Is a Fetus a Human? What to know before talking about the morality of abortion


I know abortion is a very contentious
issue and that’s an understatement as I see a lot of people when they’re arguing
online in different places when they’re arguing about abortion is they basically
end up getting hung up on the argument of whether or not a fetus is a human
being or not and the science is fairly clear on what the answer is Is a fetus a human being? Before arguing abortion. hi i’m matt dom and this is jack wagon
so I wanted to cover the issue of whether or not an unborn child is a
child whether it’s a human being whether a zygote and embryo and a fetus whether
or not those are human beings are not now I’m not talking about abortion I’m
not talking about the morality of abortion it’s just that when abortion
comes up this seems to be one of those topics that people talk about and it
seems like a lot of people make some pretty basic biological errors when
they’re talking about this subject and so I think without any opinion on
whether was about abortion about whether it should be okay or not first you have
to establish this fact whether or not it is a human being that’s in the womb I
mean once you establish if it is then you can always have that argument about
abortion afterwards so I’m a biomedical engineer and so I know a decent amount
about biology but when we’re starting this argument I want to start this in a
way that you would if you’re approaching an engineering problem I want to come at
this from the boundary conditions and a boundary condition is just simply an
area that’s pretty easy to understand where anybody can walk into the room and
they can see that okay this is fairly obvious now the thing is what I’ve seen
is that you’ll have people who claim to be doctors and I’m not saying you know
they they for all intents and purposes are doctors right but the problem is
they say well I’m a doctor and this is my opinion on this subject whether or
not you know a zygote an embryo or a fetus is a human being and the problem
is they don’t really give much evidence backing that up they just simply say I’m
a medical professional and therefore you ought to listen to me the only reason
saying I’m a medical professional holds any weight is because we just assume
that that person knows a certain amount of information that the public comment
would not know and so what I want to do in this video is give you that
information that they’re going to be working with so when you have a doctor
who says you know I’m a doctor and a fetus is not a human being or you have
somebody says I’m a doctor and a fetus is a human being you don’t just have to
take their word at it because they’re a doctor and they agree with you you can
actually analyze why that opinion isn’t if you were in
the room with them or you had the opportunity to ask them you could
actually ask them why they think that and so looking at it a boundary
condition would be am i a human being and I think that is as silly as that
sounds it’s a question I ask because I think everybody can agree on it and we
can move from that point of agreement into more murky territory where people
do disagree the answer to that question is yes I obviously am a human being now
the question is what makes me a human being from a biological perspective
there’s a couple different things number one I’m a human being because I have a
certain DNA I have a certain genotype I am of the species homo sapien sapien and
that’s just the fancy latin way of saying that i’m of the particular
species that human beings are the other important thing is that I’m also a
living creature I mean I could just if I just had a corpse and it used to be a
person and they had passed away then they would still have the DNA and it
still would have been from that species but it’s not a living creature anymore
now what exactly does it mean to be a living creature in biology there’s
they’ve argued about this for a very long time I mean literally for thousands
of years what exactly makes a living creature now one thing that you see
that’s in common amongst pretty much all of the people who argue is there’s about
seven different things that qualify something is living now obviously
sometimes their name slightly differently sometimes they’re presented
a little bit differently depending on what biology textbook you use but when
you look at like the underpinnings of biology and the history of biology what
you see is pretty evidently is that there’s this pattern of these seven key
factors emerging so the first one of those is organization and specifically
organization on a cellular level and this is super critical that you an
object or that that we consider as a creature that’s living and it is
organized as a bunch of cells those cells then require a certain condition
to be met for them to because of their cell wall and the way
that they operate and so the next property is called homeostasis in
homeostasis is simply the ability of a creature to regulate its internal
structure its internal things like solidity like acidity or even internal
temperature these are super critical on a cellular level and it’s super critical
on a even larger level being able to regulate your internal system to be able
to do that that requires energy and so you need to have a metabolism which is
the third item to be able to have a metabolism that means that you can take
nutrients and you can process those nutrients into energy that can be used
for different functions now so depending on what kind of living creature it is
sometimes they have to go out and procure that and other creatures can
just exist in an environment that is called nutrient-rich the next one then
is the reaction to stimuli when a creature is in a particular setting and
they’re stimulated whether or not they don’t like the condition or whether
they’re stimulated by the presence of nutrients that they can use in their
metabolism they then react to that so in while maintaining homeostasis while
maintaining some kind of internal regularity they might sense the
temperature outside is changing and so react accordingly whether that is you
know in human beings if you’re cold you can just move towards a heat source or
you can start moving around and generating more heat based on increasing
your metabolism the next thing after that is then growth once you store up a
certain amount of nutrients from metabolism you can then start growing
beyond just simply maintaining homeostasis you can grow and you see
that all the time that things grow from you know infancy and then they grow into
adulthood and eventually they get to adulthood and eventually they’ll end up
dying and passing away but before you actually die and while you’re living
that growth is super critical because at some point creatures are always growing
whether they’re growing new tissues or whether the
actually growing in physical size so the seventh property is reproduction and
basically it’s just the ability to produce other creatures that have the
same genetic makeup as the original now in human beings and other creatures you
produce offspring that don’t have exact the exact same genetic makeup they have
some genes here and there that are different but essentially they still
transfer on DNA and you produce another creature that’s of the same species and
that goes to this last and final seventh point and that is the heredity of traits
so once you have that offspring you pass on your DNA to the offspring and when
you pass on the DNA to the offspring generally the offspring is going to
inherit certain traits that the parent had so when I have certain
characteristics like having green eyes or brown hair I’m getting those
characteristics from my father and my mother so I think those are the two
criteria that are required for something to be considered a human being it has to
be a living creature and it also has to be of the species Homo Sapien sapien and
that’s determined by the DNA of the thing now some people make the
additional requirement that the thing has to also be conscious and they say
that the thing has to possess consciousness the thing is most
biologists reject this and the reason for that is because it leads to some
absurd consequences if you look at it and you say well I have to be conscious
to be a human being when I’m sleeping it means I’m no longer a human being and
that leads to some fairly interesting things because why should me being a
person be entirely dependent on whether or not I hit my snoozle button or not it
doesn’t make any sense that we would say that you have to be conscious because
there are many points in your life where you are not going to be conscious and
that does not reduce the fact that you are a human being and you don’t simply
toggle from being a human being to not being human being to back to being a
human being again and so I think if we look at it and we go from the boundary
condition and we say that okay these two conditions are what determines you as
we can move from there we can say well am i a human being that sounds like a
silly question but the thing is I think it’s something that’s fairly obvious to
everybody watching the video yes I am a human being if we then go to a 9 year
old is a 9 year old a human being well you could argue that the 9 year old
doesn’t meet two of those requirements for being a living creature the ability
to reproduce and the ability to pass on hereditary traits the objection to that
by biologists would just simply be well you know that 9 year old is not an adult
of that species yet when that child becomes an adult of that species they
will have the ability to reproduce they have the biological code for it and they
have the biological code that they can transfer on and so the argument
essentially is that if left to their own devices with sufficient nutrients and
ability to grow into adulthood they will eventually have that ability to
reproduce and so you see that the nine-year-old still meets the
requirement for being a living creature and also is of the species homo sapien
sapien now if we extend this back to a newborn infant we can see that it’s the
same thing not much has changed between the 9 year old and the newborn infant
other than size the newborn infant is still living creature who has not
reached biological adulthood but it is still a living creature and it also is a
member of the species homo sapien sapien now if we look at say a fetus which is
in still in the womb and we look at a fetus that is say 30 seconds away from
being born not much has changed between the newborn infant and the fetus other
than simply the biological designation the name that we give it in in biology
and also its position it was in the womb and it no longer is in the womb and so
if we look at that it seems like at that point at least immediately before birth
a fetus is still a human being because it still meets the requirements of being
a living creature and it’s still the species Homo sapiens sapiens it still
has the DNA of a person or of a human being or of
you know a creature that is Homo Sapien sapien it still has that DNA and it’s
still living now I guess the interesting thing then becomes well what if we push
it back it seems like that at least should be pretty uncontroversial given
how we’ve defined what a human being is given what biology thinks about that if
we push that back say 220 weeks if that in 20 weeks into the pregnancy if the
fetus is born at that point the fetus can still survive outside of the womb
and if we look at it the fetus at that point still is a living creature and
they still are a member of the species homo sapien sapien and if they’re
provided shelter and care and nutrients they will eventually grow into a newborn
infant they will grow into a nine year old and then they’ll grow into a
biological adult if we extend that back even further even prior to viability
which is the point where the fetus could be born and still survive outside the
womb if we look at a fetus that is much earlier in development we see that that
fetus if still meets our criteria for being a human being it’s still living
creature and it still has the DNA and is still a member of the species Homo
Sapien sapien and I know this is getting repetitive but I think it is useful to
go to these different steps and to look at this right now the question is when
it’s an embryo that’s an embryo from three days up until it’s eight weeks
before that point in the gestational process is an embryo a human being and
it seems like according to the way that we’ve looked at it so far it is because
it still is a living creature it’s still if given proper nutrition and shelter
and you let it grow it’s going to grow into a fetus into a newborn infant into
a nine year old and into a biological adult and it’s still a member of the
species homo sapien sapien now if you go a couple days just after conception we
see what is called a zygote in biology and a zygote is just simply that
immediate process after conception until a couple days
afterwards and it doesn’t really look like a person and that I think trips
people up a lot where they say well it doesn’t really look like a person how
could this be a human being the thing is it still has the DNA and is
still a member of the species of Homo Sapien sapien and additionally it still
checks all of the qualifications for being a living creature it still has all
of those different properties and with the contingent being that it does not
reproduce or could not reproduce at the moment and other creatures of the same
species until later in life if if given ample nutrition and given sufficient
shelter it will develop into an embryo into a fetus into an infant into a 9
year old into a biological adult and so it seems like based on those criteria
that the zygote also is a human being and now here you might get people who
say well wait a second if we’re going to do this then you also have to extend it
back further to oversight and to a sperm and they say well you know an egg and a
sperm are what would also qualify and the thing is that’s not actually the
case if you look at it an oversight and a sperm are neither living creatures nor
are they of the species homo sapien sapien and the reason for this is
because a sperm doesn’t have a lot of those other checkboxes checked for it to
be considered a living creature it doesn’t have a metabolism it basically
just runs on a certain store of energy that it has and once that that is
depleted it simply stops working it can adapt to certain stimuli and certain
things like that but it also really doesn’t maintain homeostasis it
basically just kind of goes and does its thing runs out of energy and then it’s
done same thing with an oversight and oversight I mean doesn’t really do
anything it it basically sits there it does have a certain amount of built up
energy that it can expend but at a certain point even in the presence of
nutrients it ends up dying after a certain period of time
additionally if you look at it they’re also not of the species Homo Sapien
sapien they’re kind of in this weird middle ground right because if you look
at it both of them only have half of the different chromosomes they each of them
only has 23 half chromosomes and it doesn’t have a complete genome those
chromosomes can’t do anything without the other half and so what you end up
seeing is that if left in with plenty of shelter with plenty of nutrients those
things simply just stop working at a certain point if they don’t end up
coming together in conception they basically just stop working and so
there’s a stark difference between a zygote after conception and an oversight
and a sperm prior to conception one meets the requirements for being a human
being and the other two do not and so then really quickly notice that there
were no religious arguments made because this is something that gets thrown
around a lot basically people say well you’re religious and so that’s why
you’re making an argument and the fact is there are plenty of people who argue
on both sides that are secular and religion really doesn’t have a lot to do
with any of the arguments the other thing that you notice is if you actually
know much about the different major religions is if you’re Jewish then it
historically Jews thought it was somewhere between 30 and 60 days after
conception that you know a fetus ends up becoming a person or a human being if
you’re Muslim depending on what kind of you know branch of Islam that you follow
it’s anywhere from 0 to 30 to 80 to 90 280 days after conception and then if
you’re Christian a lot of different Christian denominations actually thought
it was 30 or 60 days after conception when you know a fetus became a human
being it turns out though as science has just learned more about biology and
given us more facts it turns out scientists have started thinking that it
you know a fetus becomes a person at a sooner and sooner age and to the point
where an embryo comes of a human being to the point
where a zygote becomes a human being and all the way up until the point of
conception because as we’ve had more and more biological information at our
disposal we’ve been able to make better and better informed decisions about
whether or not that thing should be considered a human being and as it turns
out given all of the information it turns out science would show you that it
is a human being from conception that a zygote is a human being that an embryo
is a human being that a fetus is a human being that an infant is a human being
that a child is a human being and all of those things are just simply the same
just one step along a certain process from conception into full biological
adulthood so anyways I hope that if people are having an argument about
abortion and things like that they can have a more reasonable and well-informed
argument based off of this information and you can start with a scientific
foundation for what you’re talking about so thank you for watching i’m matt dom
with jackwagon

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