When life begins and ends...

I was reading something this evening about indications that death has occured. Listed were the cessation of heartbeat and the inability of the brain to produce measurable brainwaves.

Should this same criteria be used to decide when life begins? Perhaps it would at least provide a place of agreement for opposing sides in the abortion issue.

If life is over when the heart stops beating and brain waves cease, then why has it not started when these things first occur? It would seem a scientific definition unburdened with having to deal with a “soul”.

It seems logical that the same criteria be used for when life is over be applied to when it begins.

According to Planned Parenthood itself, life begins at conception. This is consistent with the claims made by medical textbooks and world-class medical authorities.

How can there be conception if there is no life?

But conception is where a new human being begins his life as human being.

I never understood how people can even bother to argue on such an obvious issue.


Huh? I thought that medically life began at implantation.

Anyway, I still haven’t heard anyone answer my question:

when is the “moment of conception” when life begins?

“Conception” is a little vague. It’s like saying, “life begins at pregnancy.”

Ben - I agree.

My question here is why do we use different standards for the beginning and the end of life. It would seem they would have to be the same thing.

JT- I am not really concerned with what has been put forth previously, I am interested in why the differentiation between the beginning and end of life. Perhaps there is a good reason. If so, I am sure it will be brought up here.

Night night folks…

Not at all. There is nothing vague about that term. Conception refers to the fertilization of the ovum, after which a zygote is formed. No ambiguity there.

And life most certainly does not begin at implantation, as attested by the numerous sources which I cited. Even if it did though, that would have no impact on the vast majority of abortions, since the overwhelming majority of them occur between seven and ten weeks into the pregnancy – long after implantation, long after a heartbeat and brainwaves can be detected, and long after the fetus becomes noticeably human in appearance.

If one wants an informed answer to your question, then one must be concerned with what has been put forth previously. That is, if one wants an answer that is based on science, rather than slogans and baseless rhetoric.

Actually, according to the textbook definition of life, sperm and egg cells are alive. They move, reproduce, and respond to stimuli. They don’t consume external resources, but until the umbilical cord is hooked up, neither does a fertilized egg.

JThunder, we do this every frigging time this topic comes up, Can you please just this once cite arguments instead of people saying “I and my doctorate believe this to be so,”?

Actually, if one wanted to be pedantic, one could say that life began when a really wierd molecule in the primordial soup was formed in such a way as to be able to make copies of itself from the surrounding goo. The question of when one person becomes distinct from another is not a question of life; it’s a question of philosophy.

Ok people you are getting a little off track. I am looking for reasons we should quanitify the beginnind of life as the first signs of things that herald the end when they cease…

“Fertilization of the ovum”? At what point during the fertilization process does life begin?

They are alive, but they are not distinct organisms, which is another matter altogether. The OP was clearly talking about the beginning of the life of a distinct human organism.

And every friggin’ time, you fail to provide any support for your stance in this matter.

Look, if medical textbooks and world class experts in medicine and embryology attest that life begins at conception, then most reasonable people would consider their claims to be authoritative. Heck, even Planned Parenthood, the USA’s largest abortion provider, admits that human life begins at conception. Your skepticism in ths matter goes far beyond the bounds of reason. And why? Because you don’t like this particular conclusion, and because you claim to have done well in (short) high school biology.

Fertilization is the combining of the sperm atozoa and the ovum. It’s that simple. Now, one could attempt to break that down even further (to a specific nanosecond, for example), but to what avail? It would be of absolutely no benefit to those who dislike this conclusion and its implications.

Well, you did say,

To answer that question, it’s only fair to show what the actual experts in the field attest.

Yet I still do not see you addressing the OP. I do not have to be concerned with what has been said on this before, unless the experts you cite will use a landmark function for the beginning of life, and the ceasing of that function for death.

It seems you are having half of a conversation that started somewhere else…and are hellbent on finishing that one rather than discussing the OP as I have stated over and over.

ah, well…

Wow. That’s some good long-term memory. It’s a shame that you forgot the sentance “Can you please just this once cite arguments instead of people saying ‘I and my doctorate believe this to be so,’?”. JT, if any one of those vaunted experts attempted to post “Live begins at conception, and because of my qualifications, I must be right,” they’d be laughed off the board. I see no reason not to laugh at you for an attempt to do this via proxy.

Cite- you know what? Nevermid. We’re not going to change each other’s minds, and we are hijacking.

Re the OP: It’s an interesting idea, newscrasher. I for one would like to see some people respond to it. My personal beliefs about life are a bit more complex than measureable brain activity, but I do like the dilemma presented to anyone who finds brain death a good stopping place for life but not a good starting place.

I believe that someone is alive only as long as they exist as a person. If they have no ego, no sense of self, then they ain’t a person. They may be close enough to be grandchilded (sorry) into having certain rights, to avoid confusion, but no ego means no self, and no self means no one. My opinion, of course

To what avail? Look, I’m not talking about splitting it down to a specific nanosecond. I’m asking at what step of the conception process “life begins.” To a pro-lifer, at what point does stopping the process amount to murder? The point when the first sperm touches the egg? The start of the acrosomal reaction? The end of it? The point at which the sperm’s chromosomes are released into the egg?

Not that it matters much to me personally. But the ignorant folks who believe in a magical “moment of conception” had better get ready for their reality sandwich, because from what I understand scientists are already working on contraceptives that target different stages of the conception process. For example, it’s not hard to imagine a contraceptive that would block the enzymes that break down the outer wall of the sperm after it’s been taken inside the egg.

Plus, this is aside from all the questions raised by twins and chimeras. If I fertilize an ovum in a dish, then I am told that I have a human being in the dish. According to the pro-lifers, it’s murder if I kill the ovum.

What if I wait for the zygote to divide and form, say, an 8-cell embryo. If I kill one of those cells, is it murder? What if I tease out one cell with a glass needle. Now, that cell can become an identical twin to the original embryo. If I kill that cell, it’s murder. Whups! Better take that needle and quietly shove the cell back into the embryo, so that it will only be one human again. Now I can kill that cell with impunity.

All this is a serious problem for some of the arguments pro-lifers use. I’ve heard many argue that you have to outlaw abortion, because you can’t draw a dividing line during pregnancy where you clearly have a fetus before the line and a baby after. “The third trimester? You mean that a minute before midnight at the end of the second trimester you have a fetus, and it’s ok to have an abortion, and two minutes later it’s murder?” Thus, the argument goes, you have to say that once conception happens, you’ve got a human being with full rights, because conception is the only clear-cut moment, the only “temporal singularity”, in the entire process. But, as I pointed out, the “moment of conception” is a myth.

Even though it has been pointed out that you are hijacking my thread, you continue to do so.

Drat. A pox upon you.

Arg- sorry.

My own take on the actual OP is that “death” is more or less the point where they can’t get your brain functioning again.

I’m not sure that should be applied to abortion arguments, though. It’s a complicated issue, in part because outlawing abortion forces women to become “baby incubators” at the behest of the state.

I personally think that arguments over definitions of “life” are a red herring. The real question is, why is it wrong to kill people? Once you figure that out, you can ask whether those reasons apply to the fetus.

Conception is a process that takes a few hours. The lucky sperm penetrates the oocyte…migrates across and begins the process of exchanging genetic information and forming a zygote.



In a strict sense…perhaps. But “moment” is an ambiguous term, that is often dependent on context. In the context of a 9 month gestation, I’d gather most reasonable folks would consider a few hours to be a “moment”. If not, what is a moment? Is a minute a moment? Is a second? There are plenty of contexts where a “second” would occupy a relatively large space of time.

You ask

Abortions don’t stop fertilization. Unless you’re speculating about some hypothetical petri dish experiment (and I’ll let somebody else play the hypothetical game) , a discussion about the timeline of conception vis a vis pro life beliefs seems moot.

[QUOTE(and I’ll let somebody else play the hypothetical game) , a discussion about the timeline of conception vis a vis pro life beliefs seems moot. **[/QUOTE]

I guess you will leave responding to the OP to others as well? hmmm?

The discussion is not about conception, but life.

But feel free to hijack this thread anywhere you see fit.

Sorry, but I have found this very frustrating.