Tag Archives: embryology

Personhood, from a Biologist’s Perspective

Sometimes the arguments from pro-RH folks leaves one scratching one’s head.

Most of us attended school and took biology classes, correct? We were all taught that human life begins at conception. And yet take a quick look at the debate forums on Facebook, the arguments at Twitter, the posts at both pro- and anti-RH pages, and it’s clear that some people have either been deceived, or are out to deceive.

Life begins at fertilization. That’s fact. Fertilization = conception. That’s fact too. We can play around with words all day, but bottom line, we all know when human life begins. The only reason we would want to deny that fact is because we want to get around the argument that contraceptives can actually kill a newly formed human life. And if we can’t get around that argument, we’ll have to ask our conscience if we are not in fact advocating murder, albeit of a human who may look like, in the beginning, “just a clump of cells”. But isn’t that where we all began?

Let’s start out with ‘Is a human present at conception?’

Before I answer, let me give you a little biology background in genetics: All living organisms have these crazy things called genomes. Genomes contain all of the DNA present within an organism. DNA is genetic material that contains all the information necessary for the structure and function of an organism.

Let me share an interesting little example for you. If you have a bacteria of species X, you take its genome out, and add in the genome from bacterial species Y, bacteria X will turn into bacteria Y. That’s right- species X will transform into species Y. If you don’t believe me, ask Craig Venter: http://www.ted.com/talks/craig_venter_unveils_synthetic_life.html

This means that the identity of an organism is defined by the DNA that is present in its genome! You are a human because you have a human genome. I also am a human because I have a human genome. Winnie-the-Poo is a bear because he has a bear genome (Grizzly?). Free Willy is a killer whale because he has a killer whale genome. Babe, Lassie, and Flipper are all… I digress.

More here.