Wallis Reid: ‘Absurd conclusions’ from faulty premise about human zygotes

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Published: 03-15-2024 2:47 PM

Modified: 03-15-2024 8:19 PM

In the guest column “What’s wrong with Alabama embryo decision,” [Recorder, March 11], Donald Joralemon pointed out that it was based on a faulty understanding of the biology of human reproduction. It also shows that the judges did not realize the absurd consequences of their position that a person comes into existence at the moment of conception.

That position forces one to maintain that identical twin babies — babies who developed from a single zygote that subsequently divided and developed into two separate fetuses — are a single person because both babies arose from a single conception. The converse situation also arises: when a single baby must be counted as two persons.

On rare occasions two separate fertilized eggs — zygotes that would normally develop into fraternal twins — fuse together and develop into a single fetus. The baby that results, known as a chimera, has organs that have different sets of chromosomes. Now if a person begins at conception, then that chimera baby constitutes two persons, because it arose from two conceptions.

Both of these absurd conclusions unavoidably follow from the position that a human fertilized egg is a person.

Wallis Reid