When does a human being begin?

The discussion on abortion has as far as I can tell two aspects that are practically always overlooked in almost all discussions.

The first is that during the time of conception and the time of birth the relationship between mother and child is unique. There is no other situation where one human is life-dependently attached to another person like this, altering the latter’s life completely. This alone makes killing a fetus to something quite different from killing an independently alive person, in a moral as well as a criminal sense. It’s somewhere between murder and self-defense but actually neither.
But that is not mine to discuss here.

The other aspect is actually the first to consider: “When, exactly, does human life begin?” When could we theoretically (ignoring the other aspect) even speak of murder? For a murder to take place there must be a person. You can’t murder a centipede.

When you look at this image, where would you draw the line, “Now this is a human being”?


I think that anyone who claims to have a simple and decisive and objectively correct answer to this question is an ideologically blind moron.

At one end A) sex hasn’t happened yet. Semen and egg are still in different persons. I can think of no argument whatsoever that could call this a human being.

B) is in the middle of the sexual act. But the pair is using birth control (indicated by a condom)˛ so the semen never actually touches the egg. Only hardcore idiots who take the story of Onan too literally would call this murder, right? So, still no human being in sight.

C) is the moment immediately before the semen hits the egg. Nothing has happened yet, but it is practically certain that conception will happen. Anyone claiming that in this state we have a “person” that can be “murdered” is off his rocker.

D) is the moment of conception. Some claim, as far as I can make out, that this is the moment of “Hey presto: human being”. There isn’t even a cell yet. Practically nothing has changed compared to C).

In the first week F) we have a few cells. This is as different from a human as an oyster.

In the fifth week H) the human form starts to be distinguishable.

In the 16th week J) the human is on its way. Far from finished but decidedly human-y

After birth M) we have a baby. Breathes on its own and interacts with people. Still not able to live on its own for quite some time to come, but quite decidedly human.
(Some treat even this human as if it where the possession of the mother, which would make it not-quite-human, but that is another sidetrack altogether)

So. Somewhere between C) and M) the human being begins. Life as such begins with E) (at the latest), but where is the point that we can speak of a person that can be murdered? E) is ludicrously early as far as I’m concerned and M) is far too late.

But when? What would you say? And more importantly: why?

For what it’s worth: In Germany abortions are allowed in the first three months. In other words, German Law says, a human starts with J). I can agree with that.

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