The Womb and the Casket — The Bookends of Life
Rick Fischer
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I consider that the view that the single cell which is the just-fertilized egg is fully a human being is a purely religious view, absent necessary support from any objective, non-religious argument. The argument goes that the single cell, the zygote, contains all the necessary human genes and has the potential to, and will, develop into a complete human being, and therefore is fully human from the start.

But zygotes are not just a “fertilized egg”. Once fertilization takes place, there is no egg. There is only a zygote. An egg only has half the chromosomes of the mother or any other human. A sperm has half the chromosomes of the father or any other human. But a Zygote has a complete and intact genome (usually) and that genome has never existed in human history. When we were zygotes we were fully human and distinctly different than any other life form in the history of the universe.

Since the zygote uses energy stores from the egg to maintain homeostasis and promote growth,he or she is alive.

So there you have it. Scientific proof that from conception onward we are all individual human lives.

One problem with that idea is that genetic science has demonstrated that any stem cell in our bodies also contains all the necessary human genes and also has the potential to develop into a full human being (albeit a clone). So far, this has only been accomplished in animals, for ethical reasons, but the point is proven.

No sir. Only embryonic stem cells have the potential to develop into distinct human lives. A blastocyst is a specific stage in our development. We have burned all of the energy stores from the egg. Cellular division has already started. Once implantation takes place, the blastocystic cells differentiate between embryonic and placental stem cells. Clones are made from those cells in that particular stage, and only with artificial manipulation.

If containing all necessary human genes and possessing the potential to develop into a human being is to be declared sufficient to call for the rights afforded full humanity to be enjoyed by that cell, then limiting those rights to only one kind of such cell and not the others is arbitrary, with only a religious standard on which to make the distinction as to which cells deserve such protection.

No, it’s not arbitrary at all. Zygotes are not just any human cell. They are singular. Dividing blood, bone, muscle or neural cells will only produce an organ. But a zygote is an organism, not an organ. There is no such thing as a zygotic cell. Once the mitosis is completed, there is no longer a zygote, he or she has become two cells. We become a blastocyst. From zygote, to blastocyct, to embryo, to fetus, to neotate etc, from fertilization until death, we are all individual, human, and alive.

This would be a civil law nightmare, with no secular justification for the state to be involved at the cellular level in the first place; at least regarding civil or criminal law. (It is perfectly proper for the state to be involved in fertilized human cells as a matter of medical ethics or regulation.)

Is it perfectly proper, though? Words have to be specific. There is no such thing as “fertilized human cells”. They are zygotes. They are individual, alive, and fully human. Of course, they can be put into suspended animation and not be technically alive, but you get my drift.

As far as spontaneous abortions and blastocysts that don’t implant, they are still individual human lives (implantation does not infer humanity otherwise we would cease to be human once we were born) , they just die of natural causes. But elective abortions are an act of intentionally killing an individual human life. This is not word play, or symantics. This is a scientific fact that stands completely on it’s own, regardless of morals, religion, or ethics.

(FWIW, I ain’t happy about it either).

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