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The Ethics of the Beginning of Life Abortion, Fertility Treatments, Stem Cells, Cloning.

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Presentation on theme: "The Ethics of the Beginning of Life Abortion, Fertility Treatments, Stem Cells, Cloning."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Ethics of the Beginning of Life Abortion, Fertility Treatments, Stem Cells, Cloning

2 Some Initial Thoughts Bioethics – What is it? Pay attention to language –What makes a being human? –What’s the difference between a human being and a human person What is technically and scientifically possible is not for that very reason morally admissible or allowable

3 Consistent Ethic of Life AKA, the seamless garment theory Basic focus  Value of Life Protection of Life “womb to tomb” Issues of Life are interrelated and interconnected –What are some of the issues? –abortion, modern warfare, the death penalty, and euthanasia,


5 Dignity of Human Person Our physical, temporal lives (and bodies) are gifts Human Life is of basic value at all stages –“From womb to tomb” Consistent Ethic of Life General Presumption to Protect Innocent Human Life

6 When does the human being become a human person? At the moment of conception? At the point where no differentiation can occur? At some point during fetal development? At the point of birth? One year after birth? –Peter Singer

7 When does the human being become a human person? Fetal Development –After uterine implantation –After twinning is no longer possible –Heartbeat –Brainwaves –Quickening Movement felt by mothers (around 18-20 weeks) –Viability –Full term

8 Reactions to the Fetal Development What strikes you about the data?

9 Central Values and Questions in the Abortion Debate When does human life begin? –Human life is precious and sacred Never directly take the life of an innocent human being –Are we playing God if we have an abortion? What about the woman’s right to privacy? Why are women having abortions?

10 What Week?





15 Zygote 30 hours after fertilization Size of a pin head

16 What Week? 6-7 Weeks All major organs forming Own blood type, unique from the mother’s Hair follicles, nipples form Knees and elbows are visible Facial features observable Eyes have a retina and lens Major muscle system developed Embryo is able to move.

17 What Week? 12 Weeks Heart nearly developed Heart rate can be heard Most organs developed Red bloods are produced Face well formed Eyes almost developed Eyelids close until 28 th Week Fetus can make fist Testosterone is produced in male testes

18 What Week? 16 Weeks Brain fully developed Fetus can suck, swallow, and make irregular breathing sounds. Fetus can feel pain Fetal skin almost transparent. Active movements including kicks and even somersaults. Muscles tissue is lengthening and bones are becoming harder.

19 What Week? 24 Weeks A protective waxy substance called Vernix covers the skin. Fetus has a hand and startle reflex. Footprints and fingerprints are forming. Fetus practices breathing by inhaling amniotic fluid into its developing lungs.

20 Abortion Stats There are 1.31 million abortions in the U.S. each year. 48% of women now seeking abortion have had at least one previous abortion. The U.S. abortion rate is among the highest of developed countries. The U.S. abortion rate per 100 pregnancies is 24.5.

21 At What Point in Gestation? 23% in the first 6 weeks -- 301,300 annually 34.5% in the seventh or eighth week -- 451,950 annually 19.5% in the ninth or tenth week -- 255,450 annually 10% in the eleventh or twelfth week -- 131,000 annually 6.0% in the thirteenth through fifteenth weeks -- 78,600 annually 4.5% in the sixteenth through twentieth weeks -- 58,950 annually 1.5% at twenty-one weeks or more -- 19,650 annually

22 At What Point in Gestation

23 Primary Reasons for Seeking Abortion

24 Why Women Have Abortions – Primary Reasons 21% can't afford a baby 21% are unready for responsibility 16% concerned about how having a baby could change their lives 12% have problems with relationship or want to avoid single parenthood 11% are not mature enough/are too young to have children 8% have all the children they want/have all grown-up children 3% possible fetal health problem 3% maternal health problem 1% pregnancy resulted from rape or incest 1% husband/partner wants them to have abortion 1% don’t want others to know they had sex or are pregnant

25 Fertility Treatment Artificial Insemination –AIH vs. AID –Rarely done today –Insemination can occur in cervix, uterus, or fallopian tubes In Vitro Fertilization –Insemination outside the womb, in “test tube” –Then implanted

26 Other Issues Around Fertility Treatment “Spares” –Frozen embryos left over from fertility treatments What are the ethical questions surrounding spares? –Do we throw them out? –Do we allow people to adopt them? –Do we use them for research? Stem Cells

27 In Vitro Fertilization Marriage is both unitive and procreative Both AI and IVF are physically divorced from the unitive aspect of marriage Over 200,000 IVF babies in U.S. since 1981 Average cost is $12,400 Is the laboratory the “loving environment” in which children should ideally be created? What about unused embryos? Human life or simply lab material?

28 What to do with “spares”? More than 500,000 frozen embryos are stored in clinics throughout the U.S. What do we do with this “human life on ice”? –Allow the clinic to destroy the embryos –Allow the embryos to remain in storage indefinitely –Donate the embryos to another infertile couple so their embryos have a chance at life

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