08wk_03 One place where I disagree with the Christian mainstream is on the issue of abortion and when life begins.  Most believe that the fetus is a person with rights at conception.  However, as I have noted at my pro-life site Citizens For Reasonable Abortion Limits, I think the point of personhood must be defined as sometime after that, no later than 8 weeks into pregnancy, and quite possibly earlier (see the GRAPHIC pic at right – 8 week aborted fetuses look horrifically human).  I believe that that position can be defended ethically.  However, Christians also want a biblical argument, and perhaps the presence of blood is more biblical than conception.

Now, while there are plenty of biblical arguements (most not entirely convincing to me) for the "life begins at conception" stance, today I found one that argues that life, or the point of personhood, should be defined at around 14 days, the point at which blood is first seen.  They chose this because of the scriptures in Leviticus 17:11

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.

Religioustolerance.org (a great site that usually has both sides of issues represented) has a nice post overviewing the various positions on when personhood begins.  The post on personhood and the appearance of blood seems like a stronger biblical argument than conception.   A good question, however, is, can that position be defended ethically or scientifically – at least, as much as any of the other positions?  I am thinking about it.

For an additional discussion of this and how it affects cloning and embryo research, see Human Cloning-Embryo Style: Deliverance or Captivity? (Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity)