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March 25, 2012

The Day Of The Unborn

March 25, 2012 is World Day of the Unborn. It is easy to disregard the unborn because most of us understand them as nothing but a "ball of cells". With current issues such as "women's rights" and "Feminism" and "Pro-Choice" and "Pro-Life", it is very important to understand and realize the answer to the question, "When Does Human life Really Begin?" Many groups would attempt to answer it in a theological perspective. And then atheist groups would contest that it is never a question about "religion" or "morality".

What does science tell us about the beginning of Human life? Is there really a scientific neutral answer to this question? In search for the answer, I came across a scientific paper entitled, "When Does Human Life Begin? A Scientific Perspective". It was written by Dr. Maureen Condic, an Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Utah School of Medicine, with an adjunct appointment in the Department of Pediatrics. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago, and her doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley. Since her appointment at the University of Utah in 1997, Dr. Condic’s primary research focus has been the development and regeneration of the nervous system. In 1999, she was awarded the Basil O’Connor Young Investigator Award for her studies of peripheral nervous system development. In 2002, she was named a McKnight Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Investigator in recognition of her research in the field of adult spinal cord regeneration. In addition to her scientific research, Dr. Condic participates in both graduate and medical teaching. She is director of the University of Utah School of Medicine course in Human Embryology.

Her research paper is also referred to as the White Paper. You can download the full paper here.

According to Dr. Condic, "the embryo is not something that is being passively built by the process of development, with some unspecified,
external “builder” controlling the assembly of embryonic components. Rather, the embryo is manufacturing itself." She further explained that, "he organized pattern of development doesn’t produce the embryo; it is produced by the embryo as a consequence of the zygote’s
internal, self-organizing power. Indeed, this “totipotency,” or the power of the zygote both to generate all the cells of the body and simultaneously to organize those cells into coherent, interacting bodily structures, is the defining feature of the embryo."

Backed with explanations using principles in biochemistry and neuroanatomy, Dr. Condic concluded her paper saying, "the embryo comes into existence at sperm-egg fusion...a human organism is fully present from the beginning, controlling and directing all of the developmental events that occur throughout life. his view of the embryo is objective, based on the universally accepted scientific method of distinguishing different cell types from each other, and it is consistent with the factual evidence. It is entirely independent of any specific ethical, moral, political, or religious view of human life or of human embryos. Indeed, this definition does not directly address the central ethical questions surrounding the embryo: What value ought society to place on human life at the earliest stages of development? Does the human embryo possess the same right to life as do human beings at later developmental stages? A neutral examination of the factual evidence merely establishes the onset of a new human life at a scientifically well defined “moment of conception,” a conclusion that unequivocally indicates that human embryos from the zygote stage forward are indeed living individuals of the human species—human beings."

Humans enjoy inalienable rights, rights they inherently owned, something which are not granted by their race or ethnicity or citizenship. These are the rights to life, liberty and happiness. All human beings, regardless of the stages of their development, must enjoy these rights.

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