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When Human Life Begins
American College of Pediatricians ^ | March 2004 | American College of Pediatricians

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 conception—fertilization. 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. Aristotle’s work on embryos is considered as the “beginning of the turning of man’s 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 ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: abortion; abortionlist; choice; eugenics; healthcare; humanrights; origins; prolife; science
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This statement of "Where We Stand" is a position paper of a group of Pediatricians who have spintered off from the American Academy of Pediatrics due to basic ethical differences. You may want to look at their other position statements, as well.
1 posted on 03/18/2004 6:47:40 PM PST by hocndoc
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To: Coleus; cpforlife.org; Mr. Silverback; MHGinTN; Alamo-Girl
Take a look at this!
2 posted on 03/18/2004 6:49:38 PM PST by hocndoc (Choice is the # 1 killer in the US)
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To: hocndoc; jocon307; firebrand
So true. I look forward to the day when doctors and scientists are again considered the authorities on the issue rather than a group of arrogant judges legislating from the bench.
3 posted on 03/18/2004 7:17:21 PM PST by Tabi Katz
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To: hocndoc
"The difference between the individual in its adult stage and in its zygotic stage is not one of personhood but of development." ... And that is why I continue to assert that exploiting human embryos for their body parts--their stem cells--is cannibalism. Of course, the cannibals in Hollywood see nothing amiss in living off of the body parts of other, younger humans. Apparently, the DNC is in agreement with the fine cannibals who donate so much money and face time to the Democrat's power lusts.
4 posted on 03/18/2004 7:51:29 PM PST by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote life support for others.)
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To: hocndoc
Oh! And thank you for the ping, Doctor.
5 posted on 03/18/2004 7:52:18 PM PST by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote life support for others.)
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To: hocndoc; backhoe; Woahhs; Victoria Delsoul; William Wallace; Bryan; aristeides; Bella_Bru; ...
PING))))))
6 posted on 03/18/2004 8:22:57 PM PST by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote life support for others.)
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To: MHGinTN
Thanks for the ping, Marvin.

Bump!

7 posted on 03/18/2004 8:53:40 PM PST by Victoria Delsoul (Kerry's 3 Purple Hearts are: 2 for minor arm and thigh injury and 1 for killing a semi-dead VietCong)
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To: hocndoc
Thanks for the ping!
8 posted on 03/18/2004 9:05:57 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: MHGinTN; Coleus; nickcarraway; Mr. Silverback; Canticle_of_Deborah; TenthAmendmentChampion; ...
When Human Life Begins - PING

Please let me know if you want on or off my Pro-Life Ping List.

9 posted on 03/18/2004 9:17:59 PM PST by cpforlife.org (The Missing Key of the Pro-Life Movement is at www.CpForLife.org)
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To: hocndoc
SPOTREP - LIFE - ORIGIN
10 posted on 03/18/2004 9:19:20 PM PST by LiteKeeper
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To: MHGinTN; hocndoc
Thanks for the ping, post.
11 posted on 03/18/2004 9:41:12 PM PST by PGalt
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To: 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; afraidfortherepublic; Alas; al_c; american colleen; annalex; ...
DO NO HARM, ping
12 posted on 03/18/2004 9:49:40 PM PST by Coleus (Roe v. Wade and Endangered Species Act both passed in 1973, Murder Babies/save trees, birds, algae)
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To: Mrs Zip; BOBWADE
ping
13 posted on 03/18/2004 10:12:40 PM PST by zip
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To: Mrs Zip; BOBWADE
ping
14 posted on 03/18/2004 10:12:42 PM PST by zip
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To: MHGinTN
BTTT!!!!!!
15 posted on 03/19/2004 5:23:52 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: hocndoc
You dont have to convince me! At 6 weeks, 2 days ago, we saw through an ultrasound our grand baby's heartbeat!!!!

Gunnrmike (aka Gunnrgramps)

16 posted on 03/19/2004 5:27:34 AM PST by gunnrmike (Initial success or total failure (Class 2B77))
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To: hocndoc
ABSTRACT. The American College of Pediatricians concurs with the body of scientific evidence that human life begins at conception—fertilization. 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.

Sounds as though they've been reading the following.
September 16, 1985

Dear Editor,

snip

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 individual’s 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 that’s scary.

17 posted on 03/19/2004 5:31:39 AM PST by aruanan
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To: hocndoc; cpforlife.org
Good post, and thanks for the ping
18 posted on 03/19/2004 6:16:06 AM PST by massiveblob
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To: MHGinTN; Alamo-Girl; marron; unspun; xzins; logos; restornu; PatrickHenry
“There are many forces driving a desire to redefine humanity. There are many apparent goods to be obtained, from the elimination of genetic defects to the cure of a whole host of diseases through embryonic stem cell manipulation. However, in all of our discussion about human nature, we must never succumb to the objectification or commodification of persons. We cannot allow the cold calculus of utilitarianism [to] influence our inherent, intrinsic understanding of who and what we are…This age of moral confusion cries out for a reaffirmation of that which makes human beings unique and worthy. Such ‘metaphysical pretensions’ are not preposterous, as Ayn Rand would have us believe, but are the only basis for human dignity.”

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.

19 posted on 03/19/2004 10:19:55 AM PST by betty boop (The purpose of marriage is to civilize men, protect women, and raise children. -- William Bennett)
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To: betty boop
So very true and so very beautifully written! Thank you, my sister in Christ!
20 posted on 03/19/2004 10:36:03 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: hocndoc; newgeezer; All
As a Christian a d a pro-lifer I usually get in trouble when I point out that the sin involved in all of these extramarital conceptions is a bigger deal, biblically, than when life begins.
21 posted on 03/19/2004 10:38:11 AM PST by biblewonk (The only book worth reading, and reading, and reading.)
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To: betty boop
Thanks for the ping, BB.
22 posted on 03/19/2004 10:40:34 AM PST by PatrickHenry (A compassionate evolutionist.)
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To: hocndoc
bump for later
23 posted on 03/19/2004 10:43:59 AM PST by Skooz (My Biography: Psalm 40:1-3)
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To: biblewonk
As a Christian a d a pro-lifer I usually get in trouble when I point out that the sin involved in all of these extramarital conceptions is a bigger deal, biblically, than when life begins.

Only if no attempt to end that life is involved in the equation.

24 posted on 03/19/2004 10:52:09 AM PST by conservonator (If it makes you feel better, imagine that all my posts have the </sarcasm> tag at the end.)
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To: conservonator
That's what I said. "When life begins" being abortion.
25 posted on 03/19/2004 10:53:42 AM PST by biblewonk (The only book worth reading, and reading, and reading.)
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To: hocndoc
At the completion of the process of fertilization, the human creature emerges as a whole, genetically distinct, individuated zygotic living human organism...

I have zero medical background so can you (or somebody) tell me what the "process of fertilization" entails? Is it completed after the sperm cell breaks through the cell wall of the egg, after implantation, or when?

26 posted on 03/19/2004 10:56:48 AM PST by DumpsterDiver
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To: biblewonk
That's what I said. "When life begins" being abortion.

That's not at all clear from you post. But then, I may be having a moment... and if that is your point, then why would it make any Christian mad?

27 posted on 03/19/2004 11:00:46 AM PST by conservonator (If it makes you feel better, imagine that all my posts have the </sarcasm> tag at the end.)
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To: DumpsterDiver
Don't worry about any lack of medical background. Unfortunately, too many doctors don't understand human embryology as a factual science, and allow their own personal prejudices to dominate their thinking.

Here's an answer from the article:

"""n the words of the ethicist Renée Mirkes: “At the completion of the process of fertilization when the male and female pronuclei of the human progenitors’ sperm and ovum are indistinguishable and lose their nuclear envelopes, the human creature emerges as a whole, genetically distinct, individuated zygotic human organism. This individuated human organism actually has the natural capacity for the person-defining activities of reasoning, willing, desiring, and relating to others. The human individual also possesses the actual, natural capacity to develop continuously into the mature (maximally differentiated) organism of a functional adult human being, the organic structural development of which is under the control of a sequence of primordial centers which begin with nuclear DNA or the genome, and eventually develops into the central nervous system, especially the fully developed brain with its cerebral cortex…The new zygote, a member of the species homo sapiens, with its particular (that is, genome-specific) bodily “matter” unified and organized, that is, formed or enlivened by means of its life principle—the soul and all of its person-defining natural powers---is a whole, living, human person. The difference between the individual in her adult stage and in her zygotic stage is not one of personhood but of development.”19"""
28 posted on 03/19/2004 1:48:07 PM PST by hocndoc (Choice is the # 1 killer in the US)
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To: hocndoc
Bump for the unborn!
29 posted on 03/19/2004 1:51:47 PM PST by 4CJ (||) OUR sins put Him on that cross - HIS love for us kept Him there. (||)
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To: hocndoc
I'm sorry but life begins when a baby takes it first breath not when a math formula says it does. I am neither prolife nor prochoice, it is just logic to me and in my view to nature too.
30 posted on 03/19/2004 1:54:00 PM PST by oldcomputerguy
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To: hocndoc
"At the completion of the process of fertilization when the male and female pronuclei of the human progenitors' sperm and ovum are indistinguishable and lose their nuclear envelopes, the human creature emerges as a whole, genetically distinct, individuated zygotic human organism."

So far, so good but I'm still wondering if this occurs before or after implantation. I'll go read the entire article and maybe check Google. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

31 posted on 03/19/2004 2:03:40 PM PST by DumpsterDiver
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To: oldcomputerguy
"I'm sorry but life begins when a baby takes it first breath..."

I would love to hear the logic behind that statement! (I think he is tying it into the "viability" argument...but of course the viability age of a baby has changed drastically in the last 30 years, and you can't say that what constitutes a baby today was NOT a baby in say 1960)

32 posted on 03/19/2004 2:28:43 PM PST by Drago
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To: PatrickHenry
dear Patrick, you're welcome!
33 posted on 03/19/2004 5:04:22 PM PST by betty boop (The purpose of marriage is to civilize men, protect women, and raise children. -- William Bennett)
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To: hocndoc; MHGinTN
"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."

Great article... but y'all better correct them about their misguided use throughout it of that specious, politically-created "zygote stage". <huge grin>
34 posted on 03/19/2004 7:27:32 PM PST by Trinity_Tx (Most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believin as we already do)
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To: DumpsterDiver
I wrote something just for folks like you wishing to understand this 'stuff' better. Please feel free to download and share the manuscript linked at http://weneedtalk.blogspot.com [ CLICK HERE SHORTCUT ]

For quick reference, the first cell of a new individual (the conceptus formed by union of a human sperm and an human ovum) is the zygote age of at least that individual human (and perhaps one or two more if twinning occurs later). The zygote age is several days before implantation ... and the gestational development of a human individual need no longer occur in a woman's body! This is all explained in the manuscripted linked above. And thank you for asking, rather than scoffing like some do when they don't get it at first glance.

35 posted on 03/19/2004 7:51:05 PM PST by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote life support for others.)
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To: Trinity_Tx
I usually leave off the "s" & "t", since a new individual human is present so the aging has begun.
36 posted on 03/19/2004 7:59:53 PM PST by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote life support for others.)
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To: oldcomputerguy
I'm sorry but life begins when a baby takes it first breath not when a math formula says it does. I am neither prolife nor prochoice, it is just logic to me and in my view to nature too.

Remember, logic is never a guarantee of truth. It's only a way of moving to the correct conclusion from the premises, even if the premises are contrary to fact.
All creatures with wings are butterflies.
The bat is a creature with wings.
Therefore, the bat is a butterfly.
The logic is sound. There is no doubt about the conclusion. It just happens to be factually incorrect, though entirely logical.

Saying that a baby isn't "alive" until it has taken its first breath is simply an arbitrary distinction. One could say, though, that a baby that isn't respiring is not alive. But a baby pre-birth is respiring from the moment of conception--the means just changes as developmentally appropriate. As the individual develops, its means of respiration changes from the simple diffusion needed by a single or small multicelled organism to the organ-based respiration of placental gas exchange to the organ-based respiration of pulmonary gas exchange. A living developing baby doesn't take its first breath until it is developmentally appropriate for it to do so. And, were it not alive and developing, it could never reach the developmental stage where respiration via breathing is necessary. It is, though, without doubt, a respiring individual. To state that only respiration involving the use of lungs makes the baby alive is, as stated above, simply an arbitrary distinction.

The origin of the "not alive until breathing" criterion is most likely the "not human until breathing because that's when the soul enters the body" argument. And the origin of this is probably the story of God breathing into Adam and Adam becoming a 'living soul'. Notice, though, God didn't breathe life into Eve. Her life was derived from Adam's. So does that mean that women have no soul?

Some would say (and I have heard them say it), well, it's when they start breathing that the spirit enters into them. If that's so, then they can't use God's breathing into Adam as the justification for the concept of breathing in air as the vehicle of soul delivery. God may have breathed into Adam, but he doesn't do it for anyone else. There is no such doctrine taught in the Bible.

For that matter, all air-breathing animals are described in Genesis as having 'the breath of life', but they are described as being qualitatively different than Adam and Eve. The animals having the 'breath of life' doesn't constitute their getting a soul and being human because of it. The word translated as 'living soul' isn't referring to the concept of an immortal spirit anyway. It's better translated as 'living being'.

Besides, as far as what the Bible teaches about the unborn, it is about as far as one can get from an idea of the unborn child not being human: "Lord, you knew me before I ever was; before I put on flesh, you knew me." The unborn John was said to have leapt in Elizabeth's womb for joy at hearing Mary's salutation. This doesn't support the unbreathing non-souled fetus hypothesis.

But maybe that happened after 'quickening', after the soul entered the fetus. "quickening" is another idea used to excuse abortions, as though before this point the fetus was inert and soulless, after which it was obviously active and living. This is merely a matter of phenomenology. Though there may be a point before which a woman can feel the fetus move, there is not a point before which the fetus isn't actively developing according to its own time table. Weird, though not surprising, that people should use some point where something about the fetus becomes obvious to them as the point before which they can feel comfortable in deciding to off it. If obviousness is the criterion, then the obviousness of the missed menstruation should be enough. And, also not surprisingly, it is enough for those who were anxiously hoping for conception. That point marks for them them beginning of their child.
37 posted on 03/19/2004 8:27:01 PM PST by aruanan
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To: hocndoc
Years ago, I heard an obstetrician giving an interview on television.

He said he feels so fortunate, because on a daily basis he gets to witness miracles as they happen.

I think the doctor's wisdom is a miracle, too.
38 posted on 03/19/2004 8:29:29 PM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (Much of your pain is self-chosen. --- Kahlil Gibran)
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To: oldcomputerguy
You have expressed a personal statement of faith which is not consistent with science - or the fact that the child moves within the uterus, can be observed in the petri dish as well as by ultrasound from fertilization.

Did you read the position statement or notice that the sponsoring group is a group of well respected Pediatricians ?(and a few associate members like me - I'm a family physician)
39 posted on 03/19/2004 8:37:30 PM PST by hocndoc (Choice is the # 1 killer in the US)
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To: DumpsterDiver
Sorry, I misunderstood your question.

No, the fertilization takes place in the fallopian tubes or a petri dish/flask. The new member of the species begins life about 5 to 8 days (in nature) before implantation.

The location does not determine species.
40 posted on 03/19/2004 8:39:54 PM PST by hocndoc (Choice is the # 1 killer in the US)
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To: aruanan
You are so good at explaining, and this post is proof. Thank you.
41 posted on 03/19/2004 8:46:34 PM PST by hocndoc (Choice is the # 1 killer in the US)
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To: Pan_Yans Wife
What a kind thing to say. Thank you.
42 posted on 03/19/2004 8:47:10 PM PST by hocndoc (Choice is the # 1 killer in the US)
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To: MHGinTN
Thanks for the pings and thanks for the information.
43 posted on 03/19/2004 8:47:34 PM PST by hocndoc (Choice is the # 1 killer in the US)
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To: hocndoc
My pleasure. You're welcome.
44 posted on 03/19/2004 9:04:34 PM PST by aruanan
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To: MHGinTN; hocndoc
My thanks to you both.
45 posted on 03/20/2004 4:11:32 AM PST by DumpsterDiver
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To: DumpsterDiver; MHGinTN; cpforlife.org; Mr. Silverback; Coleus
Here's a great chart, available on line as part of Amazon.com's "look inside" feature:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0443065837/ref=sib_rdr_prev2_ex2/104-2341387-7923127?%5Fencoding=UTF8&p=S008&j=1&ns=1#reader-page

Here's a word picture:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0721694128/ref=sib_rdr_prev2_ex2/104-2341387-7923127?%5Fencoding=UTF8&p=S008&j=1&ns=1#reader-page

and an incredible chart

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0721694128/ref=sib_rdr_next3_ex4/104-2341387-7923127?%5Fencoding=UTF8&p=S00A&j=1&ns=1#reader-page
46 posted on 03/21/2004 3:39:42 PM PST by hocndoc (Choice is the # 1 killer in the US)
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To: conservonator
Many pro-lifers think that abortion is the worlds biggest sin. When I suggest that the adultery and fornication and prostitution that is going on conceiving the babies seems to be a bigger sin they usually get upset. I often think of David and Bathsheba(sp) and that the baby was struck dead for David's sin.
47 posted on 03/22/2004 6:13:43 AM PST by biblewonk (The only book worth reading, and reading, and reading.)
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To: biblewonk
Many pro-lifers think that abortion is the worlds biggest sin.

It's not, sins against the Holy Spirit are.

When I suggest that the adultery and fornication and prostitution that is going on conceiving the babies seems to be a bigger sin they usually get upset.

Because you’re wrong. Murder is a graver sin than sins of the flesh. Remember Cain?

I often think of David and Bathsheba(sp) and that the baby was struck dead for David's sin.

God, not man made that decision. To equate the modern abortion and birth control to an act of Gods will in one specific biblical event is stretching it a bit. I'm reminded of Christ’s admonition about harming Children.

This conversation gives me a deja vu feeling...

48 posted on 03/22/2004 7:18:03 AM PST by conservonator (If it makes you feel better, imagine that all my posts have the </sarcasm> tag at the end.)
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To: conservonator
Yes I think we have had this conversation before.
49 posted on 03/22/2004 7:39:56 AM PST by biblewonk (The only book worth reading, and reading, and reading.)
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To: aruanan
"Saying that a baby isn't "alive" until it has taken its first breath is simply an arbitrary distinction"

Yes, but it is the one that nature intended. I agree science can keep anything alive these days but should we? I happen to believe that natural selection has a reason and there there is a threshold beyond which tampering is counterproductive. I am not saying we shouldn't save premies but there is a boundry that is most truly counterproductive.

You are not going to convince me of your view and frankly I could care less if I convince you of my view.

I never cease to be amazed by prolifers and prochoicers alike. We can throw in religious zealots too. They can never seem to comprehend that their positions are emotionally based. Emotionally based beliefs cannot be successfully argued, but they keep trying.
50 posted on 03/22/2004 8:58:35 AM PST by oldcomputerguy
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