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Jack Sisson's Life Ethics Blog

We must find new ways through many ethical issues, especially regarding bioethics, medical ethics, and criminal justice. Jack Sisson's 'Life Ethics' blog focuses on numerous areas of concern, including the philosophical and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem-cell research, abortion, medical research, and health care.

Although identical twins are from the same fertilized egg and share the exact same DNA, their fingerprints are always different. Apparently, fingerprints are not predetermined in the zygote.

So how do we reconcile this fact with the idea that the fertilized egg is a unique human being? In the case of identical twins (or even triplets), that zygote is not a unique human being. Or if it is, and if human life begins at conception, then it must be more than one unique human being. But I find it problematic to argue that the zygote is two or three unique human beings before it even splits. So what is it?

And what about the fingerprints? Are they pre-determined or do they appear by chance? If they're pre-destined, then the twins or triplets must be pre-destined also. But why do some zygotes split as early as eight days and some as late as sixteen days?

And what of ensoulment? If the fertilized egg is a unique human being, as is argued by the Catholic Church and others who designate themselves pro-life, then does it have a soul at that time? If it is a zygote destined to split into two or three embryos, does the original fertilized egg possess multiple souls? Or do the souls enter the embryo after the split? If that's the case, then human life cannot begin at conception because at that point, we're not even sure how many embryos there will be.

If anyone has some thoughts about this, I look forward to hearing them.

Next: And Two Become One -- Chimeras

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