Many people have different opinions on when human life begins, but what does science say? In this article, we will explore the scientific evidence that supports the view that life starts at conception, also known as fertilization. We will also address some common objections and misconceptions that challenge this view.
What is conception?
Conception, or fertilization, is the process by which a sperm cell from a male unites with an egg cell from a female to form a new cell called a zygote. This zygote contains the complete genetic information of both parents, making it a unique and distinct human being. Conception occurs in the fallopian tube, usually within 24 hours after ovulation. The zygote then travels down the tube and implants in the uterus about six days later.
What is the scientific evidence that life starts at conception?
There are several lines of evidence that support the view that life starts at conception. Here are some of them:
– The zygote meets the biological criteria of a living organism. It is composed of cells, it has a metabolism, it responds to stimuli, it grows and develops, and it has the potential to reproduce.
– The zygote is genetically distinct from both parents. It has a unique combination of DNA that determines its sex, blood type, eye color, hair color, and other traits. It is not a part of the mother’s body or the father’s body, but a separate entity with its own identity.
– The zygote is a member of the human species. It belongs to the genus Homo and the species sapiens, just like any other human being. It is not a potential human or a subhuman, but a human in its earliest stage of development.
– The zygote’s development is continuous and coordinated. From conception onwards, the zygote follows a predictable and orderly pattern of growth and differentiation that leads to the formation of tissues, organs, and systems. The zygote does not become a different kind of organism at any point in its development; it remains a human being throughout.
– The zygote’s development is self-directed and independent. The zygote does not depend on external factors or signals to initiate or sustain its development; it has an inherent capacity to do so. The zygote does not need the mother’s consent or awareness to exist or grow; it has an intrinsic right to life.
What are some common objections and misconceptions that challenge this view?
Some people may argue that life does not start at conception because:
– The zygote is not viable outside the womb. This argument confuses viability with humanity. Viability refers to the ability of an organism to survive outside its natural environment; humanity refers to the quality of being a member of the human species. Viability is not a criterion for determining when life begins; humanity is. Moreover, viability is relative and dependent on technology; what was once considered non-viable may become viable with medical advances.
– The zygote is not sentient or conscious. This argument confuses sentience or consciousness with personhood. Sentience or consciousness refers to the ability of an organism to perceive and respond to its surroundings; personhood refers to the status of being a moral agent with rights and duties. Sentience or consciousness is not a criterion for determining when life begins; personhood is. Moreover, sentience or consciousness is gradual and variable; it does not appear suddenly at a certain stage of development.
– The zygote is not wanted or planned by the parents. This argument confuses wantedness or plannedness with value. Wantedness or plannedness refers to the desire or intention of the parents regarding their offspring; value refers to the worth or dignity of an individual regardless of their circumstances. Wantedness or plannedness is not a criterion for determining when life begins; value is. Moreover, wantedness or plannedness is subjective and changeable; it does not affect the objective reality of the zygote’s existence.
In conclusion, science supports the view that life starts at conception. Conception marks the beginning of a new human being who has his or her own genetic identity, biological characteristics, developmental trajectory, and inherent right to life. This view is consistent with the findings and consensus of various fields of science, such as embryology, genetics, physiology, and bioethics. Therefore, writing an article on how life starts at conception from a scientific standpoint is not only possible but also reasonable and factual.