Skip to comments.When Human Life Begins
Posted on 03/18/2004 6:47:40 PM PST by hocndoc
When Human Life Begins
ABSTRACT. The American College of Pediatricians concurs with the body of scientific evidence that human life begins at conceptionfertilization. This definition has been expounded since prior to Roe v. Wade, but was not made available to the US Supreme Court in 1973. Scientific and medical discoveries over the past three decades have only verified and solidified this age-old truth. At the completion of the process of fertilization, the human creature emerges as a whole, genetically distinct, individuated zygotic living human organism, a member of the species homo sapiens, needing only the proper environment in order to grow and develop. The difference between the individual in its adult stage and in its zygotic stage is not one of personhood but of development. The Mission of the American College of Pediatricians is to enable all children to reach their optimal physical and emotional health and well-being from the moment of conception. This statement reviews some of the associated historical, ethical and philosophical issues.
For hundreds of years physicians have pondered on the origin of human life. Aristotles work on embryos is considered as the beginning of the turning of mans mind away from superstition and conjecture, toward observation.1 Even though Aristotle is generally regarded as the founder of the science of embryology, his work was actually preceded by that of Hippocrates in his writings about the development of the chick embryo. In the 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci published observations of embryonic and fetal development. In the following century, Marcello Malpighi, aided by the invention of the microscope, erroneously put forth the preformation theory of human development arising from the homunculus. It was the cell theory developed by Schleiden and Schwann in 1839 which recognized that a spermatozoon fuses with an oocyte and forms a zygote, the conception of a new human life.
For over thirty years pediatricians have been advocates for the child from conception.2 Likewise, for over twenty years pediatricians have demanded the full recognition of the rights of the child before birth including the right to be accepted by family and society, the right to be loved and cared for, and the right to grow and develop without environmental hazards or aggressions.3
Pediatricians assert the inherent worth of all children, considering them as our most enduring and vulnerable legacy,4 and they affirm as their mission to attain optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents and young adults.5 For generations pediatricians have regarded the term children as inclusive of life from conception.
(Excerpt) Read more at acpeds.org ...
Gunnrmike (aka Gunnrgramps)
September 16, 1985
Genetically speaking, there is a time before which an individual of a sexually reproducing species does not exist and after which it does, be it ever so humble. From that moment to the moment of its dissolution it passes through definable stages of development and degeneration. Here are some that apply to us: zygote, embryo, fetus, newborn, infant, toddler, child, pre-adolescent, young adult, mature adult, old-aged. Upon this continuum of development place an asterisk where it becomes human and perhaps another where its humanity ceases as far as the empirical world is concerned. Many would place the asterisks at conception and death (death defined as the irreversible disruption of the continuum). I do. It is this creature appearing at conception and disappearing at death that is human. Against this, talk about seeds not being trees and fertilized eggs not being chickens shows itself for the silly ontogenocentrism that it is-- the full-grown chicken is not a fertilized egg, but both are developmental stages of the same being. An acorn is not a tree, but both are equally oak.
If human being is a later stage of an individuals existence, then what is the name for the being started at conception and ended at death? On the individual level the first view calls it human whether conscious or not, crippled, retarded, senile, diseased, sinful, intelligent, female, or male. The second view permits quality of life and value to society to define the parameters of being human and those who have the power to do so to define those terms, whether a woman and her physician, N.A.R.A.L, or Big Brother.
The bottom line is that there is a struggle between equality under law (metaphysics) and power as the law (empiricism), between doing what we ought and doing whatever we can get away with, between submitting our desires to a higher moral law or enshrining our desires as the only moral law.
One will never find the answers in the charts and tables of science. And for the modern man thats scary.
A redefinition of humanity, in order to facilitate utilitarian purposes??? Why, yes -- we see that going on all around us these days, courtesy of the progressive Left and their epigones. They argue we can't let little things like human dignity and sanctity stand in the way of Progress, dontcha know!!! And some people are more "equal" than others -- as Napoleon (as I recall) pointed out in George Orwell's Animal Farm.
Translation: To progressive leftists and many secularists, a pregnant woman has unlimited rights, and her preborn child exactly none. This is what passes for justice these days....
Yet, to "commodify" a child, or any other person for that matter, at any stage of life, is to sin against both God and nature. Human beings are ends in themselves, not means to ends that serve the interests of the powerful.
Justice and truth stand eternally; they are not of human origin. Man can try to displace or redefine them; but all his efforts will be in vain. Who does not stand for Life runs the risk of the second death.... Or so it seems to me. Pace, Ms. Rand.
Thanks so much, Marvin, for the ping to this excellent article.
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