There were many interesting ideas in the latest readings for the class. The ones that stuck out to me most dealt with what we define as people and whether blastocysts fit the description. Well the author (Phillip J. Nickel pg. 95) of an article in the class course reader suggested that because he does not remember his life as a blastocyst, and not because of medical problems, he was not “himself” yet. I agree that the cells that lead to his existence cannot be described as an early version of him, just a necessary foundation. I dont remember being a blastocyst either, but if I, or any other human, developed the neural capability to learn and become a person, the apporach to stem cell research would be much more complicated. Even when a baby has a heartbeat, it has no memory. The arguement here revolves more around the brain and it’s development. Even in animal rights, the reason for protecting many animals is that they are intelligent and can feel emotions. Still, pigs are slaughtered, despite the fact that they are as smart as some dogs. We can’t be so negligent of fact with human life however. So why don’t we look the other way with something that just has the potential to develop into a person but doesn’t have the capability to think or feel yet? A new Nebraska law forbids abortions after twenty weeks of pregnancy citing research that supports that fetuses feel pain eighteen to twenty six weeks into pregnancy. Brain activity does not start until twenty five weeks into pregnancy development. The logic of the author introduced in the beginning of this post may make it seem like he wouldn’t consider his cells to be “him” until twenty five weeks of development but he wasn’t very specific on what he did define as himself, only on what he didn’t.

I would argue that cells that lead to my development wouldn’t really be safe from experimentation until a fetus develops. Not only is a fetus a much stronger symbol of human life, it actually starts to develop functions necessary to human life such as brain activity and the ability to feel.  I would however call the cells “me”. They were a less fortunate and extremely primitive “me”. Just as the fetus was “me” during development, last week was “me” during a different stage in life as well. Last week’s “me” lead to the “me” I am now, and I will continue developing into different “me’s” hopefully after death. The sperm and egg that created the zygote in my mother are also me. Everything that my mother ate that contributed to my existence is a part of me as well as the teachings that I received growing up because it is all step that lead to the me that exists now.

Advertisements