celled forty-six chromosomed human being possesses everything it needs to grow into an adult human - except time, of course.

    It's not a blue-print of a human being. It's not a part of a human being. It is a human being.

    I don't want to get involved in semantics because that's why such debates become circuitous. I am merely informing the thread what scientists are in agreement with...the biological fact that human life begins at conception.

    Edit I've just found these quotes on the Princeton University website that come from scientific journals corroborating that human life begins at conception.

    Life Begins at Fertilization
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    The following references illustrate the fact that a new human embryo, the starting point for a human life, comes into existence with the formation of the one-celled zygote:



    "Development of the embryo begins at Stage 1 when a sperm fertilizes an oocyte and together they form a zygote."
    [England, Marjorie A. Life Before Birth. 2nd ed. England: Mosby-Wolfe, 1996, p.31]



    "Human development begins after the union of male and female gametes or germ cells during a process known as fertilization (conception).
    "Fertilization is a sequence of events that begins with the contact of a sperm (spermatozoon) with a secondary oocyte (ovum) and ends with the fusion of their pronuclei (the haploid nuclei of the sperm and ovum) and the mingling of their chromosomes to form a new cell. This fertilized ovum, known as a zygote, is a large diploid cell that is the beginning, or primordium, of a human being."
    [Moore, Keith L. Essentials of Human Embryology. Toronto: B.C. Decker Inc, 1988, p.2]



    "Embryo: the developing organism from the time of fertilization until significant differentiation has occurred, when the organism becomes known as a fetus."
    [Cloning Human Beings. Report and Recommendations of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission. Rockville, MD: GPO, 1997, Appendix-2.]



    "Embryo: An organism in the earliest stage of development; in a man, from the time of conception to the end of the second month in the uterus."
    [Dox, Ida G. et al. The Harper Collins Illustrated Medical Dictionary. New York: Harper Perennial, 1993, p. 146]



    "Embryo: The early developing fertilized egg that is growing into another individual of the species. In man the term 'embryo' is usually restricted to the period of development from fertilization until the end of the eighth week of pregnancy."
    [Walters, William and Singer, Peter (eds.). Test-Tube Babies. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1982, p. 160]



    "The development of a human being begins with fertilization, a process by which two highly specialized cells, the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female, unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote."
    [Langman, Jan. Medical Embryology. 3rd edition. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1975, p. 3]



    "Embryo: The developing individual between the union of the germ cells and the completion of the organs which characterize its body when it becomes a separate organism.... At the moment the sperm cell of the human male meets the ovum of the female and the union results in a fertilized ovum (zygote), a new life has begun.... The term embryo covers the several stages of early development from conception to the ninth or tenth week of life."
    [Considine, Douglas (ed.). Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia. 5th edition. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1976, p. 943]



    "I would say that among most scientists, the word 'embryo' includes the time from after fertilization..."
    [Dr. John Eppig, Senior Staff Scientist, Jackson Laboratory (Bar Harbor, Maine) and Member of the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel -- Panel Transcript, February 2, 1994, p. 31]



    "The development of a human begins with fertilization, a process by which the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote."
    [Sadler, T.W. Langman's Medical Embryology. 7th edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins 1995, p. 3]



    "The question came up of what is an embryo, when does an embryo exist, when does it occur. I think, as you know, that in development, life is a continuum.... But I think one of the useful definitions that has come out, especially from Germany, has been the stage at which these two nuclei [from sperm and egg] come together and the membranes between the two break down."
    [Jonathan Van Blerkom of University of Colorado, expert witness on human embryology before the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel -- Panel Transcript, February 2, 1994, p. 63]



    "Zygote. This cell, formed by the union of an ovum and a sperm (Gr. zyg tos, yoked together), represents the beginning of a human being. The common expression 'fertilized ovum' refers to the zygote."
    [Moore, Keith L. and Persaud, T.V.N. Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects. 4th edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1993, p. 1]



    "The chromosomes of the oocyte and sperm are...respectively enclosed within female and male pronuclei. These pronuclei fuse with each other to produce the single, diploid, 2N nucleus of the fertilized zygote. This moment of zygote formation may be taken as the beginning or zero time point of embryonic development."
    [Larsen, William J. Human Embryology. 2nd edition. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1997, p. 17]



    "Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed.... The combination of 23 chromosomes present in each pronucleus results in 46 chromosomes in the zygote. Thus the diploid number is restored and the embryonic genome is formed. The embryo now exists as a genetic unity."
    [O'Rahilly, Ronan and Müller, Fabiola. Human Embryology & Teratology. 2nd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996, pp. 8, 29. This textbook lists "pre-embryo" among "discarded and replaced terms" in modern embryology, describing it as "ill-defined and inaccurate" (p. 12}]



    "Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote)... The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual."
    [Carlson, Bruce M. Patten's Foundations of Embryology. 6th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996, p. 3]



    "[A]nimal biologists use the term embryo to describe the single cell stage, the two-cell stage, and all subsequent stages up until a time when recognizable humanlike limbs and facial features begin to appear between six to eight weeks after fertilization....
    "[A] number of specialists working in the field of human reproduction have suggested that we stop using the word embryo to describe the developing entity that exists for the first two weeks after fertilization. In its place, they proposed the term pre-embryo....
    "I'll let you in on a secret. The term pre-embryo has been embraced wholeheartedly by IVF practitioners for reasons that are political, not scientific. The new term is used to provide the illusion that there is something profoundly different between what we nonmedical biologists still call a six-day-old embryo and what we and everyone else call a sixteen-day-old embryo.
    "The term pre-embryo is useful in the political arena -- where decisions are made about whether to allow early embryo (now called pre-embryo) experimentation -- as well as in the confines of a doctor's office, where it can be used to allay moral concerns that might be expressed by IVF patients. 'Don't worry,' a doctor might say, 'it's only pre-embryos that we're manipulating or freezing. They won't turn into real human embryos until after we've put them back into your body.'"
    [Silver, Lee M. Remaking Eden: Cloning and Beyond in a Brave New World. New York: Avon Books, 1997, p. 39]
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    (Original post by yawn)
    It is not I who is defining when life begins. A report from Senate Judiciary Committ S-158, 1981 reads: "Physicians, biologists and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being - a being is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological and scientific writings."

    Apart from the view of the experts, we know that a split second after conception, this one-celled forty-six chromosomed human being possesses everything it needs to grow into an adult human - except time, of course.

    It's not a blue-print of a human being. It's not a part of a human being. It is a human being.

    I don't want to get involved in semantics because that's why such debates become circuitous. I am merely informing the thread what scientists are in agreement with...the biological fact that human life begins at conception.
    That doesn't make it a biological fact. Plus I can't get any reference to the actual document and it only comes from pro-life websites. Reading a pro-website that I found searching for the reference, it seems as though a lawyer called scientist that were already pro-life and showed their testimony. Surely you can see the problem with this selection bias? We can't also ignore the fact that the US is a heavily socially Christian country, especially in those times. By the same contrast, I'm sure most of the NAS (national academy of scientist) are pro-choice but I'd also discredit their opinion because it's most likely formed due to their atheism.

    I'd be interested to see if there was any definition of a human being in the biological community or how it's actually classified.
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    (Original post by Annoying-Mouse)
    That doesn't make it a biological fact. Plus I can't get any reference to the actual document and it only comes from pro-life websites. Reading a pro-website that I found searching for the reference, it seems as though a lawyer called scientist that were already pro-life and showed their testimony. Surely you can see the problem with this selection bias? We can't also ignore the fact that the US is a heavily socially Christian country, especially in those times. By the same contrast, I'm sure most of the NAS (national academy of scientist) are pro-choice but I'd also discredit their opinion because it's most likely formed due to their atheism.

    I'd be interested to see if there was any definition of a human being in the biological community or how it's actually classified.
    See my edit which was prepared and reposted before I saw this post of yours.
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    (Original post by yawn)
    See my edit which was prepared and reposted before I saw this post of yours.
    It seems to me that fertilisation is the only sensible biological answer to the question of when life begins, but that does not necessarily mean it is the best cultural answer. The Romans thought that birth was the best cultural answer, whereas many modern societies, like ours, place emphasis on fetal viability.
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    no idea ... maybe when you discover your purpose in life/are truly happy with life.
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    (Original post by yawn)
    See my edit which was prepared and reposted before I saw this post of yours.
    I'm reading a part about it and fair enough, I agree with you. That does seem the best answer biologically.
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    (Original post by Apeiron)
    It seems to me that fertilisation is the only sensible biological answer to the question of when life begins, but that does not necessarily mean it is the best cultural answer. The Romans thought that birth was the best cultural answer, whereas many modern societies, like ours, place emphasis on fetal viability.
    It hardly matters what is the best "cultural answer". Different cultures have different levels of acceptance for different things. We don't have the death penalty, but the US does. Different cultures have different ages for the age of consent etc.
    What is a "cultural answer" is just a matter of opinion. You can't say that the question of "when life begins" is a mere matter of opinion. There has to be a definite point when life begins, as a FACT, not as an opinion.

    I mean, there are some things that are just NOT a matter of opinion. A spade is a spade is a spade. It's not a spade in one country, but a potato in another. It's not as though it is a spade today, but 200 years ago it was a cup of tea. No, it's a spade! Always has been and always will be a spade!
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    (Original post by Annoying-Mouse)
    I'm reading a part about it and fair enough, I agree with you. That does seem the best answer biologically.
    Thanks.

    That was the only point of my contribution...to clarify the answer to the question posed in the thread title. Anything beyond that is down to personal opinion and semantics and thus the reason I don't want to get inveigled into debate 'cos I've done it too many times over the years on TSR.
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    Surely the only sensible way to determine when life begins is at fertilisation.

    Before then, you don't really have anything.

    After that point the viability of the embryo/foetus/baby is determined by nothing other than the medical resources and level of technological development available at the time it is 'born'.

    I mention this as someone mentioned that 'modern societies place an emphasis on fetal viability' - well they might do, but you can't define when something has life based upon whether there is a chance of the foetus surviving if it's born. Otherwise the definition of when something has live would be ever changing and be dependent upon scientific advances. This makes the whole idea of when something is alive quite unscientific and dependant upon arbitrary factors that vary from country to country.


    So it seems sensible the only position you can take is that life starts at conception and no other time.


    However, I do think we can use the idea of foetal viability to tell us that our laws are wrong. We currently have many perfectly healthy babies born before 24 weeks in this country and indeed around the world and many more with some level of disability.

    That shows us that we if instead of aborting babies at 24 weeks, we could induce the mother and the baby has a chance of surviving.

    I think it's horrific that even one baby might be aborted in this country at a stage where under different circumstances it has a chance of surviving independently of it's mother if chances lead to it being born instead of aborted.

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