Embryonic Life and Human Life
Journal of Medical Ethics. 1985 Dec; 11(4): 205-209.
Shea presents arguments for determining the beginning of human life as that time when fetal organs and systems begin to function as an organized whole, directed by the brain. She defines the zygote and embryo as transitional stages, periods of differentiation and multiplication at the cellular level. After an embryo reaches a certain degree of complexity, development can continue only if its parts begin to function together at a holistic level, laying the foundation for more advanced activities of synthesis and thought. Shea concludes with a brief discussion of the ethical implications that this definition of life has for in vitro fertilization (IVF), experimentation with "spare" IVF embryos, and abortion. (KIE abstract)
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