home
RSS
November 7th, 2011
06:14 PM ET

Medical views: When does human life begin?

Mississippi residents vote Tuesday on a controversial ballot initiative that seeks to define a fertilized human egg as a person with full legal rights.

Anti-abortion advocates crafted Initiative 26, which defines personhood as "every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof."

Amendment would declare fertilized egg a person

If passed, the law could affect a woman's ability to get the morning-after pill or birth control pills that destroy fertilized eggs, and it could make in vitro fertilization treatments more difficult because it could become illegal to dispose of unused fertilized eggs.

Opponents of the measure have said they are concerned that people may not be able to understand the complexity and the consequences of the amendment.

The central question in this Mississippi controversy is when does human life begin?

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine represents fertility specialists in the United States and more than 100 other countries. The group's spokesman, Sean Tipton, tells CNN that his organization opposes the Mississippi initiative "because it interferes with the physicians' ability to provide needed care for their patients, whether that's helping someone have a child or keeping them from having children."

Tipton says while a fertilized egg  is necessary to make a person,  fertilization alone is not enough to create a new human being.  "A fertilized egg has to continue to grow, attach itself to a woman's uterine wall and gestate for nine months before it is born, and there are many potential missteps (that can happen) along the way."

Dr. Joseph DeCook, executive director of the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a group of about 2,500 members, said an embryo is a living human being at the moment of fertilization.

“There’s no question at all when human life begins,” said DeCook, a retired obstetrician-gynecologist.  “When the two sets of chromosomes get together, you have a complete individual. It’s the same as you and I but less developed.”

Pregnancy begins when the embryo is implanted on the uterine wall, he said.

“But we’re not talking about pregnancy,” he said.  “The question you have to focus on, is when does meaningful, valuable human life begin?  That’s with the union of the two sets of chromosome. You have a complete human being that begins developing.”

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine's Tipton points out that sometimes fertilized eggs split and create two babies.  "Unfortunately nature and science are messy and defy attempts to create human categories."

He adds that while saying personhood begins at conception is a nice ideological statement, it can create some real life problems.  For example, unless an egg is fertilized in an IVF petri dish, it can be difficult to determine when exactly a baby was conceived because sperm can survive inside a woman's body for days and it can take several more days for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus, thus leading to a pregnancy and the potential birth of a baby.

"There are lots of fertilized eggs that never become human beings,"  Tipton says. "Humans are notoriously inefficient producers, and we believe most (fertilized eggs) actually go out with a woman's menstrual flow."

Mississippi is the only state voting on a "personhood" initiative this year, but the issue could reach far beyond that state’s borders.  Efforts to bring the personhood issue to a vote are in the works in at least five other states including Florida, Montana, and Ohio, according to supporters.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which represents 55,000 doctors providing health care for women, says Initiative 26 must be defeated in the best interest of women's health.

In a statement Monday, the group said the Mississippi referendum has "wide-reaching implications that will impact access to women's health, including treatment for cancer, infertility treatment, birth control options, and pregnancy termination. This proposal unnecessarily exposes women to serious health risks and significantly undermines the relationship between physicians and our patients. The vague and overly broad terms in Proposition 26 will prevent physicians from providing the care vital to women's health."

In vitro fertilization treatments could become more difficult because of the legal question of what to do with the unused eggs.

An unused fertilized egg is a human life, said DeCook, because “it has the mom’s DNA and the father’s DNA,” The unused fertilized eggs should be adopted through an embryo adoption program, he suggested.

“We determine a human being by chromosome, so although they (abortion rights supporters) have all sorts of word games. They’re only word games,” he said.

After fertilization, “it’s a complete human being in the process of development. It deserves protection of the law.”


soundoff (460 Responses)
  1. Arizonas Vision

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday. It's always helpful to read through articles from other authors and use something from their websites.

    https://map.google.com.ag/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https3A2F2Farizonasvision.com&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNGaY_nlK9ozc51fqwjiVdMaYZL7rg

    May 4, 2021 at 17:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. truck tire repair

    http://biblioteca.unraf.edu.ar/cgi-bin/koha/tracklinks.pl?uri=http3A2F2Fcommercialrepairshop.com&biblionumber=359

    May 4, 2021 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RV Storage Orange County

    http://link.getmailspring.com/link/local-80914583-2b23@Chriss-MacBook-Pro.local/1?redirect=https://ocrv.xyz

    May 4, 2021 at 20:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. LebnEncox

    canadian pharmacy store http://xlnpharmacy.com/ canadian pharmacy world

    May 4, 2021 at 20:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. aika online review

    https://maps.google.com.et/url?q=j&rct=j&url=https3A2F2Faikareborn.com&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNGaY_nlK9ozc51fqwjiVdMaYZL7rg

    May 4, 2021 at 20:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. BbshMile

    viagra pictures http://loxviagra.com/ better than viagra

    May 5, 2021 at 00:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. western star 6900

    https://naturfreunde-leobersdorf.at/index.php?page=link&url=https://fleetautorepairshop.com

    May 5, 2021 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Headlights Orange County

    http://horgster.net/Horgster.Net/Guestbook/go.php?url=https://ocrv.store

    May 5, 2021 at 01:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. RV Parts Los Angeles

    http://www.lamconsulting.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.ocrvmotorsports.life

    May 5, 2021 at 02:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. judi online terlengkap

    Hello! I know this is kinda off topic however I'd figured I'd ask.
    Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest writing a blog
    article or vice-versa? My website goes over
    a lot of the same topics as yours and I think we could greatly benefit from each other.
    If you happen to be interested feel free to send me an e-mail.
    I look forward to hearing from you! Great blog by the way!

    May 5, 2021 at 04:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. marketing memberships

    https://cse.google.com/url?rct=j&sa=t&url=https://menmastermind.com

    May 5, 2021 at 08:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. FmrfEncox

    genereic cialis http://cialisee.com/ – cialis dapoxetine where can i buy cialis

    May 5, 2021 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. LbsoZisse

    how can i get cialis fast https://ucialisdas.com/ – canadian drug stores cialis cialis payment paypal

    May 5, 2021 at 15:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. used tires near me

    Good info. Lucky me I discovered your website by accident (stumbleupon). I have saved as a favorite for later!

    https://foaf-visualizer.gnu.org.ua/?url=https://www.ocrv.store

    May 5, 2021 at 19:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Page Eye Center

    https://www.jeanswing.com/cgi-bin/autorank/out.cgi?id=janetexp&url=https://sunglasseseyedoctorsoptometristphoenixaz.com

    May 5, 2021 at 19:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. handicap van conversion

    https://images.google.az/url?sa=i&source=web&rct=j&url=https://commercialvanrepairshop.com

    May 5, 2021 at 20:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. RV Body Shop Los Angeles

    https://clients1.google.tm/url?q=j&source=web&rct=j&url=https3A2F2Focrvandtrucks.com&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNGaY_nlK9ozc51fqwjiVdMaYZL7rg

    May 5, 2021 at 21:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. sportsmobile van conversion

    http://atoutmetiers-lr.mynelis.com/?ppz=96f4c49a-fecd-480b-ad62-8750b8388f92&ppa=mcatr&ppt=mctc&pppk=1194542&pg=pvps&mcidl=4&mspus=http3A2F2Focrvfleetservices.com

    May 5, 2021 at 23:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. large truck repair

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be exciting to read articles from other writers and use something from their sites.

    https://www.sportspromedia.com/daily_deal/redirect?url=fleetservicerepairshop.com

    May 6, 2021 at 04:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. accountability group

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the most useful websites on the internet. I'm going to recommend this web site!

    http://bruecke-most-stiftung.de/url.php?l=https://mastermindformen.com

    May 6, 2021 at 05:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. LebnEncox

    safe reliable canadian pharmacy https://xlnpharmacy.com/ safeway pharmacy

    May 6, 2021 at 06:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. JebgEncox

    canada pharmacies online pharmacy Voltaren prescription online

    May 6, 2021 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Leave a Reply to FbshEncox


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.