University of Toronto Students for Life said: Hi Russell,
“Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m not sure if I follow your logic though.”
Thank you for answering. I can help you understand the logic.
“1) If you’re not sure whether “the product of conception” is alive,”
A fraction of the products of conception are alive and will live to birth. Only 30 percent =/_ will live to birth.
“what else could “the product of conception” be?”
The POC (product of conception) could be non-human life (life incapable of living as a human).
“Dead? If it’s growing, isn’t it alive?”
Not everything that is dead was at one time growing. The problem is found in the zygote uncertainty principle. Because of the location of the DNA one cannot tell if it replicated and did not create life or if it replicated and then did live. There is simply no way to tell. The DNA itself, without its replication process, could be said to have never lived.
On a larger scale, we are talking about a product of conception that is not human and cannot live as a human. The human body has a process whereby it checks the DNA of every cell and if that DNA cannot live as a human, it is destroyed and reabsorbed into the body. So it is not me or any other human that decides it is human life, it is the body that makes that determination. The determination by the organism that the life cannot live as human life can occur right up too and after birth.
“2) Whether or not a child will live to birth doesn’t tell us anything about whether or not a child is a human being who deserves human rights.”
You are making the false assumption that every pair of gametes will produce a “child” that is human. You have no reason to believe such a thing. The fact is that more products of conception will die than will live and that more will not have enough human DNA than will be born as humans. Because non human life does not have human rights, your assumption fails.
” It would just tell us something about the lifespan of a particular human being.”
No, there is no human being until the body confirms there is a human life. At no point prior to birth is the zygote/embryo/fetus certain to be capable of human life. Even one second before birth there is a 1 percent chance the fetus is incapable of life due to genetic flaw or that it will die for other reasons. The great error here is in your willingness to remove rights from a real human on the incorrect theory that there may be some human life. There is a born human life, according to the “Law of Charity” that needs to be saved at every instant of time. Rather than focusing on saving a non human or potential human life, one should save real born human life.
“But, our human rights aren’t determined by how long we’re going to live, are they?”
That is true for proved human life only.
“Rather, aren’t human rights dependent on whether or not we are human beings?”
Human rights are “made up” by men and are not uniform. A person can pass a law that says that life begins at any point in the cycle of life. You can for example pass a law that says that life begins at conception, even though it would be false. More life at conception is not human (42%) than will be born human (30%).
“Why is living to birth relevant?”
Four processes essential for human life must change at birth. If the DNA that drives those changes is not human enough to result in birth, then the fetus would have never been human enough to live as a human.
“3) I have no idea what you mean by “has enough human DNA to live as a human.” Can you explain?”
To produce an adult human the process involves building 100 trillion cells most containing diploid chromosomes and averaging 100 trillion atoms per cell (10^28 atoms) packed in the correct order, whereby the human genotype yields the correct phenotype. Anywhere along the path to adulthood the DNA can have errors in replication caused by outside forces such as chemicals or radiation. Those errors at any point can cause the DNA, cell or life in general to die.
The human body including the DNA has the ability to self check the DNA and cells and determine which cells or DNA will lead to life and which are incompatible with life. With respect to DNA, there is a check system that will correct many errors in replication and destroy any DNA, cells, etc. with errors. Many times the errors are so great that the DNA cannot be repaired and therefore is destroyed by the mtDNA or by other forces in the body. In such a case the determination as to whether or not there is “human life” capable of living is determined at the atomic, DNA, cell or organ level and is not under the control of any intentional choice or action by a sentient human mind.
“(a) How do you measure “how much” human DNA someone has? Can you have 50% or 30% human DNA?”
An Ape has about 95% =/- similar DNA as a human. (The photo above is of an Ape fetus.) So I doubt that any organism could claim to be human that has less human type DNA than the Ape.
” Are you concerned a pre-born child with human parents might actually be a chimpanzee or a fish or a giraffe rather than a human being?”
No, that would be unlikely.
“If someone has human parents, aren’t they human?”
“I don’t follow what you mean.”
You don’t follow because you are looking at life from a retrospective view. Every born human was at one time a viable zygote and is in fact human. For that reason you will always be correct from the retrospective view in saying that life began at conception. Retrospectively speaking one can pick any point and say that it is the “beginning” of life. Using a retrospective view, one could choose puberty as the beginning of life and define life from that point forward as the point where life began. Any point makes sense retrospectively because you know for a fact you started with a human life.
However life is created prospectively, not retrospectively. One does not know and cannot know where it began. All one can do is say that any particular individual life certainly did not begin at any one point from a prospective view. We have an idea that life began 3.5 billion years ago and evolved into human life along with all other life forms.
“(b) What do you mean by “live as a human.” Isn’t the question simply whether someone *is* a human?”
If a product of conception could have never lived as a human, it is no more human than an Ape.
“Human beings have human rights, don’t they?”
We self define rights we have. We don’t have “human rights” that are not created by humans. Human rights vary with human whim.
“Or are you saying that you can *be* a human, but not be able “to live as a human”?”
If a product of conception cannot live as a human because of genetic flaws, then it is not human enough to live as a human as determined by the internal DNA checking process or the cellular process then it is not human. If it cannot live as a human, then it is not human.
“How exactly do you mean?”
Until the DNA of the genotype expresses the correct phenotype there is no human life.
“4) The science of fertilization is not controversial at all.”
It is your personal view and beliefs related to the process of fertilization that is controversial, not the science involved. The textbook is a retrospective view. And that is an accurate view from the point where you know there is already a human life.
“In the basic developmental biology classes here at U of T, we use the popular Scott F. Gilbert text, which opens the chapter 7 (titled “Fertilization: Beginning a new organism”) with the following statement:
Fertilization is the process whereby two sex cells (gametes) fuse together to create a new individual with a genome derived from both parents. Fertilization accomplishes two separate ends: sex (the combining of genes derived from two parents) and reproduction (the creation of a new organism).”
The statement above is absolutely correct from a retrospective view. The author already knows there is human life and the life was living. He traced back the life to the fertilization process and stated that the particular life in question began at that point. I agree fully.
“Are you suggesting that basic BIO101 textbooks all have this wrong?”
No, I agree with the retrospective view of the book.
“When do you suggest we have a new organism, scientifically speaking? On what authority?”
I agree fully that from a retrospective view where one knows that a baby existed and one traces back the history of the genome of the baby, it can be said to have began its individual life at fertilization. However, life does not begin retrospectively, life begins prospectively and there is no point at which any individual human can be said to begin from a prospective view. From a retrospective view I could say life started at implantation, puberty or over a glass of wine and be as correct as saying that life began at fertilization. For you life began at fertilization because retrospectively it makes good sense to you. However, prospectively the idea that life begins at conception fails simply because most conceptions die and many are not human life.
I hope you till take the information in this post and the information on my site http://www.scientificabortionlaws.com and change your pro life stance that causes death and instead join me is saving the most life possible.