Monday, September 19, 2005

In response to a comment

I should have announced awhile back that I am now a contributor at Pro-Life Blogs on the subject of stem cell research. (Big surprise that!)

Mike, in response to a post of mine, wrote that he didn't think I could come up with a characteristic of humans that was present in the 5 day old blastocyst. Now Mike writes for an interesting blog called "The Beginning of Life". He is looking to debate when a human becomes a person.

Here is my response:

Pick a defining characteristic? Hmm, how about human DNA? Does that work? I believe each of the 100 or so cells that make up the HUMAN blastocyst would contain nothing but HUMAN DNA.

I think you may be trying to make a point about "personhood" and whether or not that "ball of cells" is actually a person - since it is undeniably human.

Personhood is not really a concrete concept however; it’s more like a game of "who can be in my club". And once you start excluding people from the club, bad things tend to happen to those who are excluded.

You pick a characteristic that you think defines "personhood" and I will argue that it is a valuable characteristic or capability because it is intrinsically human. In other words, it is our humanness that makes that capability valuable. If that is the case, then something that has intrinsic value is valuable from the start, i.e. conception.

A blueprint may not be a house, after all a blueprint doesn't organically grow into a house. An embryo, on the other hand, is not a blueprint of a human, but rather a human at that stage of development. A human who is long as it is provided with the correct environment. Like a fish needs water, an embryo needs a womb. Does that make it unnatural? Or not a life? Does that fact disqualify it from the human family?