Thursday, April 26, 2012

Could the artificial uterus finally be on its way? - Canadian Parliament set to define the beginning of human life

There is a private member bill in parliament aiming at defining the beginning of human life. Once a bill has been introduced it must be discussed. I can certainly understand the impulse. Our current definition of life was is 400 years old. But do we have enough knowledge for a new one?

First let's see if we can agree on anything. People have consciousness that allows them think about an action and imagine the consequences of their actions; we are aware of time passing. I would call that consciousness but religious people would probably call that the soul, I'll call it that to for ease of use. If we can't agree on that - stop here.

Can we try for another? No one is currently compelled to provide life saving support to another. Currently, except in Quebec, you can drive by an accident without stopping to offer help. No one can come to your door and demand your blood or an organ; in fact your organs can't be used by other people after you don't need them any more unless you explicitly say so.

One more? I don't get input into your medical decisions or care. I don't get a vote on whether to deny you a lung transplant because you smoked, or are old or anything. That is between you and your doctor.

So on to the defining of human life. This is pretty important because as a society Canadians do not advocate killing others. We don't have the death penalty and do not give up criminals to systems that would invoke the death penalty. We don't have euthanasia because that would violate the other person's right to life. But what about the edges? When does a fetus become human enough for our resources to be committed to it? When is a comatose person not human enough for our resources to be committed? How do we define the beginning and the end?

There are 2 ways (currently) we can explore the beginning. Through scientific discovery or religion. Let's talk science since that's much more of a explicit thing.

Anesthetic is fascinating. When we are under anesthetic we are truly not here. When you wake up it could be moments later or weeks later - hey controlled not-life that doesn't kill people! When better to study when we are alive (mentally) and find out where in our brain we live. Happily there has been research started that has some preliminary results.

If we want to define human life sure the best place to start would be finding where our soul lives and when it can take possession (existing tech). Next up can we make an easy to use, mobile instrument; emergent tech =  research dollars! Then when is that brain structure present - more research direction for emergent tech! If the structure is prenatal, how can we preserve that life while not infringing on the integrity of the host? Artificial uterus!


Okay I know it probably won't go that way. There's be a bunch of hand waving on the part of religionists making up some reason that it would be bad to know this stuff. Much better to overturn the CSC ruling on the autonomy of women and create an abortion law taking away the woman's right to control her medical decision. That happens and I hope I have male kin that needs an organ - like a kidney or lung or even some liver so I can take one of those compassionate folk to court to remove their autonomy.