Abortion, Stem Cells, Contraceptions and Misconceptions

The issue of when "life" is brought into being and the capability of suffering of the unborn is a driving political force in the world today.  It is a hotly debated topic and many who make claims on the issue have very little knowledge on the subject.  When does the capability of suffering arise?  Is the suffering brought by an unwanted pregnancy trump the suffering of an embryo?  What constitutes an embryo?  Does stem cell research impose suffering on the "unborn"?  Is contraception immoral?  What rights do the unborn have?  These are some of the primary questions argued in discourse on the matter.


In order to fully understand the development from conception, I'll offer a Mayo Clinic link for anyone that isn't familiar with the process.




Now that we have an understanding of the development of conception we can begin to discuss an answer to these questions.


The first issue I'd like to address is suffering.  Even though suffering is a subjective concept, it is morally important to human existence.  Anyone with an empathetic desire to further the human race must seek to mitigate suffering as much as is humanly possible.  What causes physical and emotional suffering?  Human beings are capable of suffering because they have a vast network of neurons that interpret all sorts of signals.  We have receptors for pain, pleasure, sight, sound, touch, smell, taste and many others that form this network via the neurons that make up our nervous system.  The entire experience of life is dictated by this system via nerves that relay signals to our brain where the signals are processed into experience. 


At conception, a sperm and an egg unite 23 chromosomes from each partner called a zygote.  Religious doctrine may dictate that this is the founding moment of the "soul" and experience.  One single cell constitutes life and it's intentional extinguishing constitutes murder.  The fundamental question is:  does this cell and the cells that it divides into have the capability of experience and thus must it be entitled to rights?  Rational thought says absolutely not.  Just as your skin cells are formed, "live" and die, a zygote cannot possibly experience anything, as it doesn't have the necessary material to do so.  


After the zygote starts traveling down the fallopian tube, it starts dividing.  When this occurs, it is now referred to as a blastocyst.  It is a mass of about 200 cells with the interior cells known as stem cells.  These cells are undifferentiated yet possess the capability to become any type of cell that makes up the human body.  This realization and the study of it could lead to the most advanced methods of medical science.  One day a liver, nerve, heart, practically any part of the body could be made or regenerated from these cells.  Is this small mass of cells capable of feeling pain?  Considering that there is no nervous tissue to transmit a signal nor any material capable of interpreting it, surely not.


Stem cell research could very well lead to a cure for paralysis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, and a host of other diseases that break down the cellular systems of the human body.  The question is:  does the suffering of a blastocyst trump the suffering of a living person?  The answer has to be no.  As far as science can tell, a blastocyst is not in any way capable of suffering at all.  


What then of abortion?  At some point in the development, an embryo develops neurons and a nervous system.  It should be at this stage that suffering could occur.  The argument that abortion at the zygote or blastocyst stage is immoral is for all intents and purposes ridiculous.   When the possibility of real suffering exists, where do we draw the line?  Insects have a developed nervous system.  Man frequently ends their existence to prevent his own suffering at the hands of them.  Mammals on the other hand have a better developed nervous system and are capable even of crying out in pain.  We show them much more respect because we believe they are capable of a higher level of suffering.  A developed fetus is probably capable of suffering.  A child more so, and an adult human even more.  There should be some point when we rationally can say that the suffering caused by an abortion is unwarranted, but when does this happen?  It is a question that needs to be discussed and investigated without interference from religious doctrine.


The amount of suffering placed on one person by the action or inaction of another can and should be philosophically debated.  Does a slightly developed fetus have rights?  At what stage are these rights implemented?  If an impoverished person becomes pregnant and it is obvious that the birth of the child will cause suffering to the parent and the child, should the mother be allowed to intercede?  I would posit that the unwanted child and it's mother and/or father can be made to incur an excessive level of suffering upon the birth of the child.  It would be much more favorable if this philosophical question need not be answered but that is an unrealistic goal that will never come to fruition.  


To that end, the question of contraception is not and should not even be a question.  An egg and a sperm are certainly not capable of suffering and the possible birth of a child should never be considered "sacred".  If such were the case, every stain on the sheets would be equivalent to a holocaust.  The resources of the planet on which man lives are most definitely limited. The Catholic church commits an atrocity by it's anti-condom and birth control message.  Families should be morally free to choose how many children they will have and definitely to choose whether they will risk the infection of venereal disease in their encounters.  Society needs to have a rational discussion on the morality of conception and it's consequences.  Religion should be excluded from this debate.

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geez man, change you're font color! lol
Sorry, I don't see any color problem. I have a black background with white text. What does it look like to you?
Thank you!
I definitely agree with your post. I am absolutely not against stem cell research, and in fact I think only an immoral person would be, because by preventing the abortion of a few day old blastocysts to try and prevent some sort of imaginary suffering they aren't capable of feeling, they're causing the possibly horrific suffering and probably death of another individual that definitely does have a nervous system and can experience suffering with full cognition.

Thanks for the insight. :)
Ava- Thanks for the response. It's time that science is allowed to do it's work to end human suffering, hopefully without moral mistakes.
If anyone has an idea or insight into exactly when or if abortion is morally unjustified, I'd love to hear it. Especially if there is anyone on this forum that works in medicine, biology, or ethics.
I don't mind if babies are killed to help further research >.> sounds heartless cause it is.. lol If the parents are okay with it...its fine by me, go for it.
I'm just glad we are not using the "when a soul is instated" argument. lol
Yeah Im going to have to agree that the soul theory is....well, not what I want to hear.

I think if there was a deadline on abortion it would have to be if the baby could be born at that time and live, you shouldn't be able to abort it.. babies have been born as early as six months... Soo you know >.>

Also I think abortion should be free if its in the name of science, the bodies could be bought that from the clinics that way.. Donor goes to clinic for free, then science buys the remains for a price. wow I feel like a horrible person but its how I feel. >.>
I am not sure if I could have an abortion or not. I do believe it is each female's right to decide for herself if she has one or not though.

I kind of like what you said though... like may not be the right word. Think about it though. I find out I am pregnant.. I know I will not have the means to properly care for the child. So at 2-3 months, does the fetus even have a fully formed brain with pain receptors to actually feel the pain of an abortion? If not, why not abort the fetus, and use it to possibly help science along with finding cures to diseases? I lost my grandmother in 2007, and a very close friend just under two months ago.. to cancer. If aborting my fetus that can't even feel pain, might in some way assist scientists/doctors in finding a cure for cancer so it can never take anyone else from me... I think I'd do it.

Thanks Seth, for making me think about that. Like I said, I've never been totally against abortion anyway, but these kinds of thoughts make me more strongly in favor of giving people a choice.
When do nerve endings form Zach? My beliefs tell me that there is no such thing as a soul. Ours might differ but if you don't believe in a soul then what does it matter if the baby is killed when it can feel or not feel? It won't remember it, promise. The only bad that comes of it is you feel guilty. Which is why it should be left up to the mother of the child. Men can get women pregnant anytime no big deal, so I don't think that men should have a say so in the matter. We kill 100 million sperm every time we jack off. Thats 100 million potential humans..yet guys have no problem jacking off (: something to think about...
I see what you mean, people just have to be educated D: What a task.


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