Last modified on June 1, 2013, at 15:54

Debate: At what point does "Human" life begin?

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One of the fundamental issues in the pro-life/pro-choice controversy is determining when human life begins, particularly in terms of being regarded as fully "human" in the eyes of the law. The catalyst for this page was the legislative initiative in North Dakota to define human life from the earliest possible stage. The bill declares that "any organism with the genome of homo sapiens" is a person protected by rights granted by the North Dakota Constitution and state laws. This interpretation would not only define unborn, developing fetuses in the womb as fully human, but also carry the label and legal protections of being fully human to fertilized human eggs or frozen embryos that have yet to be implanted in a mother's womb.

Others feel that life as a human begins once a baby is independent of the womb and can survive in that mode, even if significant medical assistance is required. In this context, a developing fetus still in the womb in the 7th month is not a human being, but if prematurely born at that time it becomes one because it is now independent of the mother's body.

Neither definition is satisfactory to people who stand fully behind being either pro-life or pro-choice, and each side has compelling reasons to support those positions. The purpose of this debate page is to allow those ideas and expressions to be given a fair and open airings, which will hopefully provide guidance to people who are unsure if the truth is one side, the other, or somewhere in the middle.

Please note that the section labels below do not represent the only options - they are placeholders to organize responses, so new sections can be added as appropriate.

Human Life begins with childbirth

When it is born, a baby changes. Its white blood cells change, it uses its lungs for the first time and its blood takes a different route through its heart. It is at this point that human life begins. Before this, a foetus is just part of its mother's body, like an extra limb. When it is born, it becomes its own person and is no longer an extra bit of the mother.I personally believe that the baby's first breath is its soul being breathed into it, signifying the start of its life. Before the first breath, the baby is just a shell of a person or the potential to be a person, like a car without its engine. When the white blood cells change from those of a foetus to those of a baby, they change the blood from support blood into Life Blood, which no-one can live without. If a baby did not go through these changes, it would not survive. Pregnancy prepares a foetus for life, but does not create it. Childbirth creates life. Ululator 12:54, 5 May 2009 (EDT)

Human Life begins at a certain stage of neonatal development

It is my belief that life begins at the point where the brain has developed sufficiently for the fetus to be "self aware". Essentially when the brain is formed to the point that non automatic (or regulatory) brain activity (such as non auto response to stimulus) can be registered. Prior to this I consider the fetus a cell cluster, in the same way that I consider my heart a muscle.

On a side note, I wish there was more activity in the debate boards, or am I just missing it? I do love debate, and I realize that talk pages are usually not appropriate for such things, which is why I wish there was more going on around these parts. I'm not sure if this particular subject is especially debatable, since much of it hinges on personal belief rather than empirical fact with verifiable veracity.

Also, a question. Should any syops happen to wander around this way, I was wondering. Where do debate posts fall within the 90/10 rule. As I said before I love debate, but I would not want to violate any rules. I hope that partaking in ongoing debate counts as worthwhile contribution.--NicholasT 09:58, 13 April 2009 (EDT)

Human Life begins earlier than that

Human life began 6000 or so years ago. The gametes in the sex organs are small parts of humans and are just as human as when they have fertilised an egg and grown into an adult, albeit less developed. In the same way that an unattached exhaust pipe is still part of a car, and a new car cn be built around it, all cells of a human are in themnselves human.

But if someone stole an unattached exhaust pipe, they wouldn't be charged with Auto Theft. They'd probably be charged with petty larceny, depending on the value of the pipe. The reason for this is because being something that will eventually be part of a car doesn't make it a car. So why are cells that will eventually be part of a human considered human by themselves? Gregkochuconn 09:33, 23 March 2011 (EDT)
Because humans have a soul. I agree that the tailpipe analogy is a poor one, but it doesn't retract from the fact that the divine spark of life that separates from the animals is present from the moment of conception. MikeOxlong 15:09, 23 March 2011 (EDT)

Life Begins at Conception

Two hundred years ago a one month premature fetus was not expected to live outside the womb. Today, with the advancement of medical knowledge and care, a one month premature human fetus is almost surely expected to be able to be brought to a fully independent and functional mature human being capable of sustaining life on it’s own. As medical abilities advance it seems entirely possible that a two month premature fetus could be expected to survive outside the womb and continue to maturity. It would seem that, one day future, medical advancements could also nurture a three month premature fetus with the same result. Logically, with great advancement in medicine, wouldn’t it seem possible that someday a fertilized egg could be nurtured to full maturity? An acorn planted in an appropriate environment and with adequate nurturing is expected to become a mighty oak. Just so, the fertilized human ovum, in the right environment, is expected become a fully functional baby. An acorn will never become a human nor a fertilized ovum an oak tree. In the bible, God speaks of the mystery of a man leaving his father and mother and being joined to his wife and the two becoming ‘one’ flesh. I think we can extrapolate this mystery to include a sperm being joined to an ovum and the two becoming ‘one’ flesh, as well. Life is in the acorn and life is also in the fertilized egg. Life begins with conception. --WPA 14:52, 13 October 2009 (EDT)

But what about the fact that about half of all fertilized eggs do not implant in the womb. Are those living souls as well? --TomRRughlyn 1:49, 2 March 2012 (EDT)

TomRRughlyn, but what about the fact that more than 99.999999% of all babies born die, eventually? Because nearly everybody dies some day (i.e. old age if nothing else) is it then acceptable to kill an arbitrary human because we know that they will ultimately die anyway? This is the difference: Life is God's to give and to take. God alone holds the authority to create and to end life. Mankind was not granted the authority to take another human life arbitrarily. So it well may be true that God allows half of all fertilized eggs to die. It may also be true that a certain percentages of embryos live no more than a few hours, or a few months, or it also may be that a certain percentage of babies live no more than a few days, or a few weeks, months, or years. But the fact that God allows a life to end at some particular time is completely unrelated to when we humans are allowed to end a life! As mere humans, we have no business asking whether or not person x has a soul. That is God's business. That's why he gave us rules for not killing other folks, and those rules never ask us to make a determination of whether the person has a soul. Jesseg 03:29, 10 February 2013 (EST)


Life is a very complicated term, it's hard to argue that something is not alive, even harder to argue that something is, what are our standards for what is non living and what is living in this largely deterministic universe? Poonj

I like this answer too, I can say for certain that I am alive right now... but it is kind of like sleep, when I get very old I think that death also is a process, there is a certain death that happens with advanced age, then you get very sick and then you have a few minuites that are neither death nor life then you are clearly dead except there is a little life left, like chemical reactions still taking place, then you are dry bones eventually and you are not even you anymore. Think about that for being born --Mdamber 11:45, 1 June 2013 (EDT)

Scientifically speaking

Scientifically speaking, human life begins when it's both LIFE and HUMAN. It is both fully alive and fully human at the very moment of conception.

DNA research proves that it is also a unique human organism in that it is not a clone of either of its parents. In other words, it is not "Part" of its mother. It well may be inside of its mother, but if she swallowed a grain of sand, that's not part of her. The baby may also be highly dependent on the mother -- but if she has tape worms in her intestines, those are dependent on her too -- but they are not part of her.

The baby - from the moment of conception - is inside -- and dependent on -- but not part of, the mother. This is simple biology.

The real question is not whether abortion kills an innocent human life -- it always kills an innocent human life. (Remember, a human being is any human in the state of being.)

The real question is under what circumstances it is acceptable to kill another human. Those who believe that God created man kind argue that killing another innocent human is wrong. Jesseg 01:30, 8 February 2013 (EST)

Well said. I agree. It is a hard question, not because it has a hard answer, the answer is more or less when the child is born, the difficult part is while the child is not yet actually alive, even before conception, there is a certain supernatural thing about a human life that trancends weather or not the baby is alive. I would say also that abortion is not an issue of killing a living child, murder, or anything like that. It is less clearly defined than that. Abortion is an issue of the degrading of respect for morals, God's natural order, et cetera. It's not that God planned for that child to live, and it's not that he planned fo it to die, it's not about death or life. It is about being so selfish that you think that you would rather have your fun and sleep around and not use proper protection and when the pill or IUD doesn't work you just say screw it I don't want this, it's more than killing a baby, it's not killing a baby, it's you vs God. I don't think it is hard for a christian to find flaw in that (that does not mean my argument, that refers to the premise that abortion is bad because it is a defiance of god's plan). --Mdamber 11:27, 1 June 2013 (EDT)

Once the sperm has fertilized the egg

From that point clearly new life has been produced, and should have certain rights applied to it. Or it could be at age 40--Patmac 11:40, 1 June 2013 (EDT)