Braun, we can see brainwave activity as early as 5-6 weeks in utero and the heart begins beating at around 21 days. However, science supports the idea that life begins at conception. When the sperm and egg fuse, they create a human being with its own unique set of DNA. DNA is the identifier of life, which is why life must be protected from conception, the point at which a unique 46 chromosome human being comes into existence.
Click here for a citation from the New England Journal of Medicine. J.Goldenring “Development of the Fetal Brain” New England Journal Of Medicine, August 26, 1982 P564
The heart actually begins to beat around 21 days. Click here for a citation from the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Lack of brain activity should not be a deciding factor. Even brain death is still a very undefined term with inaccurate testing. There have been many cases of people declared brain dead who then woke up and had normal brain functioning. Follow this link for a dramatic story from CNN Dad took gun into hospital … saved son’s life | CNN
Davie, brain activity is just one criterion for defining the end of life. Also, the beginning of life is a different process and thus rightly requires different criteria. Among scientists, when life begins is not up for debate. In fact, there is amazing consensus.
In a landmark study in 2018 Steve Jacobs “emailed surveys to professors in the biology departments of over 1,000 institutions around the world.” This was a huge, cross-cultural study of experts in the field.
Biology is the scientific discipline which specifically studies life. The results showed that the vast majority of biologists assert that life begins at conception. Jacobs wrote, “I found that 5,337 biologists (96%) affirmed that a human’s life begins at fertilization…” Please read the abstract in the National Library of Medicine journal.
Spence, brainwaves are detectable as early as six weeks in utero — keyword “detectable.” Regardless, human life biologically begins at conception. DNA is the scientific identifier of life. At conception a new human being with its own unique set of DNA — separate from that of its mother or father – is created. Sentience itself is not well-defined and is very subjective.
What about the person in a medical emergency who is temporarily non-responsive. Have they lost their humanity? Some people think advanced AI will achieve sentience soon. Will that make computers human? Again, DNA is the criteria used by scientists to identify life forms. Our human rights should be protected on the objective basis of humanity – not on the subjective, fluid criteria of “sentience”.
Josh, saying a person is “hypothetical” does not make it so. You ignore the scientific fact that DNA is the identifier of life for plants, animals, and humans. It is illogical not to apply that scientific standard at the beginning of life. The DNA does not change — nothing genetically is added from conception until a person dies at say 100! Cognizance is not a known or constant criteria.
Modern research has determined that the unborn are thinking and learning while still in the womb. Newborn babies will respond to voices they heard and even stories that were read to them prior to birth. Thinking does not begin at birth. Also, what about someone who is in a coma due to an accident or medical problem? While they are unconscious, unaware, and “unthinking,” have they become “unhuman” temporarily? For something as important as human life we need an objective criterion, not a standard that is subjective and changing…
Barry…you state that higher brain function does not occur until the third trimester. By the second trimester, fetuses will startle at loud noises and may even turn toward a familiar voice. REM sleep which indicates dreaming begins in the second trimester. https://www.verywellfamily.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-fetal-brain-development-4707581
…you state incorrectly that third trimester abortions only occur when the mother’s life is threatened or if the fetus is not viable. Currently 6 states and the District of Columbia have no statutory limits on abortion. Those states are Alaska, Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Vermont. States with Gestational Limits for Abortion | KFF
What is your response to the discriminatory nature of abortion? Did you know that abortion has been used to practically eliminate people with Down Syndrome? According to the United States Joint Economic Committee, absent selective abortion there would be 80% more babies with Down Syndrome born each year. Click here for that report.
What about the racial discrimination that is pervasive? According to a Centers for Disease Control report for the year 2020, black babies comprised 39.2% of abortions despite the fact that black Americans were only 12.4% of the population in 2020.