The Brain-Life Theory: Towards a Consistent Biological Definition of Humanness
Goldenring, John M.
Journal of Medical Ethics. 1985 Dec; 11(4): 198-204.
The unsettled question of when human life begins is a key issue in the abortion debate, and often figures in discussions of birth control, treatment of rape victims, fetal research, in vitro fertilization, and disposal of fetal remains. Goldenring proposes a brain-life theory, which maintains that a fetus becomes a biological human being when its brain begins to function at about eight weeks, and argues that this definition of humanness can be determined medically and scientifically, and has relevance for ethical, legal, and public policy decision making. He examines the problems created by other theories of humanness, such as "at conception" and "at viability," and discusses the implications of the brain-life theory for abortion and other bioethical issues such as fetal research. (KIE abstract)
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