When does a clump of cells become a person with full moral status? The question matters whether you believe in God or not. Immanuel Kant Every human being must be treated not merely as a means to an end but as an end in itself zygote blastocyst 36hrs fertilization Examine this chart of development from gametes to neonate At what stage would you draw the line? morula gametes 7days implantation gastrula 14days birth / neonate neurulation foetus > 24 weeks 22days 24weeks 20weeks EEG activity
Heart beat zygote blastocyst 36hrs UK Law fertilization morula gametes Current UK legislation on the attainment of personhood is paradoxical in that it draws lines of moral status at 2 points: implantation gastrula 14days birth / neonate 14 days for embryo research 24 weeks for abortion 7days neurulation foetus > 24 weeks 24weeks 22days
20weeks EEG activity Heart beat zygote blastocyst 36hrs UK Public Opinion fertilization morula gametes In a 2008 poll*, 43% of UK adults thought the first heartbeat was the start of personhood 7days implantation gastrula 40 weeks 14days birth / neonate neurulation foetus > 24 weeks 22days 24weeks
* Reproductive Biology Assoc Inc. International Poll 2008 20weeks Heart beat EEG activity zygote Roman Catholicism blastocyst 36hrs fertilization morula The majority Roman Catholic view, expounded by Donum Vitae 1987 and reinforced by Dignitas Personae 2008 is that ensoulment or personhood begins at the moment of conception gametes 7days implantation gastrula 14days 40 weeks birth / neonate A minority of Catholic theologians have argued,
along the lines of St Thomas Aquinas, that delayed ensoulment occurs when the spirit relates to form ie. When the primitive streak appears neurulation foetus > 26 weeks 22days 24weeks 20weeks Heart beat EEG activity zygote Protestant Christianity blastocyst 36hrs fertilization morula gametes There is a great diversity of view within Protestantism about the time of ensoulment. Generally speaking most believers would view the unique person being created by God within the first 2 weeks. birth / neonate The range of beliefs is
normally either conception (often held by evangelicals or foetus anglo-catholics), implantation > 24 weeks start of relationship with the mother or neurulation (spirit / 24weeks form as per Thomas Aquinas). 7days implantation gastrula 14days neurulation 20weeks EEG activity 22days Heart beat zygote blastocyst 36hrs Islam fertilization Islamic scholars down through the centuries have gametes consistently upheld the teaching of delayed ensoulment. The process of ensoulment reaching fruition at a point between 40 and 120 days gestation* 40 weeks Abortion after 120 days is not birth / neonate
allowed. 120 days morula 7days implantation gastrula 14days neurulation quickening Some Jurists argue for the protection of foetus > 24 weeks the fertilized 40 days embryo and 24weeks therefore are against embryo 20weeks research * Maliki school says earlier 22days Heart beat EEG activity zygote Hinduism fertilization The Vedas teach that all life is sacred. However, human life gametes is the highest level of
conciousness. The divine spark, or soul enters at 120 days (Artma). Hindus also perform a pre-birth ceremony at 7 months when personhood 40weeks is fully achieved. 120 days blastocyst 36hrs birth / neonate morula 7days implantation gastrula 14days neurulation quickening Thus, although the early embryo is to be respected, it is the 40 days 120 day time point which is a key event in the acquiring of human personhood. foetus > 24 weeks 22days 24weeks 20weeks
Heart beat EEG activity zygote blastocyst 36hrs Judaism fertilization Rabbinic thought varies considerably on the emergence of gametes personhood. Rabbi Judah the Patriach held that it occurred at conception. Talmudic teaching is that personhood is only obtained at birth and that the baby only has equivalent 120 days birth / neonate status with the quickening mother when half foetus in and half out of the womb. 40 days morula 7days implantation gastrula 14days neurulation > 24 weeks Other teachings hold that after 40
24weeks days the foetus has special status which precludes abortion for all 20weeks but the most serious reasons. 22days Heart beat EEG activity zygote Buddhism blastocyst 36h fertilization Generally speaking, gametes personhood is not an issue for Buddhists. Consciousness comes from conception therefore this is a critical stage. Genetic makeup of the individual from the blastocyst stage onward can be affected by Karmic influences. This birth / neonate has led some Buddhists to define the blastocyst as the key stage in personhood. foetus morula 7d implantation gastrula 14d
neurulation > 24 weeks 22d Heart beat 24w EEG activity zygote Does developmental fertilization biology inform this debate? gametes Whilst embryo / foetal development is a continuum, there are 5 recognized stages at which scientists have suggested personhood could potentially be defined as beginning although these are birth / neonate hotly contested and debated. 1 2 3 4 5 Fertilization Syngamy new genome Gastrulation (Individuation) EEG activity Birth blastocyst morula implantation
gastrula neurulation foetus > 24 weeks Heart beat EEG activity zygote Fertilization Contrary to popular thought, there is no moment of fertilization. It is a process that can take up to 36 hours. Processes include capacitation of the sperm, oocyte chemoattraction, penetration of the zona pellucida by the sperm and eventual zygote formation. This impacts on personhood simply in that there is no definable new being or entity for at least a day following sexual union. This has implications for those who might oppose emergency contraception in cases of blastocyst fertilization morula gametes implantation gastrula
birth / neonate neurulation foetus > 24 weeks Heart beat EEG activity zygote blastocyst Syngamy fertilization Defining personhood in terms of the creation of a novel genome gametes is also fraught with difficulty. Even though a new genetically distinct entity is formed at the emergence of the zygote, there is still the possibility that the zygote will form multiple entities or that multiple zygotes will fuse to form one. Also it is possible birth / neonate the zygote will form a tumour rather than a viable foetus. In terms of personhood this is foetus problematic. Early blastomeres > 24 weeks within a blastocyst are totipotent so in theory could form multiple persons. morula implantation gastrula
neurulation Heart beat EEG activity zygote Gastrulation blastocyst fertilization By 14 days, the implanted embryo begins to exhibit gametes differentiated cellular structures. This is probably the first point at which biological individuality occurs. Monozygotic twinning can occur up to day 12. Thus several philosophers (including Mary Warnock, Ron birth / neonate Green) talk about the origins of personhood and theologians such as Ford and foetus Olsen, Shannon and Walter > 24 weeks talk about delayed ensoulment as occuring around this time. morula implantation gastrula neurulation
Heart beat EEG activity zygote EEG activity blastocyst fertilization Burst of EEG activity can be detected in the developing foetus at around 20 weeks gametes gestation. There is a persuasive argument that if cessation of electroencephalogram activity marks the end of life, surely the instigation of EEG marks its start. This would imply that birth / neonate being a person is bound up with a functioning cortex. The potential for the brain to foetus experience pain at this point > 24 weeks has informed the abortion debate but the ability to sense the external environment is a key facet to personhood. morula implantation gastrula neurulation Heart beat
EEG activity zygote Birth blastocyst fertilization If there is a critical tipping point in foetal development, it gametes is during the process of delivery of the neonate. Abrupt changes in cardiovascular and pulmonary function occur to sustain life extra-utero. There is no doubt that we talk of a newborn infant as a person and birth / neonate most societies have enshrined legal registration and protection of babies as foetus persons in society. But does > 24 weeks that mean that a foetus in the womb 5 minutes before birth is any less of a person? morula implantation gastrula neurulation Heart beat EEG activity
Molecular polarity determines many of the chemical properties for a molecule VSEPR and Polarity We use molecular geometries to determine the polarity of a molecule VSEPR and Polarity: Summary A diatomic molecule is polar if its bond is polar.
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