Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Embryo and fetus: tissue or unborn human?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (22082 points ) February 26th, 2010

I don’t know about the rest of the world but in the US it seems when a baby is a baby and when it isn’t is quite nebulous in interpretation. If I killed a pregnant woman I could be charged for 2 deaths, but if she ended her pregnancy, nothing, it was just tissue or some foreign matter getting in the way of her life.

Is a baby or is it really just tissue to start? To find that out I have developed the “tadpole test”, those of you who don’t agree I am sure interested in your logic
that say different from that.

If you have a frog, we will call the Extincto Frog because there are only 200 or so mating pairs left in the world. Government steps in and declared then endangered, and forbid the killing or harming of any of these frogs. Now, the frog goes through different stages on the course of becoming a frog. An egg cluster, then a tadpole, then a legged tadpole until, wah la, an Extincto Frog which hopefully will grow, mate and perpetuated the species. But lets say the wording of the law protecting this frog had a loophole, what if it did not include the tadpole. What if it was known in certain circles that the Extincto Frog tadpoles was very good at catching bass and sturgeon, so people ventured out in to the wetlands and territory of the Extincto Frogs gathering up these tadpoles to use as bait. What would happen to the frog with the elimination of the tadpole? Logic would say no tadpoles, no frogs; seeing the frogs come from tadpoles.

Now, if an embryo or a fetus is just tissue you would be able to transplant it into another woman if compatible…….oops, that is not possible. But why is that? You can transplant nearly every other organ (which is just tissue) in the body; spleen, lungs, cornea, skin, etc. Tissue that changes within the body more than not is cancerous. Well a fetus is not cancer……at least I never heard it called that. Tissue does not anytime evacuate from the body after a set time. If anyone knows of a ling, kidney, gall bladder, etc, that expels it self from the body at a pre determined time please chime up.

If the embryo and the fetus are just tissue, if every woman from here on out decided to get rid of this “tissue” would mankind still move forward or eventually become extinct? How can the fetus and the embryo not be as the tadpole is to the frog? How is it not just a stage of life? It may take place within the body unlike the tadpole but how can you keep having humans without them?

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103 Answers

MrBr00ks's avatar

Flamebait.

dpworkin's avatar

This is essentially a religious question, and cannot be answered either empirically or logically. I think it is best to acknowledge that beliefs differ on this issue, and until something can be proven, no particular belief should rule other people’s behavior.

Vunessuh's avatar

Piglet.

Qingu's avatar

It’s not a religious question. In fact the Bible, in Exodus 21:22, suggests that a fetus is not equivalent to a human, since killing a fetus only results in a fine, whereas killing or harming a human (such as its mother) results in “eye for an eye” punishment.

I also think the question of whether it’s “tissue” is irrelevant. Tissue is defined as a group of identical cells that work together. So no, it’s not tissue. It’s not an organ, or a system. It’s an embryo.

That’s not the question. The question is, “is an embryo morally equivalent to human life?”

My answer is not without consciousness. The reason we value human life, fundamentally, is because humans are capable of thought, and suffering. This is also the reason we value intelligent animal life. But if something has no brain—like a plant—we do not think twice about “killing” it.

Until the last trimester, embryos do not have brains. Early development embryos do not even have nervous systems. I utterly fail to see why a brainless, thoughtless clump of cells that has no ability to think or suffer should be treated the same as a thinking, feeling human being. The only reason you would think that, as far as I can tell, is if you think some sort of magical “soul” gets imparted onto the zygote upon conception.

dpworkin's avatar

Prove it doesn’t. Can’t? It’s a religious issue, ipso fatso.

Qingu's avatar

Also, @Hypocrisy_Central, I think your analogy with frogs on the verge of extinction is disengenuous.

The reason killing frog embryos would be wrong is because it would be preventing the survival of an endangered species. Humans are not endangered. Not even remotely. In fact, we are overpopulated to all hell. Culling our population, without actually harming conscious entities, would be a good thing.

To put it another way: the same moral dilemma with your frog can be arrived at by simply preventing them from having sex. You don’t even have to bring embryos into it. Is that an argument against abstinence, or birth control, for humans? (No.)

lilikoi's avatar

I stopped reading at “tadpole”. To compare a mammal to an amphibian in this respect is ludicrous.

Qingu's avatar

@dpworkin, prove what doesn’t?

Prove something without a brain or nervous system is not conscious?

Also, the idea that if we can’t “prove” something, it defaults into a “religious issue” is absolutely ludicrous. I suppose you think string theory and the mystery of how birds navigate in flight are religious issues?

dpworkin's avatar

Prove a magical soul doesn’t get imparted onto the zygote. I agree with you in all respects except the conceit that this topic lends itself to reason. It lends itself to hysteria, violence, anger, fear, faith and belief.

Qingu's avatar

@dpworkin, you are asking me to prove a magic soul doesn’t get imparted into the zygote?

What does that even mean?

What if I asked you to prove that there wasn’t a tiny teapot orbiting Alpha Centauri?

This is why we generally say the burden of proof is on the person making the positive or exceptional claim, and that it doesn’t make sense to ask someone to “prove a negative.”

lilikoi's avatar

You can’t just transplant organs from one body to another like moving bricks from one house to another. They have to be compatible. Often times, drugs are fed into the acceptor body to suppress the immune system so that the organ won’t be eaten up. Acceptance is not a simple matter. It doesn’t always work.

In the case of moving fetuses around from one body to the next, I’d imagine there would be this issue of immune response to the foreign body same as with organs, as well as the fact that the fetus is relying on the mother’s body for food – sever that line and what? A tricky business at best.

“Tissue that changes within the body more than not is cancerous.”
This sentence makes absolutely no sense to me.

If every woman that was pregnant decided to abort their pregnancy, the world population would stall for a moment. Then, a whole new wave of pregnant women would come along. Obviously if every woman decided to be a nun, the human population would eventually fizzle out but I certainly don’t see that happening ever – that would completely contradict everything we think we know about how the world works.

tinyfaery's avatar

Oh, please.

Next.

dpworkin's avatar

I have no belief in any such thing as a soul. I have no personal religion, because I believe these phenomena having to do with life are products of a blind, uncaring, chance-driven, contingent, temporal process.

I do believe, however, that these are religious questions. I don’t ask you to prove the non-existence of souls. I ask you to realize that to a lot of people, benighted as they may seem to you and me, these are matters of faith and belief, and not matters of fact.

As to when life begins, my own philosophy is that it doesn’t matter one whit, as it will be extinguished exceedingly quickly in any event, leaving no trace, when considered through the lens of our knowledge of deep time.

That having been said, if someone killed one of my children, I would be personally bereft and might want to kill the perpetrator. I know this is unreasonable, but Homo sum. Humani nil a me alienum puto.

Response moderated
usaloveorleaveit's avatar

Jer. 1:5 says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” Our Creator is telling us that we are more than just tissue. He’s validating the fact that we are a living being before during and after the womb.

DominicX's avatar

A human embryo is a human in the earliest stages of development, yes. Every organism goes through stages of development and an embryo is one of the earliest stages of a human in development. To deny that is silly.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Great question.

I always like to see how others avoid it by claiming “flame bait” or somehow “religious” when no mention of God was made until the answers started pouring in. I’m surprised the moderators don’t see that any suggestion of religion has nothing whatsoever to do with this Q and therefor should be removed on the grounds of diversionary to the subject at hand.

Back to the question at hand. A human is fully human at the very point that a unique DNA sequence is formed. This happens within hours of conception.

Countdown to human… 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, ding ding ding…!!!46 Chromosomes Makes A Human Being!!!… BINGO!*

faye's avatar

The brain begins to develop at week 5 in utero.

KatawaGrey's avatar

My personal criterion is that once the fetus can survive outside the womb, it is a human being. This is generally around the six month mark, although I have heard of premature babies surviving at only five months.

Also, a fetus/embryo/zygote/whatever is not simply one kind of tissue like an organ. It is many different kinds of tissues. It also needs many different kinds of tissues to continue to grow. If you could transfer the uterine lining, the placenta and the amniotic fluid and probably others but I am not a doctor so I don’t know then maybe the zygote/embryo/fetus/whatever would survive if there was a way to transfer all this.

Is a zygote/embryo/fetus/whatever human? Yes. It is tissue? Yes. It is human tissue but I believe that it is not a human being until it can survive outside the womb, as I stated above.

Point of interest: It wasn’t until about four hundred years ago that a Pope declared abortion at any point in pregnancy a sin. Before that, Catholics thought the soul entered around forty days after conception. Also, Muslims believe that the soul doesn’t enter the body until the third month of pregnancy so it is acceptable to have an abortion before that point.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

A 6 month old baby cannot survive outside the womb without the proper care either. Probably a 2, 3, 4 year old couldn’t either. If self sufficiency is the main criteria to being human, then let’s shut down all the old folks homes and let them die off and save the dime.

Self sufficiency is not a criteria for being human. And there are many different types of assistance that every human will receive throughout their lifetime inside and outside the womb.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies: I didn’t say there needed to be self sufficiency. Perhaps I should have specified that but somehow I thought no one would be stupid enough to misunderstand my meaning. How about this: “My personal criterion is that once the fetus can survive outside the womb with or without outside support, it is a human being.” How’s that?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

This might sound stupid, but what exactly is the difference in surviving inside the womb with or without support, and surviving outside the womb with or without support? The womb is still a form of support… no?

faye's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Gaah, you know what she meant!!

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

No, I really don’t. If the womb is nothing more than a form of life support, among the many others that all humans will receive during numerous phases of their lives, then what makes the womb any more of a criteria than the other forms of life support?

DarkScribe's avatar

Hell, a naughty thought could be regarded as an unborn human. You have to draw the line somewhere.

jerv's avatar

I think that the way you worded this question is a bit misleading in a non sequitor sort of way.

See, when there are only 200 maying pairs of a species, it means a lot more than when there are over 3 billion. That degree of relativity along pretty much reduces it to a value judgment as opposed to something that can be proven/backed empirically, just as a glass of water is worth a lot more to a guy in a desert than somebody doing laps in their in-ground pool.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies: Read my answers again. I specified outside the womb. I know you disagree with me. How about instead of using bad and misleading logic, you just say, “KatawaGrey, I disagree with you.”

Point is, @faye is right. You know exactly what I mean and are just trying to be difficult. Bravo, you have succeeded.

MrBr00ks's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies , I sidestepped nothing. The question in the way it is worded has indeed started a flamewar. As @KatawaGrey mentions above, perhaps you are having a hard time reading statements here, specifically the OP’s question.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@KatawaGrey

I understand what you said. I’m not trying to be difficult. I understand the criteria that you’ve drawn the line at. But you are avoiding answering my question. It’s a simple question to determine the reason why you draw the line at the womb, and why support inside or outside the womb is any different than any other life support.

You’ve stated your position… fine, I understand your position. I want to know how you came to hold that position. My question to you is not starting a flame war.

@KatawaGrey said:
“My personal criterion is that once the fetus can survive outside the womb, it is a human being.”

Why?

@KatawaGrey said:
“It is human tissue but I believe that it is not a human being until it can survive outside the womb, as I stated above.”

Why?

I’ve read through your question a dozen times and you never give a reason why? You seem to be offended that I’m even asking you why. It’s a non offensive question. How did you come to your conclusion that a human being is not a human being until it can survive outside of the womb?

I’ve given you the reason why I disagree with you. Can you give me a reason why you hold your position?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@MrBr00ks

Since when does asking someone to clarify the reason why they hold to a particular proposition constitute starting a flame war? What have I misread in the OP?

Why are certain question off limits?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@jerv said: “That degree of relativity along pretty much reduces it to a value judgment as opposed to something that can be proven/backed empirically, just as a glass of water is worth a lot more to a guy in a desert than somebody doing laps in their in-ground pool.”

So it follows that by your logic, an earthquake that kills 1,000 people in the US with a population of 304,059,724 is much more harmful than an earthquake that kills 1,000 people in China with a population of 1,325,639,982.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies THANK YOU! A person who actually read the question, and addressed it on its merits, and not got distracted on what they thought is asked. So many people, as you pointed out, digress or deviate from what is asked to invoke religion or flame bait, etc rather than making the case to support their stance. I would certainly not want them as my defense attorney they would simply say “He has a kind face and he is innocent, let my client go” and sit down. They get lost on making it a God issue or a tadpole issue because they have no argument or reason to address the similarity concept wise.

@Qingu “The question is, “is an embryo morally equivalent to human life?”
My answer is not without consciousness.“ OK, playing the “exact wording game” so long as a parson falls and hits his head an becomes unconscious, or brain dead seeming consciousness is the stated criteria of human I could blast him in the chest with a shot gun and if he dies I can’t be charged because he wasn’t human. Need I say more how crazy that sounds?

“To put it another way: the same moral dilemma with your frog can be arrived at by simply preventing them from having sex. You don’t even have to bring embryos into it.” The frog part was to show similarity that the process of a frog being a frog it doesn’t appear as the frog in the beginning. If you go off not believing the tadpole is not the frog then you can wipe out the tadpole and still have frogs, if they have nothing to do with each other. Second, if you did not want to frogs to mate it is almost impossible, we can’t even stop our own off spring from fornicating or maybe we just don’t care?

@lilikoi “To compare a mammal to an amphibian in this respect is ludicrous.” Of course, you missed the reason, it was not to equate humans with tadpoles wonder of you equate humans as off shoots of apes but to show that humans have a path to being the humans most believe as humans the same as frogs have a path to being frogs most see even when they do not appear as that in the beginning.

@jerv “See, when there are only 200 maying pairs of a species, it means a lot more than when there are over 3 billion. That degree of relativity along pretty much reduces it to a value judgment as opposed to something that can be proven/backed empirically, just as a glass of water is worth a lot more to a guy in a desert than somebody doing laps in their in-ground pool.” The pool analogy won’t work because the use of the water is different. Getting stuck on the frogs and not on the similarity of development in the sense that humans on the way to being humans go through a stage where they don’t LOOK LIKE humans, same as the frog. Getting lost on that is like speaking on that would be the same as not being able to follow a conversation about engine performance horse power wise because you keep thinking fuel economy.

MrBr00ks Spell it out, which wording do you feel in incendiary?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

yeah do you really wanna know? as if we hadn’t seen a million of these on fluther..come on, you know there is no answer – people will fiercely depend their opinion and that’s that.

dpworkin's avatar

Bingo! Give Simone her choice of prizes from the second shelf.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

There is absolutely nothing subjective about 46 chromosomes. 46 chromosomes is not an opinion. 46 chromosomes is an objective reality. Once that forms, you can ask any friendly neighborhood geneticist to confirm what it is. It will be confirmed by the geneticist down the road, and the next. It is considered objective evidence in any all all courts of law.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies you can walk around saying you’re nothing but 46 chromosomes – that’s fine..to me a human being is more than that.

dpworkin's avatar

But that’s what he believes, dolling. He has faith that he is right. Not that this has anything to do with religion.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@dpworkin no, heavens not – this is clearly about pure science..as all metaphysical discussions are.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies P.S. I will totally support you in the court of law if you go against the whole ‘corporations are seen as persons, legally’ bs.

janbb's avatar

You wanna know when life begins? Life begins when the dog dies and the kids leave home.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

My Q about corporations was based upon the shocking revelations presented in Maltby’s new book “Can they really do That?”. I’m as displeased about it as anyone. My argument against that specifically noted that corps should not be allowed to take a stance on public governance issues towards the individuals. But they do, and are thus unwittingly awarded personhood by default.

A small board of directors should have no more public voice than any other common citzen

There is nothing “metaphysical” about the physical reality of 46 chromosomes. They are a physical mechanism that says one thing and one thing only. Yours have @Simone_De_Beauvoir written all over them, in every cell of your body.

Sometimes I think mine say “Ass Hole”.

jerv's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Only slightly, but yes.
If you beg to differ then explain to my how nobody outside of the immediate area seems to care about the flood victims of Alstead NH yet many take pity on the flood victims of New Orleans. At least most of the people who lost homes in NO still have the land that the house was on.

BTW, I am not saying that it’s right, merely that that is the way it is.

@Hypocrisy_Central I think you missed my point. Sad to say, but it could be argued that human life isn’t worth nearly as much as it used to be.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies what makes a life a life and what makes one legally born, legally dead, legally human are all metaphysical questions sanctioned by the present time’s laws – all of these have shifted…one cell is not a human even if it has 46 chromosomes…I shed skin cells with 46 chromosomes in them on a daily basis.

jerv's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir True. Cancerous tumors could be counted as “human life” by some people’s logic, making cancer treatment akin to abortion.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@jerv

You are correct to note that people are generally concerned with their immediate condition more than anything else. Robert Anton Wilson calls it “The Reality Tunnel”. And you are correct to claim that it is not necessarily or morally right.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@jerv

Not at all, the cancer cell is a corruption of the genome. It attempts to turn a functioning human being into a non functioning human being. Cancer attacking a cell is nothing more than Information Entropy… Noise on the Line, preventing the very precise and extremely deterministic signal from being communicated properly. There is nothing “human” about cancer.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

Everything you say is correct. But those subjective perceptions throughout historical societies did not have the benefit of our modern digital and biological age of genetics. Where there once was no objective reality to base a foundation upon, subjectivity ruled the day. But the game has changed. We now do have an objective reality to base the foundation of our opinions upon. Shall we continue with our subjective opinions when an objective reality has been discovered? I think not.

The skin cells you shed are not a human being. But any court of law will fully consider them as an objective reference to a particular and very specific person hood. Thus, the person must exist upon the very moment meiosis is completed.

45 chromosomes = no person
46 chromosomes = person

BTW… I’m very much in favor of protecting a mother’s right to choose an abortion or not. I wouldn’t dream of standing in the way of that. I would hope she has considered all arguments for and against such a crucial and personal decision. But it is her decision to make and no one else’s. But if her decision is made purely on the notion of when a person is a person, then she should know that there is an objective physical reality to base her decision upon. No one should require her to face that reality. But no one should be required to deny that reality either.

neverawake's avatar

unborn baby.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies actually there are people with 45 chromosomes in their cells and people with 47…this is the most essentialist biological reductionist argument ever…chromosomes is but one tiny part.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I swore I wouldn’t get into this. I am going to nap now.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Point taken, sweet dreams… I might be headed there myself

Qingu's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central, people who are “brain dead” vegetables are not morally equivalent to human beings. Like embryos, they are wards of their family or (lacking that), close friends, who may decide whether or not to pull them from life support.

Obviously, shooting such a person would be wrong… if his or her caretakers did not allow it. Obviously, terminating a pregnancy against a mother’s will would be equally wrong.

And you’ve missed the point about the tadpoles and the frogs. The fact that tadpoles are, or are not, frogs is not germane to the discussion of whether it would be wrong to kill them. In the example, the “wrongness” comes from preventing this particular species from reproducing.

Qingu's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies, the cells in flakes of my dead skin have the same number of chromosomes as the cells of an unborn embryo. Does that make dead skin cells morally equivalent to a full-grown human being?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Qingu

As I said previously to Simone:
“The skin cells you shed are not a human being. But any court of law will fully consider them as an objective reference to a particular and very specific person hood. Thus, the person must exist upon the very moment meiosis is completed.”

PacificToast's avatar

@Qingu That scripture is from the old covenant. Under the new covenant humans are humans from the embryo stage to the elderly stage. A fetus does not become human, it is simply a human growing from the first stage.

candide's avatar

parasite?

DarkScribe's avatar

@PacificToast Under the new covenant humans are…

What new covenant?

PacificToast's avatar

@DarkScribe The one God made with his disciples that gives all people the chance to have a relationship with him and be forgiven for their sins. Not the old one in which animal sacrifices were required.

Qingu's avatar

@PacificToast, care to cite chapter and verse from the new covenant? (I don’t recall Jesus or Paul ever saying anything about embryos.)

Qingu's avatar

Also, are you saying that Jesus abolished the old covenant?

PacificToast's avatar

@Qingu I actually don’t, but I believe from my morals that humans do not become human, just as a frog does not become a frog. It is simply another stage of growing up. Jesus did not abolish the old covenant, it is simply not relevant anymore because God chose to make himself accessible to anyone from anywhere. Not simply by high priests that go behind the curtain.

Qingu's avatar

@PacificToast, okay, but let me get this straight, because you earlier just said that Jesus’ new covenant changed God’s law and effectively made abortion murder… but now you’re saying it’s just your personal moral belief?

Also, are you saying it would be wrong to follow the old covenant law? Because Jesus said that anyone who followed it, and taught others to do the same, would be called “greatest” in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17).

DarkScribe's avatar

@PacificToast the one God made with his disciples that gives all people the chance to have a relationship with him and be forgiven for their sins.

You call that NEW? Please don’t invite me over to your place for leftovers.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@PacificToast

How did this question become a religious debate?

dpworkin's avatar

It is inherently a religious debate.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Why? I’m debating the issue quite effectively with no mention of religion whatsoever. Is my position faulty because I don’t use a religious stance to base it upon? Can my position be argued against from a religious perspective?

jerv's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies The position that the sky is blue can be argued against from a religious perspective.

And @dpworkin has a point since it is practically impossible to answer a question like this without getting into the whole “What is human?” debate, and that is practically begging for someone to bring religion (or whatever moral/ethical views one has in place of religion) into it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies welcome. what else can it be?

DarkScribe's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies How did this question become a religious debate?

It is a question about ethics. Many people base their ethical standards on religious teaching and beliefs. What else did you expect?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

The OP made no mention of religion or God. My position makes no mention of religion or God. Many responses against my position make no mention of religion or God.

This subject is independent from any religion and all supposed Gods.

My argument is based purely upon objective scientific observation.

dpworkin's avatar

No matter how you phrase it, it is something that is not subject to experiment. It cannot be falsified, it cannot be replicated, it is not a matter of empirical fact. By sheer induction, that makes it a matter of belief, or faith. Do you prefer the word “belief” to the word “religion”? Fine, make the substitution. I won’t argue. That doesn’t change the meaning.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I don’t “believe” that DNA is what defines a human as a human for no other reason than my personal opinion. I “believe” it is so because it is widely accepted in the scientific community as being so. You’re not suggesting that Science is a religion are you?

PacificToast's avatar

@Qingu No I mean the Christian faith is my moral belief, to follow the old covenant would not be a sin, but to each his own for goodness sake. I never meant for this to become a religious debate, I simply wanted to state my opinion.

dpworkin's avatar

Dead people have no DNA? Hair follicles are human?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

No, they are not human. But the DNA within those objects refers to a specific person hood. Courts of Law rely upon this as empirical evidence.

dpworkin's avatar

But how do you distinguish hair follicle DNA from a human being, if all it takes is the right number of chromosomes? You argue out of both sides of your mouth. Hair ain’t a human being and neither is the blob of goo called a blastocyst.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

They both have a unique genetic code that refers to a specific person. One has been named Joey or Suzy, the other has not been named yet. But both genomes are completely intact, and they refer to a very specific person hood.

dpworkin's avatar

That sort of argument is called “Begging the Question”, and it is a rhetorical fallacy. Try something else. (See Petitio Principii )

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I don’t buy it, sorry. If the human genome is used to differentiate between human and other species, and between other humans, it is therefor a valid proposition to have it differentiate between person hood and non person.

dpworkin's avatar

OK, then the hair must be human. If you burn it with a cigarette you go to prison for life. (This fallacy is called reductio ad absurdum)

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

The hair is not human. But the genome it represents is fully human. The hair genome is a result of the original genome fully present within the blastocyst. One precludes the other.

dpworkin's avatar

:::Yawn:::

janbb's avatar

The point is that yes, DNA determines that the organism is human and its individual characteristics, but it is not a helpful model for determining when either viable or independent life begins. The issue with abortion is that there are conflicting perceptions about whose life it is, anyway? Does the state have the right to come in at any point and say that the blastocyst? embryo? fetus? unborn child? has more right to life than the woman who must carry and care for it? Or does the woman, up to a certain point, have the right to determine that she cannot or will not have this baby? And what point is that? It is a complicated issue and whether one looks at it scientifcally or religiously, core beliefs and hot buttons are going to be pushed. Personally, I’m in favor of a woman’s right to choose but I recognize that there are many others who believe otherwise. .

DominicX's avatar

“A fetus does not become human, it is simply a human growing from the first stage.”

Exactly.

By the way, I was not arguing that a fetus or an embryo deserves the same status as an infant or an adult or whatever, I was only claiming that it is ridiculous to claim that an embryo is not a human in its earliest stages. It will grow and you can see it.

Qingu's avatar

Again: I think the question of whether or not it’s human is not relevant. Or “alive” or an “individual.”

The question to ask is, “is it conscious?” Because consciousness forms the basis of any legitimate moral system.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Qingu

I’m glad you brought that up. Consciousness is definitely a worthy consideration when discussing when person hood exists. That’s one of the many reasons I’m so fond of Barbara McClintock’s work, and the numerous other researchers who are confirming and expanding upon it.

“A goal for the future would be to determine the extent of knowledge the cell has of itself, and how it utilizes this knowledge in a “thoughtful” manner when challenged.”
Barbara McClintock, Gifts of Speech
___________

”“Molecular genetics has amply confirmed McClintock’s discovery that living organisms actively reorganize their genomes (5). It has also supported her view that the genome can “sense danger” and respond accordingly (56).”
James Shapiro, A 21st Century View of Evolution
___________

”“It appears that the languages we were looking for, are, in fact, hidden in the 98%, “junk” DNA contained in our own genetic apparatus [4]. The basic principle of these languages is similar to the language of holographic images [5] based on principles of laser radiations of the genetic structures [6] which operate together as a quasi-intelligent system, as in [3] It particularly important to realize that our genetic devices actually perform real processes which supplement the triplet model of the genetic code.”
Graraev, Friedmann Crisis in Life Sciences. The Wave Genetics Response

Qingu's avatar

The sense the authors are using the words “intelligence” and “knowledge” to describe biological activity have absolutely nothing to do with consciousness as it’s being discussed in this thread. That’s nothing more than quote-mining and semantic games.

And if you actually believed that cells or junk DNA are conscious and therefore morally significant I would wonder what on earth you eat except water and salt.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Quote mining and semantics games don’t provide links to the actual research. The level of consciousness of a DNA molecule may not be the type that you expect, but some form of awareness is present nonetheless. Your argument is with these researchers, and more, but not with me.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies “How did this question become a religious debate?” I can tell you how questions like this become religious debates, those who have no game and no way to make their case resort to muddying the water or trying to bamboozle the issue by splitting hairs, shifting the argument to toads vs. humans, or some abortion issue etc. Surely these people could stay in point if they had any ammo to back what they believe, but they don’t. If a tadpole is biologically a frog in the beginning stages, an acorn is the oak, even when it is just a shoot no larger than a blade of grass or a weed. No where has they said why this tissue or non-human spontaneously becomes human. They try to equate a brain to being human, if the blastocyst and only it can miraculously can produce a human brain, this mass of tissue this blob of goo. Man that has to be as powerful a stuff as the bee’s royal jelly. They still have not said how this blob of goo called the blastocyst can produce a human and never a lung, spleen or heart but only a human? Neither have they showed how you can have frogs without tadpoles, butterflies without caterpillars, or oak trees without acorns etc. So what do they do? They try to hijack the question and make it a religion thing when no God or religion was mention only by them, or make it a legal argument of abortion, try to distance the human genome from actual humans and all other sort of gobblelygoop; because they have no game they can support with logic or fact.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central They try to hijack the question and make it a religion thing when no God or religion was mention only by them,

Gee, some people make life difficult. It is a question about ethics. It can be about nothing else or there would be no need for such a question. For some people, all matters relating to ethics are controlled, guided, biased, etc., by their religion. I am not one of them, I find the concept of an all powerful being on a permanent vacation laughable. I do understand that others regard any question related to ethics as an issue to be guided by their religious beliefs. There is no hijacking, no muddying of water, no hair splitting, just a different way of responding to the question.

If you can’t see that then you don’t understand the implications of the question. (As far as I am concerned, even some teenagers are nothing more than tissue.) Seriously, I regard life as existing once the fetus reaches “quickening”. Other see things differently. If you ask a question, you will get answers, sometimes many different answers, not support for your POV.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@DarkScribe “It is a question about ethics.” Oh no………..not at all. There was nothing said about morality of killing a fetus it was all about edifying people to the fact that humans have stages of development that may not appear as the human they consider.

“For some people, all matters relating to ethics are controlled, guided, biased, etc., by their religion.” Those people would not be trying to distance the fetus from being a human in early stages, that is by those who care not about religion but try to use it to cloud the issue lessening any appearance that sucking out this blob of goo –as some has said— is not terminating human life.

“I do understand that others regard any question related to ethics as an issue to be guided by their religious beliefs.” That I agree with you. Again, they should not be lost on this question because it is not an ethics question.

“If you ask a question, you will get answers, sometimes many different answers, not support for your POV.” I expect that, but I also expect those with a different POV to be able to logically explain or support their position. If they believe the blastocyst to be just a glob of goo or mass of tissue explain how it all of a sudden becomes a human? Explain why no other mass of tissue that grows in the body that happens not to be cancer don’t turn into a human? Explain to me why something that isn’t human becomes human don’t just say “oh, when the sperm met the egg is wasn’t human but as soon as the brain came then wah la, it is human”.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central

If a fetus is to be regarded as “tissue” then is most certainly is a question of ethics. No amount of obfuscation on your part will change that.

janbb's avatar

If this is no a question about when life begins and whether abortion is moral, why is it so important to you to discuss it? Why do you care whether some refer to “blobs of goo” or not? I think the sophistry and splitting hairs is on your part.

Qingu's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies, if you want to define “consciousness” so broadly so as to include, for example, cellular self-regulation, or game theory played over time by DNA evolution… okay.

That’s not my definition of consciousness, nor is it most people. In this thread, I am definining consciousness as “a state of subjective self-awareness arising from brain activity.” So, things like plants, cells, DNA? Not conscious in the sense I’m talking about. Neither are embryos until third trimester, from what we know.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

DNA is much more than “cellular self-regulation, or game theory played over time by DNA evolution”.

It is a “quasi-intelligent system” that can “sense danger” and “respond”.

And it promotes Nobel Prize Recipients to suggest
“A goal for the future would be to determine the extent of knowledge the cell has of itself, and how it utilizes this knowledge in a “thoughtful” manner when challenged.”

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

The heart is the first organ to form. It begins outside of the body.
Video

The heart is now known to have its own brain.
“Far more than a simple pump, as was once believed, the heart is now recognized by scientists as a highly complex system with its own functional “brain.”

If it’s a brain you want for determining consciousness, then it’s a brain you’ll get.

Qingu's avatar

I understand, but it is manifestly different than consciousness in the sense that I am talking about.

I mean, if you think that everything alive is “conscious” in a morally significant sense, how do you decide what to eat? How do you draw the line between what forms of life are morally okay to kill?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’m not here to discuss morals. I said earlier that I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I’m simply pointing to the evidence at hand and asking for consideration beyond what the commonly held notions of what being human is all about.

I have no morals to foist upon others. But I do have science to share.

MorenoMelissa1's avatar

A baby is a baby wheather it is tisue or an embryo. I feel the same way you do.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@DarkScribe I am doing no subterfuge are those who try so hard not to call a blastocyst, embryo or fetus a human. I can call a pine tree and alien all day long but it will still grow about 30ft with a straight trunk, needles and pine cones, even when it just sprouts from the ground like a blade of grass it is still a tree just not a developed one. I know what it is and call it like it is, no poppycock or voodoo mumbo jumbo.

@janbb “If this is no a question about when life begins and whether abortion is moral, why is it so important to you to discuss it?” I know where loge begins. I was interested to find if anyone could actually come up with clear logic to dispute that those who don’t know when it starts.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Typo “life” is the word I meant.

jerv's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Damn touch-typists….

mattbrowne's avatar

It’s an ethical questions not restricted to religious interpretations. There are no definite answers. To me the beginning of humanity of unborn babies begins when the development of the nervous system progresses beyond the reptilian brain (using the triune brain model).

Just to be clear: careless sex and unwanted pregnancies are wrong. But so is the punishment of women and doctors after an abortion.

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