Long ago, scientists made a list of seven attributes that all life-forms must meet in order to be considered living. Up until the past few years, there hasn't been any arguments on whether something was alive or not. In today's society, there is huge controversy about when human life begins. Does it begin when the fetus has hands or a brain, when the baby is born, at conception, or at another stage? This article exists to explain how and why life begins at conception.
In order to be considered alive, the subject must meet all seven characteristics of life.
We have all learned about the seven traits of life in middle school, so I know you all are familiar with them. Let's review in case you forgot. An object is categorized as living if it... is made of cells, changes and adapts, reproduces, develops and grows, is organized, uses energy, and responds to stimuli.
To begin, Let's test out a plant to see if it's living. Is a plant made of cells? Of course. Does it change and adapt? Yep, it sure does. For example, the leaves fall off during fall and grow back in spring.
Can plants reproduce? Yeah, in fact, a plant's reproductive life is more active than mine. Let that sink in for a bit. Do plants grow? I feel stupid for asking this. Are they organized?
Take a look at their boxy cells in rows and columns. Do they use energy? Photosynthesis, dude. Do plants respond to a stimulus? Another yes! They grow towards the sunlight, boom.
So, you're telling me a plant is more alive than a fetus? Scientists get all excited about a single cell found on Mars, calling it life. People see a fertilized egg and say, "Meh, it's just a cell." I don't think so. Let's do this process again, but looking at a fertilized human egg, then you can decide for yourself when life begins.
Criteria #1: Must be made of cells
Let's dive right in and decipher whether or not life begins at fertilization. The first point I must address is that a fertilized human egg is in fact made of cells. What do you call the sperm and egg? Cells.
So as soon as the sperm fuses with the egg, there are already two cells, to begin with. Not to mention, the zygote (fertilized egg) will start rapidly dividing into more and more cells. Cells galore! Point number one, check.
Criteria #2: Must change and adapt
Some people may say that the zygote can't change or adapt because it is only a simple unit consisting of two cells. However, the zygote is continuously growing and changing shape.
Every second of the pregnancy, the fetus is becoming more complex and unique. Alexis Helenbolt, Live Action ambassador, adds to this saying, "Just like it (the zygote) changes to an embryo and then a fetus, an infant, toddler, teen, and adult.
We are all changing and developing. What moves a fetus to an adult is not an external collection of parts but an internal, defining nature or essence.
As the zygote develops, it does not become more of its kind but matures according to its kind." It all starts at conception. If it weren't for conception, there would be no baby to speak of.
Criteria #3: Must reproduce
Shown above is DNA replication. This is how the cells of the zygote reproduce. These cells are constantly replicating, reproducing, and dividing. Simple. Also, fun fact, when a baby is born, they have all the eggs that they will need for the rest of their life. So you were inside your grandmother when she was pregnant with your mother.
Scary, I know. No one wants to think about being inside of their grandma. Sorry. :/
Criteria #4: Must grow
The instant that conception occurs, the cell starts dividing and getting bigger. The very second that a woman becomes pregnant, the zygote starts growing into a healthy, beautiful baby.
Suzanne Marie Rossiter, another Live Action ambassador, states that, "if the zygote didn't grow, change, and develop, then the baby wouldn't get any bigger, we'd never be able to see them on an ultrasound, a woman's belly would never grow, and she would never give birth."
Life doesn't just automatically start out of the blue when the baby is born or when the baby has fingers and toes. It starts with the fertilized egg, people!
Criteria #5: Must be organized
Zygotes start out with two cells: the egg and the sperm. Within those two cells is DNA, mitochondria (THE POWERHOUSE OF THE CELL - you're welcome, I couldn't let that one go), Golgi bodies, etc. Zoom in on DNA.
DNA has a very composed, organized, and precise structure. Paula Adams, Live Action ambassador, shares, "The zygote has all the unique genetic material needed to become a fully developed human." Every part of the ovum is thought out and placed accordingly. The zygote is anything but disorganized.
Criteria #6: Must use energy
Zygotes use energy as soon as they are formed. Energy is used to replicate cells and form the fetus. All bodily functions use ATP (energy). Case closed.
Criteria #7: Must respond to stimulus
"Wait, what? A small zygote can respond to stimulus?" you say? Well sure, why not. What happens when you smoke and drink during pregnancy? The baby could miscarry or be born with defects.
What happens when you constantly nurture it and take care of yourself? The baby will be happy and healthy! Give the zygote a negative stimulus, there will be a negative result. Give it a positive and healthy stimulus, the zygote will respond positively.
You're turn to decide.
So the does life begin? I'll let you decide for yourself, but science has just shown and proven the life does indeed begin at conception. A zygote is just as alive like a plant or a single cell on Mars.
Thank you for coming and listening to my TED talk. *drops mic, walks off stage*