23. Biology and History of Abortion



so we'll start a little slow because I'm sure some people are coming so this will continue with abortion we had two lectures ago we talked about abortion so the center of the abortion debate is when does life begin and luckily that's a question that biology can say something about what statement is the most common statement made on this not your own personal opinion and not an educated people what do people on the streets say mostly about when life begins but if what are you here what at conception and all right yes indeed that's that's the most common sort of thing that that people say life begins at conception and so this is in the newspaper this is a common this is in all all the media so George well how many of you heard of George Will of famous Washington correspondent Jesus in you've heard of miss he's syndicated like like everywhere everywhere quote it is a biological fact not a theological postulate that such life is a continuum from conception to death and then just before I was writing this lecture the first time most scanning the New York Times as I always do and there's a letter from the editor letter to the editor from a pro-life writer it is a scientific fact as any basic biology text will confirm that life does begin at conception the fetus is a live human being distinct from while dependent on its mother it deserves the full protection of its rights and that's that's what's coming up there not only is it what people most people personally believe but it's generally considered to be a scientific fact and I've heard this from pro-life people and pro-choice people almost indistinguishable so the question is you've all had high school biology at least how many of you had a college biology a few of you and guess what that isn't what that isn't it all what what a beginning biology textbook says and what does it say this is from you know they send professors free copies of textbooks so I just opened up one that they happen to send me and it shows something quite different it shows life as a cycle and there's no start point here fertilization is one of the events going around the cycle this is the essence of sexual reproduction we also know that there's asexual reproduction which doesn't have this stuff at all and the cycle is the switch between a haploid genome which means one copy of each chromosome and haploid and diploid that each cell has two copies of each chromosome and when the sexual reproduction is usually there's always some version of this one copy to copy cycle and when you look in detail this is again from the same freshmen very popular very big selling freshmen college biology text it talks about three different sexual life cycles and in the most one that you're most familiar one which is animals what happens is you start with the 2n a multicellular organism organism that's you and then meiosis a certain the splitting of the chromosomes so that the gametes get this is 2n and being the number of chromosomes start from 2n there's a process called meiosis in which pairs split and you get cells with only one copy of each chromosome those are called gametes or germ cells and then from another individual get a second end and you go back to the diploid phase so it's again de cycling around between one copy and two copies of the chromosomes meiosis and fertilization now in most animals happens that the big stage like us is diploid but that is not a universal rule at all that here is a stage which is fungi and some algae algae that have it the other way round they go through the same cycle but now the big organism is the haploid stage but there's only one one copy of each chromosome and that's growing in your garden there'll be a lot of stuff like this in most plants and some algae you have a third possibility whereas both are multicellular organisms there's the diploid stage as multicellular and a haploid stage is multicellular and the cycle goes goes goes around so the basic idea is not that there's a beginning but that life is a cycle this is what I don't know what your high school textbook sorry I was afraid to go look at high school textbooks my colleagues who read high school textbooks are always horrified so I didn't go lower than a college the standard college textbooks and and again this is not the only mechanism of reproductions of course a whole right of a sexual means of reproduction so what kinds of things reproduce asexually but none of this bacteria yeast yeast that makes your bread rise yeast that makes your beer yeast that ferments your wine and and yeast yeast is fungi between your toes they they they reproduce by what's the mechanism their reproduction budding they bud off mitosis what else what grows in your garden that you eat many mornings strawberries how do strawberries reproduce oh you are disconnected from nature strawberries grow up if none of you have strawberries in your garden in your backyard do you know who has a garden yeah what don't he has strawberries don't they have runners they have what's called rhizomes they're called runners you know and you have one plant and when it gets big enough and has enough energy it sends out a runner that grows the root it grows up a strawberry and then doesn't matter whether the runner is eventually cut and lots and lots of things grow by by runners which is get another asexual form of reproduction again since you don't have yards you but so pricker bushes the bane in the Northeast how to pricker bushes grow runners that's why your garden gets just over two if you don't get your Clippers out and be very brutal your garden just is overtaken by prickle bush Bracken is the is the is the more technical term for that so a lot of stuff that reproduces video to grass a lot of the grass grows this way and parthenogenesis anybody know who reproduces parthenogenetically a lot of some fish do etc this fish worms all kinds of things reproduce profit genetically so the idea that life begins at conception that life is any start point and it is really not what what textbooks are saying it's saying life is a cycle repeated organisms use different versions of the cycle and and many organisms reproduce asexually with no version of that okay this gets a little more interesting when you go from a freshman textbook to an upper-level textbook so a few years ago I got an old copy of the the upper level this is biology 241 reap reproductive biology because none of you have taken that now it gets really interesting so this is the beginning of an embryo in your grandmother or in your grandfather it doesn't matter and what's you I don't know can you see now this is not can you see tiny little dots here maybe if we turn off light you can see them but doesn't matter believe me there's tiny little dots that this line is pointing to so this is inside your grandmother's womb this is your mother or your father when isn't ever that's your mother or father sitting in there and outside your mother and father in the yolk sac which you think it was just for eating there's an epithelial wall and epithelium just a set of flat cells like a skin that bound organs are mostly covered around in an epithelium and some of the cells in the epithelium start differentiating differently than like a skin cell and they pop out into the center here then as development goes on of your mother inside your grandmother or your father inside your your grandmother not inside your grandfather these cells crawl up into the embryo through a tube and they sit in they come to sit up here in the cells they're going to become the rest of your gonad so your germ cells start when a developmental biologist or reproductive biologist discusses this this is in a sense the start of life in your grandma in your your mother or father's embryo inside your grandmother and then more events happen in the whole book is about those events well what are those events many and so this is on page 7 the beginning this is what happens in the beginning and when do we get to fertilization well here's the next time coitus and fertilization and this is on page 201 so there's 200 pages of events that take place in between and fertilization is not the first or the second but it's the third kind of event even in this one chapter and its purpose is the establishment of diploid e again referring to the cycle of haploid diploid and just to let you know that fertilization is not an essential event it includes parthenogenetic activation it has an one step that that can be done in the cycle as well as fertilization the difference between asexual reproduction in parthenogenetic is asexual reproduction doesn't go through a halving and doubling of the chromosomes in pathogenesis you in fact start with a haploid cells haploid organism and then that has mechanism for just doubling it without bringing in genes from somewhere else so it's like what a cell does is mitosis is the normal state where cells double but then they split this is a this is a doubling of the chromosome but no snow splits so you go from a haploid stage to a diploid stage and so while we're on parthenogenesis I'd actually didn't know this to like to learn till I read this it doose's this from an ozone induces many remarkable changes in the other side that fertilization but it's not essential for many of them and Oh a site may be activated protein gently by a variety of bizarre stimuli such as electric shock exposure to various enzymes or to alcohol so you guys that think you're having a big role well just bring your electric shock person it'll do almost as well and they mimic whatever it is that that the sperm does and what's interesting is the embryo the pathogen this is a human this is a textbook of human reproductive biology it can undergo cleavage implantation in the elementary cedra beating heart somites and four limbs the the the stage at which a lot of the right-to-life will show you as well this is a human ready actually can can happen without any intervention of a sperm whatsoever eventually in a human there are parthenogenetic animals and other organisms but in a human the embryo eventually the fetus eventually dies but apparently it's it's a deficiency in the placenta not in the fetus itself so quite amazing and again loosens up your whole mind about what is biology actually saying about life and it's not saying that it has the beginning and certainly not saying the beginning is that fertilization okay so having started this train of thought for myself we've done a freshman text we've done an upper-level text now let's get into the research literature oh I just underlined here's a research lurch this is science magazine which is when all scientists read it has the latest greatest stuff you wish you could publish in it and so forth from 2007 and it's about the germ line which is you know eggs and sperms and in the early embryo cells decide between becoming soma or germline so when I showed you the yolk sac and your grandmother the the soma the body are the cells that stay in the yolk sac can form the lining of the yolk sac and produce the enzymes I think which digests the yolk sac those that migrate out become the German germline and evolution doesn't want the germline to go through a lot of divisions because every division introduces the possibility of a mutation every time you have to copy your chromosomes but you can get into trouble so very early on back then your grandmother separates out the germline and holds it in abeyance for decades often now again the important thing is this constancy of the germ line is necessary for species continuity that's all the kind of stuff and here again all kinds of events take place the only mention of fertilization in this whole introduction to this special section this is a special section just on this issue is what is is in one of the later paragraphs now I was being very pleased for myself for getting exactly the right things that I wanted to show you and and make this point that at all levels of scientific discourse life does not begin at conception and then I step back from a little bit and what do I notice what's the logo up there it's a fertilized egg being fertilized right and I said oh my gosh that contradicts everything I'm trying to say because it sort of marks out that the most important thing about this whole process is fertilization but after my initial shock I get over it I look at and say that's a fake fertilization does not look like that and any anybody anybody's taking a biology course and seeing these pick this first a whole lot of sperms this isn't just one from sperm sitting like that's a whole lot of them and that would be a very nice trick to get a green Lois – a red sperm together and I said that's a fake picture and you know that you're not supposed to do that kind of fakery in science but it turns out the scientist didn't do that but these journals is the mass produced things science sells millions of copies all around the world so they have an art department and I don't know if you can see this but that picture is made by Getty Images Geddes wanted to become Getty Images visuals unlimited they're not limited or unlimited so this was put in not by the scientific authors it's not mentioned in the article so it you're not supposed to take it seriously and in fact you know when you go after this kind of stuff I just looked about two pages later and well here it is blown up so you can you can see that better and there's the exact picture from which it's it's come and you can see that the flatness here and this little thing here and if you go back they show you the flatness right here and the little thing they've they've they've shown you exactly inadvertently they don't mention this at all they show you exactly where they faked it from and what they just took this image and then took a red sperm image from somewhere else laid them on top and in gate and put them on there so yes I was going to say something about laying it on but I won't you can guess so what's the moral of the story of this glass little bit is that even prestigious scientific journals when they're not thinking scientifically will lapse into the common parlance is the society in which they live the important thing about reproduction is fertilization that's that's the common thing it's not a scientific thing but even scientists in scientific journals can can mess that up okay so the whole phrasing of this debate in terms of when does life begin is a cultural holdover from the many centuries when there was no scientific understanding of reproduction so you have to think well when does life begin what is the alternative to it being a cycle from life's coming from life that we now know is the case well it's got to come from something that's not alive right and and then that then the question comes up very naturally if you think life comes from something not alive and they say well when does life begin and what is that cold when you believe that life comes from not life come on had this in high school oh this did spontaneous generation right and did when did they do remember when this was shown to be not the case what pastor was the final step in it it actually comes earlier the first guy was Francesco Redi well first let me tell you so what are the observations that make that made people think that there was spontaneous generation and take a caterpillar in a moth so you have a caterpillar and it's one kind of organizer crawls around it puts itself up into a cocoon and if at any time not the very beginning and not the very end in the middle you open up a cocoon what you see is GU the the caterpillar has just sort of decayed just falling apart into it into a goo but then you look sometime later and out pops is beautifully formed butterfly and it doesn't look anything like the caterpillar so the only reasonable way of interpreting this is that indeed the caterpillar died it put itself into a little coil then and it it rotted it fell apart but that's very nutritious and out of this nutrition somehow came the butterfly spontaneous generation and that was what was believed about that you take rotting meat where do you find flies coming out of maggots where do you find maggots rotting meat rotting food so you do an experiment you go around you find some roadkill or something they didn't really have cars back then but this is all late 1600s 1700s it changes it at that time so they take a dead animal and maggots come out of it well what it is you can take the dead meat that you find around and put it in a jar and close it up and if you haven't actually killed it very fresh out come the maggots and you haven't let any maggots crawl crawl into it so then where the fish come from well shallow most people who fish a lot know it comes from shallow water mostly and they grow up in the reeds so the fish come from the reeds and then you get a little imaginative about it and if you read the literature from this era which I haven't but there's a lot of books that they're doing tell you the juicy tidbits is believed that it was possible to create mice by putting a dirty shirt and a few grains of wheat into a sealed jar and letting it sit for 21 days so that scientifically tells the gestation period of a mouse is 21 days when it's made from a dirty shirt and I think some of you undergraduates probably know that from experience so and as we'll say in a little bit human life was presumed to come from menstrual blood which is also dead and as a sort of a coagulation what kind of process I'll show you what that was about so in everything from an insect to to a human spontaneous generation was the most obvious interpretation of what what you could observe for many hundreds of years until the experimental techniques really took over and people started showing that was not true so the first real break in this was Francesco Redi in about 16 68 who studied butterflies and he did a very careful he they hadn't really used scalpels before and so if you pull apart a cocoon without a really nice sharp knife we get more mush get mush at all stages he used a scalpel cut it apart and he could see that early on that actually inside the the cat ability you could see the rudiments of the adult moth happening and then you could watch the development inside the caterpillar that was stunning to the world when when he was started talking about this to scientific societies that that a moth did not come from the rotting caterpillar but came from the cellar they didn't have the idea of cells back then but came from the body of the caterpillar itself then spallanzani when I went to high school spawns on a was the hero I don't know why instead of ready and he did the next step of it that was the next century seventeen he worked around the 1750s and finally Louis Pasteur showed that it was true also for microorganisms that was what pastor put the final nail in the coffin not only animals plants insects which are animals but finally microorganisms so by by the later 1800s is when this idea of spontaneous generation for everything alive disappeared and the phrase which was originally er but not proven was omnia ex vivo FX OVA everything comes from an egg that there's always some sort of a cycle of generation so so we've known for about 250 years that that there is no spontaneous generation that life is a cycle and there in cycle you can't point to a beginning so it's it's so it's very hard you know it's a sign of the just the persistence of cultural ideas that the culture somehow hasn't caught on to that now more educated people when discussing this in more detail understand that it's a cycle but they decide that the that fertilization is the final genetic sets the final genetic constitution of the fetus and therefore we can legitimate a point that as as as the origin point but of course that's not true either now we know in great detail and I I don't know not of course and reproductive biology but somewhere I've got what's going on here oh not good not good just stopped working something is going slow here all right well it doesn't matter so actually at the time of fir'd yeah the hotel I talked about this this later I don't know why this going slowly at the time of fertilization the the nucleus of the egg is still diploid and it's only after fertilization then sometime later that the the the female nucleus go through its final division and that's random which chromosomes are going to be included in the in the embryo and which chromosomes are not so the final chatter the part of the step one of the steps of the final chatter Constitution happens after fertilization if you again define fertilization as the entry of the sperm and then even further the female has two x's but in every cell only one x is going to be active so it again at a later stage in fact way after this multicellular division has already taken place eat in each cell and one of the x's gets inactivated and basically crumples up and gets thrown away so the final genetic Constitution is not set til a good bit of time after fertilization and we can see this in calico cats calico cats have these sort of biggish black patches and biggish orange patches you know well we don't have that with our hair our hair is usually all one color until it turns grey but in calico cats what you're seeing is at a certain point in development and you can count the number of patches so you know how many cells this comes from in one cell there's there'll be two sets of genes one which will have the melanin gene to make melon to make that black and one will miss that and make an orange patch and in this cell the gene for orange turns off and so you get a black the chromosome that has you know aren't the whole chromosome is turned off and you get a black patch and this one the one for melanin gets turned off and you get an orange patch and the number of patches tells you at what cell stage this process happened because each of those patches are the descendants of a single cell in somewhat advanced embryo so the the number of genetic things that happen after fertilization is quite significant and so even moderately sophisticated things that educated people you know believe about development and when it begins just plain wrong so the only scientific response to the question of when life begins is when does one say well four billion years ago you know the first cell in some slime of some sea somewhere or something life began and since then cells have replicated cells so in a sense since every cell in your body is the result of a split of some prior cell in a sense every cell in your body has been alive for four billion years you know there's never been anything anything dead in the past okay there's really more very more interesting things about development if I can get this to work okay so development it is very very chancy replaying very very chancy operation there so this is the germ cells and this is in a female but everything I'm saying about a female have happens in a male and what happens is from conception this is the number of germ cells that they can count and they get up to like 7 million germ cells and then again before birth they start dying so for instance in a woman most of the class is female you're born with this number of potential eggs you're not you know I'm sorry not whether you develop this many eggs then most of them die right away and then as as gestation continues more of them died at birth then they keep dying and by the time you're sexually mature there's only a very few left and we used to believe and maybe still believe that that's all the eggs you're ever going to have more and a similar sort of thing happens with sperms not not quite the same there's now recent research that seems to show that there are some set some stem cells the kind of cells that originally produced all these oocytes that there's some stem cells that hang around and that in fact after this period you can make females can make more eggs and for the the artificial fertilization artificial reproduction clinics this is now a really hot area of research can we find those stem cells can for infertile women can we get them to now make egg cells later so so that's one set of a real decrease in the potential so you start with seven million potential eggs and but you'll ovulate like four hundred eggs during a woman's life and this is what ovulation looks like this is this is an ovarian cyst proper thing and this is the egg that's coming out in there this guy's this doctor I guess is trying to extract the egg for someone either experimental or in vivo fertilization kind of procedure where they can take the egg and inject it fertilize it externally inject it back in into the family and all kinds of wonderful things can happen now after fertilization this winnowing of continues very largely so there's a lot of genetic death though now you have your fertilization the early events of really setting the genetic Constitution have taken place and often they don't work and it turns out that from fertilization and the next few weeks something like 80% of concept' is's die it's it's a quite striking fan I'm cold it's called pregnancy wasted wastage and humans have it much more than other animals and it's we don't understand why all mammals have the same process but it's really extreme in humans and there's nothing but theories about why why this happens and it's mostly genetic death so I told you that you start with a diploid cell the germ cell is crawling out of the sac and it has two copies of each chromosome and a chromosome unfolded is you know a huge thing and has to fold itself up it has to pair they have two older planet what is it 26 pairs have to pair and then they have to split nicely well that is a very complicated process that frequently does not work and what you end up with is instead of one copy going each way you get two copies in this say egg or this sperm and what and no copy in the other one then as events go on if you have two copies here and it gets fertilized by a sperm then you have three copies and that's lethal for almost every chromosome and if you have no copies and it get fertilized by sperm you get one copy and that's lethal for almost every chromosome so the only chromosome which there isn't lethality is the Down's syndrome chromosome where you can I think it's 23 you can you can survive with 3 copies of that and that's Down syndrome and you know the frequency of Down syndrome one in however many a thousand it is and you know for every trip low that's called triple because you have three copies of that chromosome there's a nolo you get no cause you get no copy you get the order just the one from the sperm or if it's the sperm that has this problem you get the one from the egg so and that dies and every other chromosome dies is one other chromosome where there's some viability so you take the frequency of Down syndrome you double it for that chromosome for the null then you multiply it by the 46 chromosomes repairs of chromosomes that there are and you get a number that just from this process which is called nondisjunction what the death rate of the Oh site of the fertilized eggs is and then there's all kinds of other genetic problems which I won't go into but the experimental we observe the empirically observed thing is that the action um is 78% I say 80% but if you read the paper it's 78% of fertilized concept is's then die very rapidly of genetic death and the mother doesn't even know that she's pregnant because she doesn't know anything in the first couple of weeks her period may be a little bit delayed maybe not not delayed at all and you get really interesting legal and religious complications if if well there's some theology here which you can ask me about later if you want to know but standard Christians are supposed to believe that resurrection is in the flesh so that you come back in this pretty much the same state that you died in and if 80% and if you believe then that if you add to that that life begins at conception that means the fertilized egg then that means that 80% of the of this of the embryos and of the resurrected bodies in heaven are going to be in a test tube they're there they're just a few cells big so it gets into into very serious kinds of religious complications it also gets into legal complications which is something a little out of place here but I can't remember what state it is it's a woman got pulled over so this state was she was on a highway and in HOV Lane the high occupancy vehicle language would have at least two people in the car and she was pulled over by the cops cuz it was just her and the cops are writing her ticket and she says no no I'm pregnant and so there's two of us in this car and it became a serious kind of court case and so if legally one decides that an embryo is fetuses is a person from the moment of conception then every time a woman doesn't have a baby or she drives you know the police are going to have to carry around pregnancy tests and examine this it's so the the conclusion not the goosh but another point about this is anybody know roughly how long it takes to get get pregnant if you're trying five months does that tie up with anything I just said if 80% of conceptus is die that's four out of five and if it takes five months to get pregnant in what month the other four happen well those are the four months thing there you on average did not get pregnant and that though this is not proven but the numbers work out that there's really no other reasonable interpretation that when a woman is having regular sex without protection not trying or not trying to get pregnant she gets pregnant every month and but floor out of the five months the fetus the concept this the early the fetus dies barely and she doesn't even really necessarily know about it so and then in the fifth month on average out comes a fetus so again legally and religiously that if one has the decides for themselves that life begins at conception and your and a woman is having sex that means every month a human being has died and there has to be a death certificate there may have to be an inquest you know why did this fetus die I did the mother like drink alcohol or smoke or do something that might have caused that to die is she causing the death of this this full human being and religiously you'd have to have a burial and a moral mass you'd have to do all the religious things that attend to death so the fact that's not widely appreciated that 80 percent of concept is's die genetically it's it's uneasily with with an idea that that life begins at conception so they so we're talking about the the the chanson as' of the reproduction we saw that out of all these eggs that are started so many died before you're born and then even those that get fertilized not many of them get fertilized because most people aren't having sex all the time you don't have four huh so there's 400 eggs that you ovulate and only a small fraction of those will get fertilized no matter what your sex life is like so the big death fair then of those that do get fertilized 80% of them die then of course you're well aware from this course and once the child is born up until very modern times of this medicine something like a third of the kids died as infants or children so it's a very very chancy procedure and there's elimination at all kinds of stages okay so I sort of hit you over the head over the idea that life is a cycle and that is of course the only scientific way to look at it mmm and when does the cycle begin you know can you even say something like that well sometimes it's necessary to arbitrarily put a beginning to the cycle so when most come cycle is the seasons is the year the year is a cycle gets warm and then it gets it gets cold and different cultures choose different Newton times to start the year so in our culture it's January first and why is January first it's close to the winter solstice where the lowest point of the Sun then the Sun starts coming up after that which is December 22nd well the calendars weren't very good and they didn't get it quite right Christmas and New Year's and December 22nd old or 21st are supposed to all be the same day but the calendars were not good enough to do that the Romans put at the Ides of March remember Julius Caesar getting killed then and I just read the history of that they changed their calendar many times but during most of their period it was the Ides of March which is March 15th Chinese put their New Year in February they had lunar calendars so it rolls around a little bit Jewish New Year's and timber and that's the lunar calendar so that rolls rolls around a little bit and every culture decides how it wants to set the beginning of the year it's it's conventional it's not a scientific statement it's whatever any of the culture the sides and similarly with when does life begin different cultures have decided different start points for this cycle of life one of the common ones is that life only begins after the worst period of infant mortality there's many emotional economic legal reasons that you really don't want to consider something when a human until they you're somewhat yeah somewhat sure that the infant is going to stay alive so among the Fulani of West Africa Nigeria an infant becomes a person and is given her name seven days after birth because that's the most extreme period the Navaho in America don't consider the child is alive again for this period of infant death and after delivery it's kept in a cradle board as a kind of an extension of pregnancy it comes out it's putting in the krail board and that's considered the mother is still pregnant with with the baby and this is very nice when the child laughs for the first time then it's considered to be to be a human being and to be alive and then they they Mar they've a big ceremony to mark this child's birth in some cases in fact that you read about birth happens at puberty and some of the New Guinea tribes the infant stays with the woman until puberty and even boys are considered to be women they're just female boys and girls are not differentiated and at puberty the male's steal the boy away and they have a big birth ceremony you remember reading about this and again or upon becoming a mother even because it's so in traditional China which means up until the Communist revolution if not later a woman has sort of two lives who may remember from one of your readings that often a woman a girl child is not even given a name number one girl number two girl number three girl they don't even get a name and they have sort of a quasi existence and in in this these parts of Chinese culture a mother is considered to start her life all over again at the birth of her first son not her daughter but the birth of her first son the mother takes a new name at this time and she has a shoe by that time have a family name but the son is never allowed to learn what her the name of her prior previous life was and for all intents and purposes her life begins at the birth of her first son you read the article about the Egyptian woman remember what her name was i'm gad and that means mother of god so again she takes the name which she use the whole life that starting a new a sense that when she has the first son mother of God hmm okay so the idea is that different cultures have very different takes on when life begins since it's a cycle and it's arbitrary cultures have a perfect right to choose whatever point they want for the beginning of this cycle and even within a culture and I'm from agriculture my friends who are largely you know medical people they all have very strong ideas about when life begins and the Obstetricians and Gynaecologists because the vast majority of fertilizations do not result in a fetus and the mother doesn't show any any signs of it the mother doesn't know there's no change in her body you can't test anything about money the they consider implantation really early embryo sits into the uterine wall and at that point there's hormonal signals going about bouncing back and forth between the fetus and the maternal one at that point the mother's body starts changing and so they considered that the beginning point and when they say when you're pregnant they're not talking about fertilization they're talking about implantation and this caused lots of debate depending on where you define this some like birth control pills and various devices are supposed to work after fertilization but before implantation and we asked someone who's talking about beginning of life at fertilization you say that's abortion if you're talking as someone the beginning of life is that implantation that's not abortion and this is almost never put out when people are arguing fiercely about these things that they're just using different definitions of of when things begin another very standard one very important in Western history is the ability to move so back then starting back from Aristotle the difference between dead and alive was whether something had the power of motion and that was called animation when you're when you moved your animate like a cartoon the cartoon is a fixed image in the comic book or something then you have animated cartoons and that's where they move around so the motion and you probably furthered the quick and the dead quick referring to moveable there's a famous book the quick in the dead and it's a very common expression that you're either dead or you have the power to move and so st. Thomas Aquinas tied together it actually comes from Aristotle we'll go back to that in a minute tied in Catholic theology the ability to move with animation being alive and that happens at we now call it quickening when the mother can feel the fetus start to kick and because that's another way so you can have the wind dambreuse implants when the embryo starts to move the neonatologist our variance in fetal viability you know can the fetus stay alive outside the mother and they argue that this is this is a sign of its an independent being because it can live outside the mother and so that turns out to be the the most delicate thing is when the lungs can function that a fetus or a baby can live outside the mother as long as there's enough lung function so for the neonatologist life begins when there's enough lung lung function so they can live outside the uterus now neurologist Simon neurobiologists of neurology are closest to my mind out of my heart but they're close to me they always define the beginning of life when is someone human as referring to some mental capacity that they can do it might be motor response it might align with the ability to move that they're looking for motor responses it might be brain waves it might be ability to sense something one variant of the neurologists point of view has gotten to some extent embedded in the public debate and this is when the fetus can feel pain and that's that's the point at which life begins for legal purposes they perceive it and there's some research on this question on an awful lot it's very hard to tell and what you can do what you can determine experimentally is we know this pain receptors on the surface like if you electric shock something or burn it or something this this pain receptors we can identify those we can stimulate those and we know the pathways by which it goes up to the cortex and so by the seventh month at the beginning of the seventh month those neural pathways are mature enough so that least the information that there's some pain has gone into the cortex we still have no information of what if anything in the cortex does does with that information at this stage it may not be ready to have any kind of response to it so I go on but all these different ways of defining the beginning of a cycle beginning of the cycle of life and it's it's up to you it's up to your cultural or scientific or academic you can do it whatever you want all of those designations are equally legitimate and equally illegitimate and none of them are a scientific question science will describe you all the stages of the cycle but it won't say anything about you know where you should say at the beginning of the cycle is it's a chicken and the egg problem just just very very simply okay so now you have this thing that it's it's not a scientific question and the tremendous cultural diversity on it there's tremendous diversity within the public of one culture like ours about it so but the law has to define murder because you know I can't go on murder ta because they gave me a bad grade and so the law has to define some has to accept one of these points and there's law has had a variety of things what the law but the law likes is what they call a bright white line that it's clear to everybody when you've crossed this line and since the development of the fetus in the uterus is continuous there's no particular point in time that you can say you know this stage is different than the date day before so no point during gestation would be a bright white line that everyone agrees that either happened or didn't happen so what they the bright white line today is Birth everybody knows when something has has given birth and I'll tell you in a moment that in in Jewish rabbinic law it's even more specific it's when half the head sticks out then it's it that's that's that's when birth happens that's when the fetus becomes a baby and pretty much the courts have stuck so far in America with this conclusion that that birth is the bright white line everybody can agree on that there's also a fair amount of religious opinion everything that quickening that's another at least to the mother identifiable event outside person can't necessarily tell this but the mother doesn't eat does not know whether she's pregnant until Quicken until she feels the baby kick she can miss a period but there's quite a few reasons for missing a period other than pregnancy so some of the earlier laws and and continuing into some of the abortion laws refer to quickening as as bright line as you can get but there the mother knows it before everyone else eventually you can put your ear or your hand to a pregnant woman's stomach and feel the kicks but the mother knows early but since that happens over in different pregnancies over quite a wide range of time over actually a month the month and a half before the kicks become sensible it's not a very very good kind of a line okay so we so far have that the the idea of the beginning of life is not a scientific idea it's very variable in cultures and so we still haven't really answered the question of why this idea that life begins at conception is such a prevalent idea in the West again other cultures have very different kinds of ideas and one thing of course it pops up to mind is is it biblical because so much of our culture comes from biblical ideas and well you know what some what what is life what does the Bible say about when life begins anybody no no but there's all this fundamentalism American nobody here well what is the cycle of life described in the Bible this is common and literature any literature major should know this dust to dust you how many of you have heard dust to dust yeah or something translated that earth to earth it's Genesis to some God formed man of dust from the ground till you return to the ground for out of it you were taken you are dust and to dust you shall return that's the cycle of life and if there's a beginning cycle at what age did God create Adam for something moderately explicit method created Adam in his own image well the image of God is not a to Sonata fertilized egg right whatever you perceive the image of God it's more or less an adult a person and of course right away Adam was able to receive Commandments to not eat the fruit and so forth and simile Eve was born out of his ribs certainly not a to sell a cycle so again in the Old Testament there's just no no support whatsoever for the idea that as a biblical idea that life begins at conception and there is no in the New Testament the issue just doesn't come up at all there's no statement about when life begins we'll come to some statements which are very loosely interpreted and in that way in a minute so very interesting there's two great Catholic and then Christian because Christians have inherited most of the theologians st. Augustine and st. Thomas Aquinas you've heard more st. Augustine came first three hundred and something and in his confessions he's interested in this question and he says tell me God tell me whether there was some period of my life which preceded my infancy is this period that I spent in my mother's womb was I anywhere or any sort of the person I have no one able to tell me that neither my father nor my mother nor the experience of others nor my own memory so here's one of the greatest Catholic saints and and theologians who's of course read the Bible knows it backwards and forwards and he is very well aware that there isn't information in that tell him that answer so the conclusion is that this isn't a really a biblical the idea that life begins at conception is not something that comes from the Bible I'm gonna switch a little bit and come back to this base kind of Phillips a little bit of the history of abortion and abortion has been known in history as far back as we can trace the oldest reference is from an Egyptian hieroglyphs in Tomb paintings so we're talking about the very early civilization as soon as people can write the writing about abortion by the time of the Roman Empire there are lots of references to abortion in the literature and there are no laws against the Romans didn't consider it and in there as I've just mentioned in the New Testament it's not mentioned at all and there's course nothing nothing with forbidding it so the New Testament the Roman Empire are contemporaneous of course and so the conclusion is that even though abortion was very very common at that time and used by all classes of people there was there it was not of an issue for the New Testament writers and at the end of the Roman this Classical period this judeo-christian way of thinking about things comes into the mainstream of Western civilization and there is an explicit passage about abortion in the Old Testament and anybody don't call it out but anybody know at least at least one person or to know what this passage is one two so it's a very very minor number of people so the Ten Commandments which you all know and you all know this passage also but all but I'll get to it the ten commandments are in Exodus 20 and the six of the commandment says you know you shall not kill and but what does this mean what do all these laws mean so the following chapters there's an explanation of how to interpret these laws this various violent acts that men do and which ones are accepting you may you beat your slave may you kill your slave maybe do this may you do that and there's a lot of jurisprudence in there you know what what are these one sentence ten commandments what are they how do you how do you interpret them in particular cases in Exodus 21 for instance what to do in cases of murder what if one man hits another with the stoner's fist what if a man kills the servant what if a man kills the thief etc all of this exegesis and then in this passage where it's explaining the ten commandments including thou shalt not kill it describes a crime that is much worse than a modern abortion so in a modern abortion a woman for whatever reason doesn't want to be pregnant she goes through doctrine says please doc I want not I want abortion I don't want to be pregnant and here's 150 or 200 dollars or whatever it costs and and please do this for me so it's voluntary on the part of the woman this passage and the Bible describes a worse situation where a man violently against the woman's will causes her to miscarry or abort and this is the quote when men have a fight and heard a pregnant woman so that she suffers a miscarriage from man is fighting the woman they're three goes after the wife rather than the husband when men fight and hurt a pregnant woman so that she suffers a miscarriage but no further injury the guilty one shall be fined as much as the woman's husband demands of him and he shall pay in the presence of the judges now that is a standard Hebraic the Old Testament law for property crime that you do a crime everyone knows you know they decide that you actually have stolen this from the person and the victim gets to say how much is proper recompense for this but the victim can't ask for anything outrageous so a judge has to basically approve the settlement that is the judge approves some you steal something well I want that same thing back or ten times as much or whatever it is goes before a judge the judge approves it if the judge approves it it's paid that that settles it so that's what happens if if the fetus comes out if there's this miscarriage but no further injury that's the result but it continues the message but if injury ensues you shall give life for life eye for eye and tooth for tooth how many of you heard that sentence oh my god that's everywhere in Western civilization everybody should have heard that that's called the Lex talionis the law of the claw sort of thing in it and it's very standard retribution for retribution so it's very very interesting because as a knife er die life for life well if you're talking about the baby or the mother life for life could be either even though it says the baby is gone already you can still you know people fiddle a little bit a life for life eye for eye and then what is the third thing that shows tooth for tooth that lets you know right away babies don't have teeth it's sort of the one thing that they're missing and the fact that that this passage selects that as the third thing to describe is very clear indication that you know it's not the fetus they're talking about but it's the mother so this is very very clear both from that so that she suffers a miscarriage but no further injury then it's a property crime you've taken away something that the father particularly wanted and their father is the one that gets to decide on it but if you do damage to the mother then you have to really really pay for it so that's that's the most explicit passage in the Bible about abortion and it's totally clear that it's the life of the mother the life and physical health of the mother that's the important thing and the Jewish Talmudic law which is not about what writing about it says if a woman is in hard travail quote and her life cannot otherwise be saved ones cut one cuts up the child within her womb and extracts it member by member because her life becomes before that of the child but if the greater part of the head was delivered one may not touch it for one may not set aside once person life for the sake of another so again a very explicit statement that before birth it defined as half the head out it's the life of the mother is the only critical thing but once that birth has actually proceeded then they are equal and you can't even save the mother's life in this case and what kind of procedure is this is just describing that's become politically very important now partial birth abortion it's you know that the the right to life people are very much opposed to but here it is from biblical scholars talking about it as when a woman is hard travail and there's nothing to do about that then you go ahead and do that so and of course this emphasis on the mother is exactly what is reflected in the Supreme Court decision I've given you the to read the roe v wade decision and again it's it's the mother that is that is the central interest but you may remember that the knew that the roe v wade divides up pregnancy into three trimesters the first three months the second three months from the third three months and the first three months completely of the mothers discussion the second three months the state can put some controls on it and the third three months after the sixth month then the state has a lot of lot of say in this so the Supreme Court decision is kind of a balance and why did they decide to break it up and why not halves why into three months and that probably again comes from is a biblical thing so one of the quotes that that right-to-life is used a lot and again you probably don't know this but to go talk to a right to life or if you're pro-choice whoever whatever side of this thing as a practice not seriously to someone on the other side it's very it's always very informative so there's this passage where Elizabeth is pregnant with John the Baptist and then Mary gets pregnant and she goes in to see Elizabeth and John the Baptist inside Elizabeth's womb jumps for joy and have you any of you heard this passage juice and these these debates again just a few it's a very very standard sort of thing and and it goes it's in in Luke and when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary the babe leaped in her in her womb for behold when the voice of your greeting came to my ears the babe in my womb leaped for joy and so this is taken by my right to life people that the baby in the womb is already a sentiment a sentient person a full person interestingly the story gives gives extra information Zechariah that's Elizabeth's husband they're very religious in their old may have no children but then God rewards their goodness by making Elizabeth pregnant it's a recast of the Jacob story where his wife wasn't couldn't get pregnant and after these days his wife Elizabeth conceived and for five months she hid herself in the sixth month Gabriel was sent to announce to Mary that she would bear Jesus and the angel Gabriel explicitly explains to Mary to Mary that elizabeth is now six months pregnant and behold your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived the son and this is the sixth month with who who with her who was called barren and it's it's amazing because the Bible is not and no other passages that explicit about the stages of pregnancy and this repetition that it's six months something special happens is very diagnostic and is is almost undoubtedly they don't explicitly say it the reason why the Supreme Court said it instead of in hands in these thirds of the six month because that in a sense is in accordance with with one interpretation of these Bible passage so it also is scientifically reasonable because if it chords with the time when the fetus does respond to external stimuli that by six months if something if the mother gets excited or something isn't detected in the fetal heartbeat and so forth if there's a physical bang or something you can detect it in the fetus so it's six months there's some sort of responsiveness neural responsiveness going on in the fetus the there's other passages and I put them all in your reading packet that that I put the the Exodus passage which pro-choice people refer to if they know it and the pro-life passages I put them all on your reading packet and you you can you can read them all so given the base of the silence except for this explicit really except for the explicit passage in Exodus about the criminal causing an abortion of this woman the Bible is really quite silent on this issue and yet a severe theological we great importance so what's happened is that is the Christian theologians have to rely on the opinions of especially the ancient philosophers because when they this all started in Roman Empire those were their philosophers that were I won't have importance as I mentioned to you that Aristotle argued that the matter of the fetus came from menstrual blood and but he got interesting after the discharge is over so he thought pregnancy started after menstrual flow has stopped so in a cycle where there was a menstrual flow he says after the discharge is over and most of it has passed out then what remains begins to take shape as a fetus the female menstrual blood however is incapable of doing this by itself it must have the stimulus of the male semen did you know anything about sperms at that time but they they of course did know about semen and they knew that intercourse was required what he did they had no clue male semen does not contribute to the material of the fetus he wondered what guided the development of blood and fetus and he thought there must be some agent that is introduced by the sperm which causes this collaborating blood to to take form and he coined a Greek word for this which later gets translated as soul and the the Western idea of soul really comes from this Greek this Aristotelian image of whatever it is that comes in and the semen that orga is does not contribute physically to it but organizes this whole thing and much later in the in the in the you know 1500 1600s when these issues became hot again this is one of the pictures of Aristotle's coagulum so this is is the womb and inside this stuff is mother's menstrual blood as it is presumed and it's gradually getting organized so you really can't see much for the organization in there but what you can see is the blood vessels starting to form and if in fact you do do dissections of a fetus the first thing forms is the placenta this is the most obvious thing is the blood vessels of the placenta the mother has half the placenta and the fetus has half the placentas I hope you know and that that's where nutrients get exchanged and waste gets taken out and then I guess in the original somehow you could see that there was a gradual formation of the fetus but finally the the fetus forms as some sort of coagulation of this blood under the influence of of semen and these you all know this story so we we now interpret Concepcion Concepcion is actually a very vague word and I have in here but there isn't I'm greed you like what the Catholic Encyclopedia says it is very very competent it's not anything that you think it is but we interpret now is more educated what how do we interpret conception we use it as the same ideas fertilization many of you make a distinction between conception and fertilization no I'm not gasps the opposite question but fertilization is a specific current scientific concept conception is an old thing that's something undefined that an act of intercourse is needed an ejaculation of sperm is needed and something goes on unknown but something goes on and that leads to conception but our current interpretation of this as fertilization is often now taken to be the traditional Western view the traditional Christian view but when was fertilization discovered when when were sperms discovered I think you know this what's the name person who discovered invented microscopes Antony van Leeuwenhoek you've heard of LuAnn hook I'm sure in high school you went through this he was the one that first had a little animalcules he took drops of water and you know from ponds and looked at installed these little things swimming around and he defined them as animalcules little animals and then he looked in sperm and there were these little things swimming around apparently I'm not sure that this is proper history they the spice trade was real important back then and they wanted to know what it was that gave Spice it's tiny tangy flavor so he's invented the microscope to look at spice so to see sokka's very expensive to get spice all the way from the Middle East going through mostly Muslim countries which who charged a lot to passage it and so it's very expensive they wanted him to list the secret of spice and they thought there was something in it so he then microscope to look at that but what he found was little animalcules and he eventually looks at sperm and he sees the animalcules in it what does he do he interprets it as the same animalcules in the water well the sperm is made of something the I'm sorry the semen is made of something and the sperm are little contaminants which are eating it up there they're just like like roast of the little guys he saw on anything that was that was rotting and so now that was a sperm but they didn't have any idea of what what what it meant and then it was much later they didn't see human eggs and mammals even mammal eggs that you can see eggs of chickens you can see eggs of insects that's pretty obvious you can see eggs of fish that's pretty obvious but the egg of a mammal is so tiny that it can't be seen and so it was actually William this is a number of guys which would have gradually saw it and gradually realized what it was but William Harvey the same guy that that that saw the circulation have figured out the circulation of blood what was one of the first ones to see an egg but they just knew about an egg and they and they said well I've sort of got rid of this blood coagulum stuff and they still had no idea what was in semen even though they saw sperms they didn't know that it was an egg so it wasn't until 1840s that finally fertilization it was discovered in mammals and that is actually the physical matter of the sperm the physical matter of the egg comes together so the conclusion of all this is that the culture our our culture and especially the religious parts of it believe that life begins at conception and believe this is a traditional idea that it goes way back to the beginning of Christian and even into the Bible but in fact the whole idea of fertilization only dates from 1840 and so it's a very modern idea and the whole and then going further the whole idea of life having a beginning just doesn't make any scientific sense because we know and have known for hundreds of years that that life is a cycle and so there's much more you have some very interesting reading on this topic in this infinite amount of reading that you can do on it but that's all I'll say on it for today

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