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Salon: Biologist says biology does not determine when human life begins; Perhaps future biologists will learn more

Sahotra Sarkar is a professor of philosophy and integrative biology at the University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts. He’s written a piece that’s been picked up by Salon about when life begins. Sarkar says that the question can’t be answered by biologists and is thus left to politicians and judges to determine.


Sarkar writes:

The overall point is that biology does not determine when human life begins. It is a question that can only be answered by appealing to our values, examining what we take to be human.

Perhaps biologists of the future will learn more. Until then, when human life begins during fetal developments is a question for philosophers and theologians. And policies based on an answer to that question will remain up to politicians – and judges.

Sarkar gives four possible points in pregnancy when life can be considered to begin, from fertilization to birth itself. But about the argument that life begins at conception because a human’s full genetic sequence exists, Sarkar explains, “If genetic material alone makes a potential human being, then when we shed skin cells – as we do all the time – we are severing potential human beings.”



What is it that future biologists might find that will help us determine when life begins?


Here’s the thing: If you’re pro-choice, then it shouldn’t matter to you when life begins. Just admit it begins at conception and then go ahead and have your abortion on demand, without apology.



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