Letter: Poor argument for life

In response to Tim McEvoy’s column “Central question must be discussed,” your position was on the right track, but poorly defended.

Your assertion that fertilized eggs do not constitute human persons because they are biological entities with new human DNA, just like unfertilized gametes, is misleading and misconstrues the position of life beginning at conception.

Unfertilized gametes and fertilized eggs are entirely different. Unfertilized gametes are only “half a person” so to speak. They in and of themselves cannot develop into a full mature human state, wheras a fertilized egg has everything it needs, most importantly ALL of the chromosomes necessary for development. You and I started as a fertilized egg, and we are still in the process of growth and change. The sperm that our bodies produced last month cannot develop past the stage of a sperm, a gamete, not a human. In fertilization, the male and female gametes come together to form a unique, individual entity with its own DNA and attributes. This new entity is different from the mother and father. Once destroyed, this unique organism will never exist again in time.

In short, a fertilized embryo is a person. He has all of the right parts, though he just hasn’t developed as far as you or I. The cloudy facts given in your article do not prove that “an embryo being fertilized by no means makes it a person.”

As far as personhood itself goes, that is a whole other discussion in itself. You arbitrarily decided that consciousness and brain activity define “personhood.” Tell that to the mothers whose babies are born without a physical brain. Under your logic, they could be just discarded in the rubbish heap, for after all, they are not human. Descartes did say “I think, therefore I am,” while others have said “I am and therefore I think.” Who is right?

Ben Coggeshall

University Alumnus, 2004

University Employee