Medical Controversy – When Does Life Begin?

 One of the most contested questions in history is a seemingly simple one: When does life begin? Different cultures and societies have battled to answer this question, and to date no consensus has been reached. Of course, the answer to this question has profound ethical, legal, moral, and philosophical implications. As the United States debates the merits and pitfalls of topics like embryonic stem cell research and abortion, the arguments for the beginnings of life have found themselves renewed. Along the timeline from preconception through birth and beyond, there are several stops where one group or another has drawn a line in the sand and proclaimed that life has officially begun. In the interest of providing some clarity on this issue, let us examine the rationale behind why these groups picked their points. As a reference, a textbook on developmental biology will provide some framework.

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