Tarry for the Nonce

February 21, 2006

What is Conception?

Filed under: Religion — lmwalker @ 1:56 pm

Father Kish sent me an article on a February 27/28 symposium on the The Human Embryo before Implantation: Scientific Aspects and Bioethical Considerations.

This is particularly interesting to me since I once listened to a biomedical researcher explain that his in vitro embryonic work was not antithetical to his pro-life stance since a human was not ensouled until uterine implantation.

I am curious to see what the Vatican says.



  1. Here’s a related essay:


    Comment by Matt C. Abbott — February 21, 2006 @ 2:59 pm

  2. Well we do celebrate the Immaculate Conception — not the Immaculate Implantation!

    Comment by Brian — February 21, 2006 @ 5:05 pm

  3. Diane Irving’s article linked by Matt Abbott above is on the mark. I have known Diane for many years. She regularly gave talks at St. Ann’s in NW DC when I was an associate there in the 1980’s. She is right, as is Brian’s brief comment, that the Church regards the fertilized embryo as human life requiring protection.

    I had a professor once who argued that true personhood and ensoulment was later, after the threshold of celluluar differentiation had passed and twinning was no longer possible. However, even if such was the case, those following St. Thomas would insist that even human life “in potentia” would have to be protected and given the same rights as fully formed human persons.

    The researcher who argued implantation seems to have chosen an arbitrary standard, given long term storage and particularly if the artificial womb should be produced and actual implantation can be avoided altogether. This would be an illicit way for parents to carry their children to term, unless some serious medical emergency or the death of the mother mandated it. In that case, such a futuristic artificial womb would simply be a better alternative than the current incubators used for premature children.

    I suspect the researcher simply wanted to justify embryonic research that is really akin to abortion.

    Comment by Father Joe — February 21, 2006 @ 5:32 pm

  4. Is the fusion of sperm and egg NOT an arbitrary standard?

    Comment by Troy — February 21, 2006 @ 11:10 pm

  5. Is the fusion of sperm and egg NOT an arbitrary standard?

    I think the creation of unique human DNA is probably the best standard to be had.

    Comment by laura — February 22, 2006 @ 8:41 am

  6. I think the creation of unique human DNA is probably the best standard to be had.

    Perhaps, but this is certainly an issue on which people can disagree in good faith. In any event, the best standard can still be an arbitrary standard.

    Comment by Troy — February 23, 2006 @ 3:11 pm

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