When trying to find the singular correct answer to the question “When does life begin?” there are different sources one can consult. This results in the problem of coming to vastly contrasting conclusions when examining all possible texts. There is also an array of bioethical issues that depend on the answer, which makes coming to a conclusion vital for most people. The goal of this paper is to analyze the most widely accepted answers to the question “When does life begin?” and evaluate the bias that comes with choosing a particular theory.
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The Possible Answers to the Question “When does life begin?”
Despite the issue being primarily biological, many people consult religious texts. The starting point of life according to the Bible, as noted by Ling (2017), is considered the conception of a baby. According to this belief, an embryo has the same rights as a human being, and abortions or any types of contraception are considered unethical. If one turns their attention to medical texts, the answer to the question “When does life begin?” could mirror the opinion one would find in the Bible.
Those texts could also state a later date for the starting point of a human life. For instance, according to new biology, “a pregnancy lasts only thirty-nine weeks and one day” (Ling, 2017, p. 33). This specification gives a woman six days to stop the pregnancy without ending a human life. Some texts clarify the distinction between a fetus and a human so as not “to imply that having an abortion would be taking the life of a baby” (Gamble, 2018, p. 13). These are the most common answers to the question of when life begins.
It is important to note that there is a strong presence of bias in trying to find the starting point of human life. People often determine the beginning of life in a way that will support their own opinion on topics relating to abortion and contraception. For instance, in When Does Human Life Begin?, Ling (2017) analyzes the answers provided in the Bible in 18 pages. However, he takes only eight pages to frame a different conclusion from the ‘new biology’ perspective and, in the end, proclaims the religious resolution as the only correct one. Meanwhile, Gamble takes the opposite side in this issue and presents his argument in a way that is advantageous to it.
Possible Complications during Pregnancy
Works that focus on what happens during a pregnancy are unbiased as they are backed up by medical data. For instance, the body undergoes many changes, which makes it harder for it to maintain the homeostasis. While the reproductive system does not help with that, it does ensure the decreasing of disadvantageous genes. It is also important to note that if general homeostasis is not supported for any of the vital factors, it could result in the death of the mother. There have been instances where it was possible to “support the brain-dead patient in a way that she can deliver a healthy child” (Gopčević et al, 2017, p. 82). However, in most cases, if a pregnancy is a threat to the mother’s life, refusing an abortion is considered unethical. Likewise, exceptions are typically made for instances in which patterns of inheritance would result in severe deformities of the child.
There are several ways to resolve the question “When does life begin?” depending on the sources one will choose to consult. For some, the starting point is the moment of conception, for others, it could be from 6 days to 9 months after that point. People have been searching for an answer that will support their opinion on topics such as abortion and contraception for a long time, which makes finding an unbiased work on the subject very challenging. It is also difficult to come to a conclusion that will envelop all complications that could potentially happen during a pregnancy that would endanger the mother’s or the fetus’s life.
Gamble, A. (2018). Women’s rights and unborn life: The development of pro-choice and pro-life activists’ world views. TriCollege Libraries Institutional Repository.
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Gopčevića, A., Rodea, B., Vučića, M., Horvata, A., Širanovića, M., Gavranovića, Ž., Košecb, V., & Košecc, A. (2017). Ethical and medical management of a pregnant woman with brain stem death resulting in delivery of a healthy child and organ donation. International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia, 32, 82-86.
Ling, J.R. (2017). When does human life begin? The Christian Institute.