Fall Paper - John Brinck Philosophy 140 DNA Human Qualities...

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John Brinck 10/8/06 Philosophy 140 DNA, Human Qualities, and Personhood The article I will be referring to throughout this essay, “Image is everything, especially with fetuses” written by Faye Flam, takes the stand that abortion before 14 days after conception is morally permissible, arriving at this conclusion through the premises that follow. Flam argues that before a fetus is 14 days old it is not a human with full moral standing. These fetuses are part of the mother. Women have a right to choose what they do with what goes on in their body, and abortion is a choice about what goes on in a mother’s body, then abortion is not immoral. This argument looks like this: P1: Before a fetus is 14 days old, it is not a human with full moral standing. P2: The fetus is in the mother, something inside her body. P3: Women have a choice as to what goes on in their body. P4. Abortion is a choice about what goes on in a women’s body. ------------------------------------------------------------------ Therefore, abortion is morally permissible as it is a choice about what goes on in a women’s body that does not abort a human with full moral standing. Flam’s reasoning behind her first premise, that a fetus does not have moral standing until it is 14 days old, is based on the formation of DNA in a newly conceived fetus. For the first 14 days after conception, the DNA of a fetus is evolving and changing, and thus a definite genetic code for the fetus does not exist. This void of a finalized DNA leads her to believe the fetus, while under 14 days old, is not a human with full moral standing. She states that unfinished DNA alone does not impart individual identity. Her reasoning for this is that for the first two weeks after conception, embryos can still divide into twins, or, rarely, it can join with another egg to form one egg with two genetic codes (2). Also, the environment of the uterus affects the way the human beings form, especially when the presence of sodium ions affects the formation of
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the DNA (Toon). Thus, at the point of and immediately after conception, when the genetic code is initially formed, the being is not yet human as the end product is not yet determined.
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