Defining the Undefinable: The Living Cell
December 19, 2001 | Source: New York Times
In the controversy of extracting stem cells from human embryos for possible use in the treatment of diseases, researchers must weigh not only the question of when human life begins, but what being alive really means.
Are the following “alive” or not?
Dr. Bedau of Reed College argues that the key to life is “supple adaptation,” the capacity of populations or groups to respond to changing circumstances by continually creating new adaptations.
In this vein, some experts say, the current stem cell debate, by focusing on human embryos in the laboratory and divorced from their ordinary biological and evolutionary context, ignores the connectivity of the human race — specifically, the relationship between the mother and her gestating fetus. The quickening (first movement) could define the beginning of life, says Dr. Barbara Katz Rothman, a bioethicist and professor of sociology at the City University of New York.