Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Life: Defining the Beginning by the End
First Things ^ | May 2003 | Maureen L. Condic

Posted on 05/25/2003 2:32:09 PM PDT by Remedy

What defines the beginning of human life? This question has been the topic of considerable legal and social debate over the years since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision—debate that has only been intensified by the recent controversies over human embryonic stem cells and human cloning. Answers to this question run the full gamut from those who argue that life begins at conception (the view of more than one major world religion) to those arguing that babies are not to be considered fully human until a month after birth (the position of Princeton Professor of Bioethics Peter Singer).

The range of dissent and disagreement on the question of when human life begins has led many to believe it cannot be reasonably resolved in a pluralistic society. Courts have ruled that the diversity of opinion on the topic precludes a judicial resolution, requiring instead that the matter be addressed in the political arena, where accommodation of divergent views can be wrought through debate and compromise. Many Americans appear equally unwilling to impose a single interpretation on society, preferring instead to allow decisions regarding the beginning of life to be largely a matter of personal choice.

While reluctance to impose a personal view on others is deeply ingrained in American society, one must question the legitimacy of such reluctance when the topic of our "imposition" is a matter (quite literally) of life and death. Few beyond the irrationally obdurate would maintain that human embryos are anything other than biologically Homo sapiens and alive, even at the earliest developmental stages. Equally few would contest the fact that, at early stages of embryonic development, human embryos bear little resemblance to anything we easily identify as "human." For most people, reconciling these two facts involves the uncomfortably fuzzy process of drawing a line somewhere during the continuously changing process of human prenatal development and asserting: "There. That’s when human life begins—at least for me." It is precisely the subjectivity and inaccuracy of this decision that fuels our discomfort at "imposing" it on others.

In contrast to the widespread disagreement over when human life begins, there is a broad social and legal consensus regarding when human life ends. Rarely has the point been made that the definition of human death can be applied to the question of when life commences with compelling symmetry. The definition of when life ends is both scientific and objective, and does not depend on personal belief or moral viewpoint. The current medical and legal understanding of death unambiguously defines both when human life ends and when it begins in a manner that is widely accepted and consistent with the legal and moral status of human beings at all stages of life.

Death is something most people readily recognize when they see it. People express very little confusion about the difference between a living person and a corpse. Surprisingly, however, the distinction is not as clear from a medical and scientific perspective. There is very little biologic difference between a living person in the instant before death and the body of that person an instant after death. Yet some property has clearly departed from the body in death, and that property is precisely the element that defines "human life." What, then, is the difference between live persons and dead ones? How is death defined medically and scientifically?

The question of when and under precisely what conditions people are viewed as "dead" has itself been the subject of considerable debate. Traditionally, the medical profession considered a person dead when his heart stopped beating—a condition that rapidly results in the death of the cells of the body due to loss of blood flow. As the life-saving potential of organ transplants became increasingly apparent in the 1960s, the medical community undertook a reexamination of the medical standards for death. Waiting until the heart stops beating results in considerable damage to otherwise transplantable organs. After a long and contentious debate, a new standard of death was proposed in 1968 that defined "brain death" as the critical difference between living persons and corpses, a standard that is now widely (although not universally) accepted throughout the world.

Brain death occurs when there has been irreversible damage to the brain, resulting in a complete and permanent failure of brain function. Following the death of the brain, the person stops thinking, sensing, moving, breathing, or performing any other function, although many of the cells in the brain remain "alive" following loss of brain function. The heart can continue to beat spontaneously for some time following death of the brain (even hearts that have been entirely removed from the body will continue to beat for a surprisingly long period), but eventually the heart ceases to function due to loss of oxygen. The advantage of brain death as a legal and medical definition for the end of life is that the quality of organs for transplant can be maintained by maintaining artificial respiration. So long as oxygen is artificially supplied, the heart will continue to beat and the other organs of the body will be maintained in the same state they were prior to death of the brain.

Defining death as the irreversible loss of brain function remains for some a controversial decision. The fact that the cells and organs of the body can be maintained after the death of the individual is a disturbing concept. The feeling that corpses are being kept artificially "alive" as medical zombies for the convenient culture of transplantable organs can be quite discomforting, especially when the body in question is that of a loved one. Nonetheless, it is important to realize that this state of affairs is essentially no different from what occurs naturally following death by any means. On a cellular and molecular level, nothing changes in the instant of death. Immediately following death, most of the cells in the body are still alive, and for a time at least, they continue to function normally. Maintaining heartbeat and artificial respiration simply extends this period of time. Once the "plug is pulled," and the corpse is left to its own devices, the cells and organs of the body undergo the same slow death by oxygen deprivation they would have experienced had medical science not intervened.

What has been lost at death is not merely the activity of the brain or the heart, but more importantly the ability of the body’s parts (organs and cells) to function together as an integrated whole. Failure of a critical organ results in the breakdown of the body’s overall coordinated activity, despite the continued normal function (or "life") of other organs. Although cells of the brain are still alive following brain death, they cease to work together in a coordinated manner to function as a brain should. Because the brain is not directing the lungs to contract, the heart is deprived of oxygen and stops beating. Subsequently, all of the organs that are dependent on the heart for blood flow cease to function as well. The order of events can vary considerably (the heart can cease to function, resulting in death of the brain, for example), but the net effect is the same. Death occurs when the body ceases to act in a coordinated manner to support the continued healthy function of all bodily organs. Cellular life may continue for some time following the loss of integrated bodily function, but once the ability to act in a coordinated manner has been lost, "life" cannot be restored to a corpse—no matter how "alive" the cells composing the body may yet be.

It is often asserted that the relevant feature of brain death is not the loss of integrated bodily function, but rather the loss of higher-order brain activities, including consciousness. However, this view does not reflect the current legal understanding of death. The inadequacy of equating death with the loss of cognitive function can be seen by considering the difference between brain death and "persistent vegetative state" or irreversible coma. Individuals who have entered a persistent vegetative state due to injury or disease have lost all higher brain functions and are incapable of consciousness. Nonetheless, integrated bodily function is maintained in these patients due to the continued activity of lower-order brain centers. Although such patients are clearly in a lamentable medical state, they are also clearly alive; converting such patients into corpses requires some form of euthanasia.

Despite considerable pressure from the medical community to define persistent vegetative state as a type of brain death (a definition that would both expand the pool of organ donors and eliminate the high medical costs associated with maintaining people in this condition), the courts have repeatedly refused to support persistent vegetative state as a legal definition of death. People whose bodies continue to function in an integrated manner are legally and medically alive, despite their limited (or absent) mental function. Regardless of how one may view the desirability of maintaining patients in a persistent vegetative state (this being an entirely distinct moral and legal question), there is unanimous agreement that such patients are not yet corpses. Even those who advocate the withdrawal of food and water from patients in persistent vegetative state couch their position in terms of the "right to die," fully acknowledging that such patients are indeed "alive." While the issues surrounding persistent vegetative state are both myriad and complex, the import of this condition for understanding the relationship between mental function and death is clear: the loss of integrated bodily function, not the loss of higher mental ability, is the defining legal characteristic of death.

What does the nature of death tell us about the nature of human life? The medical and legal definition of death draws a clear distinction between living cells and living organisms. Organisms are living beings composed of parts that have separate but mutually dependent functions. While organisms are made of living cells, living cells themselves do not necessarily constitute an organism. The critical difference between a collection of cells and a living organism is the ability of an organism to act in a coordinated manner for the continued health and maintenance of the body as a whole. It is precisely this ability that breaks down at the moment of death, however death might occur. Dead bodies may have plenty of live cells, but their cells no longer function together in a coordinated manner. We can take living organs and cells from dead people for transplant to patients without a breach of ethics precisely because corpses are no longer living human beings. Human life is defined by the ability to function as an integrated whole—not by the mere presence of living human cells.

What does the nature of death tell us about the beginning of human life? From the earliest stages of development, human embryos clearly function as organisms. Embryos are not merely collections of human cells, but living creatures with all the properties that define any organism as distinct from a group of cells; embryos are capable of growing, maturing, maintaining a physiologic balance between various organ systems, adapting to changing circumstances, and repairing injury. Mere groups of human cells do nothing like this under any circumstances. The embryo generates and organizes distinct tissues that function in a coordinated manner to maintain the continued growth and health of the developing body. Even within the fertilized egg itself there are distinct "parts" that must work together—specialized regions of cytoplasm that will give rise to unique derivatives once the fertilized egg divides into separate cells. Embryos are in full possession of the very characteristic that distinguishes a living human being from a dead one: the ability of all cells in the body to function together as an organism, with all parts acting in an integrated manner for the continued life and health of the body as a whole.

Linking human status to the nature of developing embryos is neither subjective nor open to personal opinion. Human embryos are living human beings precisely because they possess the single defining feature of human life that is lost in the moment of death—the ability to function as a coordinated organism rather than merely as a group of living human cells.

What are the advantages of defining the beginning of human life in the same manner that we define its end, based on the integrated organismal function of human beings? To address this question, the alternative arguments regarding when life begins must be briefly considered. While at first inspection, there appear to be many divergent opinions regarding when human life commences, the common arguments are only of three general types: arguments from form, arguments from ability, and arguments from preference. The subjective and arbitrary nature of these arguments stands in stark contrast to the objective and unambiguous definition that organismal function provides for both the beginning and end of human life.

Of all the arguments regarding when human life begins, the most basic, and perhaps most intuitive, is that to be human, one must look human. Early human embryos are often described as "merely a ball of cells," and for many, it is difficult to imagine that something that looks more like a bag of marbles than a baby could possibly be a human being. Fundamentally, this argument asserts that human life is worthy of respect depending on appearance. When plainly stated, this conclusion is quite disturbing and also quite problematic. What level of malformation are we willing to accept before we revoke the right to continued existence? How are we to view children whose mature form will not be completely manifest until puberty? Form alone is a profoundly trivial and capricious basis for assigning human worth, and one that cannot be applied without considerable and obvious injustice.

The superficiality of equating worth with form is sufficient for most to reject this argument and retreat to a functional definition: form per se is not the issue; rather, it is the ability to function as a human being that defines the beginning of human life. Human beings are capable of a number of distinctive functions (self-awareness, reason, language, and so forth) that are acquired gradually over prenatal life as development proceeds. Therefore, the argument goes, human worth is also gradually acquired, with early embryos being less human than more developed fetuses.

A number of seemingly independent arguments regarding when life begins are in fact variations on this argument from ability. Thus, the proposal that human life begins when the fetus becomes "viable," or capable of surviving outside of the womb, is a subset of the ability argument that gives conclusive weight to the suite of abilities required for survival independent of the mother. Similarly, the common argument that embryos are human when they are in the womb of the mother (where they can develop into babies), while embryos generated in the laboratory are not, is also a variation on the ability argument that equates developmental ability with human life and worth.

While the argument from ability is less superficial than the argument from form alone, it is no less problematic. As noted above, functional definitions have been repeatedly rejected as a legal basis for the definition of death, in part due to their arbitrary nature. One can certainly identify any number of elderly and disabled people who are less functionally adept than newborn infants—and perhaps even late-term fetuses. While Western culture has a strong tradition of meritocracy, providing greater economic and social rewards to those who demonstrate greater achievement, basic human rights are not meted out according to performance. Unless we are willing to assign "personhood" proportionate to ability (young children, for example, might be only 20 percent human, while people with myopia 95 percent), the limited abilities of prenatal humans are irrelevant to their status as human beings.

The final and perhaps the most emotionally compelling argument for assigning human status to a developing embryo is the extent to which parents desire a child. Yet the argument from being wanted, which equates status as a human being with the desire of a second party who has the power to confer or deny that status, essentially reduces the definition of a human being to a matter of preference. You are human because I choose to view you that way. The fact that human status can be positively conferred for "wanted" embryos as well as denied for the "unwanted" illustrates the fundamental arbitrariness of this argument. The preferences of individuals who possess the power to impose them on others are hardly a compelling basis for legislation on human life.

Despite the apparent diversity of views regarding when human life begins, the common arguments thus reduce to three general classes (form, ability, and preference), all of which are highly subjective and impossible to reconcile with our current legal and moral view of postnatal human worth. It is, in fact, the subjectivity and inconsistency of these views, rather than their diversity, that makes them so unsatisfying as a basis for legislation on human life.

Unlike other definitions, understanding human life to be an intrinsic property of human organisms does not require subjective judgments regarding "quality of life" or relative worth. A definition based on the organismal nature of human beings acknowledges that individuals with differing appearance, ability, and "desirability" are, nonetheless, equally human. It is precisely the objective nature of such a definition (compared to vague "quality of life" assessments) that has made organismal function so compelling a basis for the legal definition of death.

Once the nature of human beings as organisms has been abandoned as the basis for assigning legal personhood, it is difficult to propose an alternative definition that could not be used to deny humanity to virtually anyone. Arguments that deny human status to embryos based on form, ability, or choice can be readily turned against adult humans who have imperfect form, limited ability, or who simply constitute an inconvenience to more powerful individuals or groups. Indeed, such arguments can be quite protean in their ability to deny rights to anyone not meeting an arbitrary criterion for humanity. Abraham Lincoln made this very point regarding arguments based on form, ability, and choice that were put forth in his day to justify the institution of slavery:

It is color, then; the lighter having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet with a fairer skin than your own.
You do not mean color exactly? You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore, have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet with an intellect superior to your own.
But, say you, it is a question of interest; and, if you can make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you.

Postnatal humans run very little risk that embryos will someday organize politically to impose restrictions on the rights of "the born." However, once society has accepted a particular justification for denying rights to one class of individuals, the same justification can readily be applied to other classes by appealing to the simple argument: "Society has already determined that form, ability, or preference defines human life and thereby restricts human rights. Why should the same standard not be applied in this case?" In American society and jurisprudence, arguments from accepted precedent carry great emotional and legal force. Society must determine whether it is willing to accept the current subjective and arbitrary basis for determining the status of prenatal human beings as a legitimate precedent for future legislation on human rights.

Embryos are genetically unique human organisms, fully possessing the integrated biologic function that defines human life at all stages of development, continuing throughout adulthood until death. The ability to act as an integrated whole is the only function that departs from our bodies in the moment of death, and is therefore the defining characteristic of "human life." This definition does not depend on religious belief or subjective judgment. From the landmark case of Karen Ann Quinlan (1976) on, the courts have consistently upheld organismal function as the legal definition of human life. Failure to apply the same standard that so clearly defines the end of human life to its beginning is both inconsistent and unwarranted.

The conclusion that human life is defined by integrated (organismal) function has wide-reaching implications, both political and moral. While the public domain has limited authority to promote morality, it does have both the power and the responsibility to prevent harm to individuals. A consistent definition of what constitutes human life, both at its beginning and at its end, requires that current legislation dealing with prenatal human life be considered in light of both biological fact and accepted legal precedent regarding the definition of human life. If current legislation enables and supports the killing of human beings based on a scientifically flawed understanding of human life, laws can and should be revised. Clearly, such a revision would not be without political cost. Yet allowing life-or-death decisions to be based on arbitrary or capricious definitions is also a course of action that is not without considerable social and moral cost.

Dr. Maureen L. Condic is an Assistant Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Utah, currently conducting research on the regeneration of embryonic and adult neurons following spinal cord injury.

 

 

 


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: life
Are unborn children human beings? Are they persons? No doubt about it. The following essays argue the pro-life case...

Some abortion advocates are willing to concede that unborn children are human beings. Surprisingly enough, they claim that they would still be able to justify abortion. According to their argument, no person-no unborn child-has a right to access the bodily resources of an unwilling host. Unborn children may have a right to life, but that right to life ends where it encroaches upon a mother's right to bodily autonomy. The argument is called the bodyright argument.

What many people fail to realize is that most of the arguments used to justify killing unborn children could be used with just as much force to justify killing newborn children and, in some cases, even full-grown adults.


ED : Respect Life Curriculum Guidelines

Below are excerpts from the first 12 pages of the 108 page document Respect Life Curriculum Guidelines. It was published in 1977 by the Department of Education, United States Catholic Conference of Bishops.
The purpose of making these excerpts available here:
Primarily to advance the common sense logic that if we want to create a culture of life we should properly educate our children-- starting when they are very young, about the sanctity of life. These Guidelines are an authoritative work and should be faithfully implemented.
Abortion was "legalized" in the Soviet Union in 1920. China followed suit about a decade later. Great Britain "legalized" abortion in 1954. Nineteen short years later, Roe v Wade was decided. The major Christian Church's were aware of what was spreading throughout the world, and had 50+ years of advanced warnings. Even with these Guidelines available since 1977, students today are woefully ignorant of the battle between the cultures of life and death.
The spirit in the schools of one generation, is the spirit in the Government of the next.
The Missing Key of the Pro-Life Movement covers pro-life education thoroughly. It faithfully builds upon the bishops Guidelines, offering more evidence as to why comprehensive education beginning in kindergarten and lasting through high school and into adulthood is going to be necessary in order to defeat the culture of death.


Death as Deliverance: Euthanatic Thinking in Germany ca. 1890-1933 Writing in 1989, the late Cardinal John O'Connor of New York City, an ardent pro-life advocate, predicted that euthanasia would "dwarf the abortion phenomenon in magnitude, in numbers, in horror." When one considers the sheer number of abortions that are performed each year and that have been performed over the last two decades, this statement borders on fantastic. But Cardinal O'Connor's are not the words of someone given to exaggeration. While there is nothing inevitable about human predictions, O'Connor's words are haunting. What is it that can hinder this "prophecy" from coming to pass?

1 posted on 05/25/2003 2:32:09 PM PDT by Remedy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Cicero; cpforlife.org; MHGinTN; hocndoc
  1. We now know, basically, that a fetus is alive and, of course, is human. By most definitions, an unborn baby is a person. But if Bork and the conservatives on the court don't see it that way, we have some persuading to do. 3 posted on 02/23/2003 8:22 PM EST by Cicero
  2. disenfranchisement by tacit agreement will be applied to embryonic and fetal individual human beings, in order to legally exploit individual humans for their body parts ... cannibalism is about to be convention in our twisted, 'amoral' society. 9 posted on 02/23/2003 9:48 PM EST by MHGinTN
  3. Someone should remind the justices that the life cycle of the human species is well known. Like all mammals, it begins at fertilization.17 posted on 02/24/2003 12:19 AM EST by hocndoc

2 posted on 05/25/2003 2:40:28 PM PDT by Remedy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Remedy
Hypnotize a person and regress them to their infancy, then to their time in the womb as a fetus and as an embryo, going back week by week, then day by day, then hour by hour, minute by minute...until you can't go back any further and see if it coincides with the approximate date of conception.
3 posted on 05/25/2003 2:47:56 PM PDT by Consort
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Remedy
After watching a fetal operation to cure spinal bifida I am truly convinced that life begins at conception. I wish more people could be made to watch this film. The surgery was done at 24 weeks and the leg at the knee was shown as well as the fully developed hand of the baby. He was born 10 weeks later at 34 weeks and is doing very well. Try and tell his parents he was not alive that day.

In addition one child was born at the time of the surgery and did live! I believe he was 3 when they showed him again, doing well and no brain swelling. Almost able to walk but still in need of braces. Developing slow but doing excellant by all accounts considering how traumatic his entry into the world outside the womb was.

Amazing science at work.
4 posted on 05/25/2003 2:57:57 PM PDT by alisasny
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Consort
Fetal Psychology

Behaviorally speaking, there's little difference between a newborn baby and a 32-week-old fetus. A new wave of research suggests that the fetus can feel, dream, even enjoy The Cat in the Hat. The abortion debate may never be the same.

As if overturning the common conception of infancy weren't enough, scientists are creating a startling new picture of intelligent life in the womb. Among the revelations:


5 posted on 05/25/2003 2:59:02 PM PDT by Remedy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Consort
There is no clock watching in the womb, silly
6 posted on 05/25/2003 3:02:01 PM PDT by drlevy88
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Remedy
Then my idea might be worth trying.
7 posted on 05/25/2003 3:10:46 PM PDT by Consort
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Consort
Then my idea might be worth trying in a hollywood sci fi.
  1. Ankerberg Theological Research Institute - The John Ankerberg ...
  2. False Memory Syndrome Recommended Books, Videos, and Reports

8 posted on 05/25/2003 3:32:56 PM PDT by Remedy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Remedy
bttt
9 posted on 05/25/2003 3:59:59 PM PDT by MoralSense
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Consort
No, your 'idea' is founded in an assumption that the brain organ is the primary defining form with which to convey the status of human being. You would define the organism based on the functioning of the organ, the brain. The entire point of the brilliantly constructed essay is that the coordinated whole of the organism is what defines human being status and it is the coordinated wholeness that is gone when death is scientifically declarable. As you know, the brain is a coordinated functioning organ of the organism only after birth, by several months if the perspective is language acquisition.

The ability to act as an integrated whole is the only function that departs from our bodies in the moment of death, and is therefore the defining characteristic of "human life."

10 posted on 05/25/2003 4:35:54 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: MHGinTN
I was basing my idea in the possibility that the human mind in any given lifetime knows itself from conception to the death, at a minimum. I was differentiating the non-physical mind from the physical brain. Our selfness spans our lifetimes.
11 posted on 05/25/2003 4:44:48 PM PDT by Consort
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Remedy
Remedy, a few years ago, when I learned of the extensive fetal tissue/fetal body harvesting industry (which is now well over a billion dollar buisness), I tried to find a law firm or pro-life lawyer willing to sue any abortion clinic that provided fetal body tissue to the harvesting/selling industry on the grounds that the willing consent was not in order since there is absolutely no address to the issue of dead or alive for the individual from whom the body parts are to be or have been harvested for sale and or exploitation. As the following paragraph so amply notes, the assumption of alive must be over-ridden before organ harvesting may proceed legally.

      The ability to act as an integrated whole is the only function that departs from our bodies in the moment of death, and is therefore the defining characteristic of "human life." This definition does not depend on religious belief or subjective judgment. From the landmark case of Karen Ann Quinlan (1976) on, the courts have consistently upheld organismal function as the legal definition of human life. Failure to apply the same standard that so clearly defines the end of human life to its beginning is both inconsistent and unwarranted.

I have yet to find a legal representative willing to approach the exposure of this glaring inconsistency where fetal tissue harvesting and exploitation of only moments before alive individual human beings occurs. The very acts performed prior to the killing and harvesting evidence the truth that the process of exploitation of body parts begins well before the assualt and killing ... the harvesters are allowed to view the files and physical characteristics of the human host with in utero child, prior to the abortion, to determine which specimens are most desireable. Since there is no death certificate, no proof that the little one was dead when harvested, the very distinct possibility arises that an alive individual human being of fetal age can be send on ice to the requesting research facilities. Does it happen? I don't have proof of such, but the very possibility is not eliminated with the current procedural methodology which assumes falsely that the harvested source is in fact dead (because the assumption is made arbitrarily that the source was not alive to begin with). The same fallacy in assumption without proof is the basis upon which embryological aged individual human beings are and will be exploited for their body parts.

12 posted on 05/25/2003 4:50:16 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Consort
From a recently FR posted essay:
      "Touted as a boon to infertile couples, the in vitro fertilization process manipulated sex cells in a lab environment, conceived multiple embryos to be implanted in a woman’s uterus, stored excess embryos … and the process redefined the earliest age of an individual’s lifetime as but one stage ‘in a process that eventually becomes a human being’. So, where was the error in reasoning first made?

      Sex cells are sub-units of organs; organs are sub-units of organisms; embryos are whole organisms. That was so quick, allow me to reiterate: cells are sub-units of organs, organs are sub-units of organisms; an individual human being is an organism; a kidney, for instance, is an organ of an organism.

      In vitro fertilization manipulates, first, sex cells … sub-units of sex organs, organs of the parents. But if successful, in vitro fertilization conceives a whole, new organism … not just an organ, the whole organism! As the embryo grows, with the cell total climbing from one, to two, to three, to five, etc., the early cells are totipotent or pluripotent--less differentiated into the individual organs of the organism--thus the early cells are the organs of the individual begun with ‘petri dish’ conception, the assertions of Senator Orrin Hatch notwithstanding."

13 posted on 05/25/2003 4:55:54 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Remedy
read later
14 posted on 05/25/2003 4:59:16 PM PDT by LiteKeeper
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Consort
Hypnotism assumes mind as a recorder of events held within the subconsious, thus your reliance upon hypnosis would be dependant upon the brain as the organ of greatest worth, the seat of the 'recorder'. From a purely biologically consistent perspective, mind is a function of brain, as opposed to reproduction or digestion or elimination. Before the brain functions as a recorder, what would be the 'location'/locus of awareness that would be tapped with hypnosis of the brain? See the paradoxical circle you're suggestion would entail?
15 posted on 05/25/2003 5:04:44 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: blam; Alamo-Girl; backhoe; Woahhs; Victoria Delsoul; William Wallace; f.Christian; Bryan; ...
(((PING)))))) to a very important read! Please, read this vital essay.
16 posted on 05/25/2003 5:07:46 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Remedy; Cicero; cpforlife.org; MHGinTN; hocndoc; Coleus
Since we are on the subject:

Morally acceptable Organ
Donation and Transplantation:
And Catholic Church teaching


By Richard Mahoney, Founder
NATIONAL AMERICAN HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL
http://www.cpforlife.org/memorial

Actual Page is http://cpforlife.org/id87.htm

In conformity with sacred biblical teaching in conjunction with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, I will explain why the donation of vital organs is prohibited and immoral. Our Lord tells us in sacred scripture that "the life is in the blood" (Genesis 9 and Leviticus 17). Physiologically the fundamental building blocks of the human person are at the cellular level. Each cell within the body receives the oxygen and biochemical nutrients it needs for cellular metabolism through the blood. When perfusion (blood flow) ceases at the cellular level, whether through cardiopulmonary arrest, cardiopulmonary insufficiency, shock, exsanguination, etc. and the cells are no longer supplied with blood, metabolic acidosis ensues. For a certain time period this respiratory and/or metabolic acidosis is reversible by re-establishing ventilation and sufficient blood flow (perfusion) to the cells and vital organs. This is the basis of CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support). A person, who arrives at a medical center in cardiac arrest and asystole and is resuscitated, was not dead and then brought back to life. The CPR and ACLS merely re-established adequate perfusion to the cells and vital organs before such an extensive ischemia and necrosis takes place as to make it irreversible (persistent irreversible catabolic state). Physiologically, death is an irreversible catabolic state leading to total cellular necrosis of the entire human body. Spiritually, death is the separation of body and soul. When the soul, which inhabits and animates the human person, no longer has a living organism to embody, it leaves the body and goes to its Creator.


Having thus laid the most basic premises of human physiology, life and death, we will now expose the falsehood and immorality of epivalothanasia (the Greek word for "imposed death") and euthanasia. In organ transplantation the donor's organs are taken while their heart is still beating and their vital organs adequately perfused. The donor is not only alive while his organs are being excised for transplantation, physiologically his organs are very healthy and in good shape. Historically over the past 40 years, in order to justify abortion and epivalothanasia, the American Medical Association has redefined the beginning of life, from the moment of conception to the moment of nidation (implantation) and has redefined death as a cerebral phenomena which they have coined "brain dead". In so doing, the vast majority of the medical establishment has chosen the "quality of life" ethic over the "sanctity of life" ethic. Initially they used cerebral electroencephalographic activity as a measure of classification. Currently, medical institutions have been using a Glascow Coma Scale as a criterion for organ donation. A human being's worth or quality of life even after a severe cerebral trauma (subdural hematoma, subarachnoid hemorrhage or ventricular bleed, etc.), pathology or anomaly cannot justify any "death dealing excision" of his vital organs. In the worst case scenario, although a medullary or pontine infarct would precipitate nearly immediate fatal demise, to excise organs while a person is alive is murder. To use a utilitarian philosophy to promote or actuate the death of a human person is heinous and immoral. The Church teaches that the donation of non-vital organs that would not cause death or debilitation of the donor is allowable as well as certain tissues such as corneas, bone and skin, which can still be useful for donation even after death.


In conclusion Pope John Paul II reminds us "Neither human life nor the human person can ever be treated as an object to be manipulated or as a disposable commodity; rather each human being at every stage of existence, from conception to natural death, is endowed by God with a sublime dignity that demands the greatest respect in vigilance on the part of individuals, communities, nations and international bodies". Father John Powell states in his book Abortion: The Silent Holocaust, "The problem of birth control and birth selection are extended inevitably to death selection and death control whether by the individual or by society". Quoting Malcolm Muggeridge, "We will not recognize the true value of our own lives until we affirm the value in the lives of others; however low it flickers or fiercely burns, it is still a Divine Flame which no man dare to presume to put out, be his motives ever so humane and enlightened".



Richard Mahoney, RRT CPT

17 posted on 05/25/2003 5:11:20 PM PDT by cpforlife.org (“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: MHGinTN
"(((PING)))))) to a very important read! Please, read this vital essay."

Thanks for the ping but, I don't get into these discussions, there's usually too many hurt feelings afterwards.

18 posted on 05/25/2003 5:16:00 PM PDT by blam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: MHGinTN; Coleus; Remedy; nickcarraway; Mr. Silverback; Canticle_of_Deborah; ...

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

19 posted on 05/25/2003 5:22:20 PM PDT by cpforlife.org (“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: MHGinTN
Hypnosis plays back the cellular memory from day one of conception. The recorder is the brain that is mature enough to be hypnotized so that all data can be accessed.
20 posted on 05/25/2003 5:28:05 PM PDT by Consort
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: alisasny
Baby's Hand Reaches out of the Womb

http://members.aol.com/dfjoseph/babyhand.html

http://www.michaelclancy.com/
21 posted on 05/25/2003 5:37:58 PM PDT by Coleus (God is Pro Life and Straight)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Consort
I remain 'unconvinced' that hypnosis is so encompassing as to be dealing with 'cellular memory'. Sorry ...
22 posted on 05/25/2003 5:40:37 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: MHGinTN; cpforlife.org
Thanks so much for pinging me to this excellent essay.
23 posted on 05/25/2003 5:50:43 PM PDT by Victoria Delsoul
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: MHGinTN
Interesting but you know I don't need convincing. I know when life begins, it begins at conception.
24 posted on 05/25/2003 5:54:33 PM PDT by jwalsh07
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Remedy
Pro-life bump!
25 posted on 05/25/2003 6:25:10 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Remedy
All this will soon be moot. The time is coming when maybe 30% of births will be natural, the rest will be in vitro or whatever. Beyond this, The Matrix Reloaded doesn't begin to show what is coming, and some of it is here already and some more is beginning. Schools won't teach subjects but will produce gov't-approved dispositions. The gov't will drug those pupils who are having trouble adapting to the social environment. Oh, nevermind, it's happening already.
26 posted on 05/25/2003 6:34:28 PM PDT by RightWhale (Theorems link concepts; proofs establish links)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: jwalsh07
The important point so well characterized with this essay is that the way science/medicine already defines the end of life--end of coherency for the ORGANISM-- is not being applied tot he beginning, when it would clearly hold the first evidence of cell division (mitosis) to prove that an individual human ORGANISM is present and expressing itself in coherency.

From the essay: "The ability to act as an integrated whole is the only function that departs from our bodies in the moment of death, and is therefore the defining characteristic of 'human life'." Scientifically, the embryo behaves as an integrated whole!

27 posted on 05/25/2003 7:17:59 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Remedy
Excellent article!
28 posted on 05/25/2003 9:27:45 PM PDT by Frank_2001
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: MHGinTN
Great read.
29 posted on 05/25/2003 9:41:25 PM PDT by WilliamWallace1999
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Consort
Don't use hypnosis as proof of anything. If you keep "going back", people start to go back to previous lives. This phenomenon is used by those that believe in reincarnation as "proof" of their prior lives. I personally think it is just delving into a collective memory and fantasy worlds.
30 posted on 05/25/2003 9:44:54 PM PDT by WilliamWallace1999
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: WilliamWallace1999
That past life thing sounds interesting.
31 posted on 05/25/2003 9:50:13 PM PDT by Consort
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: Remedy
Here goes: My opinion: Life begins at conception.

Euthanasia is something I am totally against. One concern I have is how do we know at what point a person is really brain dead for ever, and when the medical professional wants the old useless person gone to harvest the organs?
32 posted on 05/25/2003 9:51:46 PM PDT by ladyinred (Freedom isn't free, remember our fallen heroes)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: ladyinred
See #17
33 posted on 05/25/2003 10:26:28 PM PDT by cpforlife.org (“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: MHGinTN
Thanks for the heads up!
34 posted on 05/25/2003 10:47:00 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: MHGinTN
BTTT!!!!!
35 posted on 05/26/2003 5:36:54 AM PDT by E.G.C.
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Consort
Just do a Google search on "hypnosis and past lives" and you will find a plethora of granola nuts.
36 posted on 05/26/2003 6:56:46 AM PDT by WilliamWallace1999
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: WilliamWallace1999
Having studied Jungian Psychology, I still don't quite fathom the mechanism of 'collective memory' (collective unconscious/realm of archetypes). I would cede the point of fantasy in hypnotic regression ... I don't see any 'recorder' evidence to carry the 'meme' back beyond coherent brain function. IOW, how does the DNA molecule act as recorder for something other than anatomical/physiological imperatives? Thought, and thus memory, is more than the sum of the 'physiological parts', perhaps in a way similar to quantum 'non-locality'; it's still well beyond my 'theorization-grade'.
37 posted on 05/26/2003 7:32:21 AM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: Remedy
BRAVO ! BRAVO ! BRAVO !

The materialists will be hoisted on their own petard, the material truth and evidence of life !

38 posted on 05/26/2003 8:44:00 AM PDT by happygrl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: MHGinTN
"Having studied Jungian Psychology, I still don't quite fathom the mechanism of 'collective memory'"

I was also forced to study it and thought most of it was a bit out in left field. I would point out that some lower animals seem to have an instictual memory that is independent of learning. I would suppose this is indirect evidence of some type of DNA memory, but this is WAY beyond my area of learning. Just seem strange that one can regress and find al least the impression of a prior life.
39 posted on 05/26/2003 3:55:14 PM PDT by WilliamWallace1999
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: ladyinred
My opinion: Life begins at conception.

It's not just an opinion. It's an ontological and scientific fact. All individuals' lives begin at their conception.

Cordially,

40 posted on 05/27/2003 7:32:06 AM PDT by Diamond
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: MHGinTN
Thanks for the ping, and a pro-life BTTT.
41 posted on 05/27/2003 10:37:28 AM PDT by Cordova Belle
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Remedy
Bump and read later
42 posted on 05/27/2003 10:33:42 PM PDT by victim soul
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Remedy
thanks for posting this essay. I read it in First Things just recently and was considering posting it myself until I saw that you had beaten me to it.

All the time, I hear people say you have to be "religious" to be pro-life. Usually, they mean by this statement 1) that pro-lifers are driven to their views by specific religious commands or doctrines and 2) that pro-life positions cannot be defended on a strictly rational or scientific grounds. While most pro-lifers are religious (like me), it is a rank falsity to say that one must be religious to be pro-life. Additionally, I find the subtextual argument that religious arguments are irrational per se to be quite offensive.

That said, I think that this essay is a wonderfully concise and clearly rational defense for viewing life as beginning at conception. Consequently, it occurs to me that this essay could be a powerful tool in convincing non-religious types that abortion is a moral evil.
43 posted on 07/10/2003 11:42:39 AM PDT by bourbon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson