Wednesday, August 30, 2006

When do you say life begins?

I know this is a pretty heavy topic, but it all comes down to only five points of view. I think much of what divides us on life issues could be better dealt with if we had a handle on this. We have many different issues that need to tackle this question. Issues like abortion and stem cell research come to mind almost immediately. Generally speaking, you will find the battle lines usually get drawn around religion. Let us set religion a side for the moment and look at the five points of view that actually drive the debate.

First, there are those who believe that life begins when the egg and sperm come together. Their combined information sets cell division in motion and what will ultimately be something new, begins. Yet, is that where life begins? This activity seems to have some independents, but it can not complete its task without some help.

Second are those who believe that life begins when the fertilized egg implants itself in the uterine wall. At this point the egg hooks into the supply line to feed that which has begun. This egg is not much different than those of the first group accept that it has found a source that will help it to complete its mission. Does this act of determination, make it the beginning of life?

Third, there are those who believe that life can only be so claimed when it can be sustained with some level of independence outside the womb. These same often allow for whatever medical intervention is available. Currently we are seeing survival as early as 20 weeks. Does the ability to exist away from the mother declare the start of life? What if science allows for even earlier separation? Is the definition of life fluid?

Fourthly, are those who believe that birth alone represents the defining moment. As long as the child remains inside the mother its dependence denies it the declaration of life. Some would even argue against major medical intervention. Does full independence allow life to be declared?

Finally, there are those who simply don’t care. They simply look at things from a “What’s in it for me?” point of view. They made the cut and see little use for others or this debate that rages. If there is a net positive for them that life is to be so declared, they would be all for it.


These five different perspectives on the beginning of life often move the debate all over the map. Once you get an angle on one group, you will find yourself at odds with another. The debate often lacks clarity because all sides toss it around at the same time. Often the debaters themselves haven’t decided where they fit.

Looking over these five groups you could see where the first and second group could easily be brought together. I think even with a little work and some advances in science, the third group would throw in with the first two. The last two groups will often come together, but their unity is complex. The abortion crowd can be found in these last two. The embryonic stem cell research crowd usually comes from the last three.

This is indeed a tough debate, but defining the players makes it easier to handle. First, you got to decide where you fit. Then when you find yourself in one of these awkward debates, try and get the other person to choose a position. It’s a lot easier to debate a fixed position then one as fast and mobile as this one.

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1 Comments:

Blogger A Jacksonian said...

Well, the SCOTUS did us the nice job of giving us a means test for this so I suggest we take them up on it. For everything. A State can say that for due process to be evenly applied the status of Citizen is now dependent upon gestational growth and sustainability of life outside the womb. As the Constitution gives States the Right to set Citizenship and since the SCOTUS has ruled that gestational development is a reasonalbe test, end the argument and USE IT for Citizenship. Want an abortion? Demonstrate the log of sexual partners and timing and when you first recognized your pregnancy... otherwise a panel of physicians will have to decide where you are in gestation.

Why is that important? Because that is true murder of a Citizen past that gestational period. I fall in group 3 a bit but mostly in 5, as you put it, but see no reason that Group 1 and 2 should *not* have to actually prove their point and make life sustainable at those points they are asserting. No, I would say almost wholly in group 5 by now...

By applying a Citizenship standard individuals are *accountable* for their sexual activity. You can still *get* an abortion if you have good records and the physician examining the individual pre-abortion uses gestational means to verify this. Put in a two week window on the viability *before* it, and you now have a method to ensure that murder is not committed via abortion.

Falsifying of records has all the standards that go with *that* and you can expect your *partner's* records to be needed also. Multiple partners are weeded out by gestation and amniocentesis.

Incomplete or non-existant records? See three certified OB/GYN and get their probable dates for development.

Individuals have rights, and they have responsibilities. This puts Constitutionally valid enforcement on both via equal protection. If this had been taken after Roe v Wade, who knows how much research into fetal development and sustainment would have been done by all of those people who fervently believe life begins at conception or implantation. Many, many lives would have been saved in that by finding causes for birth defects and other developmental problems that *still* plague pregnancy. And, once you get the sustainability period down to the window period, it would not matter as you would then have exacting means for finding out on exactly *which* day a women got pregnant. That is what the technology would head towards, and in this up and coming era of 'labs on a chip' we will get that... but have to start all the basic research upon it once that is here, instead of driving it that way.

No, put me almost completely and wholly in group 5. The debate has poisoned the National discourse and fractured into other realms by politicians looking for 'wedge' issues. And neither of the 'sides' can see the point of a different position... vexed one or the other group that wanted to poll me and told them I was neither pro-life or pro-choice. The poller said: "You haven't made up your mind? Undecided?"

"No." I replied, "My decision does not fit within your limited scope of the question or the concept."

That was a grand day for Dumb Looks... even over the phone... *sigh*

12:58 PM, September 02, 2006  

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