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"When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." Elizabeth Cady Stanton



Sunday, 6 January 2013

Chimeras and their impact on the pro-life movement

Hi Everyone!

This is my first post in awhile. First off, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope everyone had as an amazing holiday as I did.

Sadly, it is now time to head back to school.

This blog post will be short, and it is mostly to ask my fellow pro-lifers what they think of an interesting biology experiment I read about recently (scroll down to #14 to read about it. Also, read the rest of the article, a lot of it is really cool!).

Baby monkeys!!!!

Here's the quote:

"While all the donor cells were from rhesus monkeys [the cells were used to create baby chimera monkeys], the researchers combined up to six distinct embryos into three baby monkeys. According to D. Mtalipov, 'The cells never fuse, but they stay together and work together to form tissues and organs.' Chimera species are used in order to understand the role specific genes play in embryonic development and may lead to a better understanding of genetic mutation in humans."

From my understanding of this blurb, what happened is sort of like the reverse of twinning? Do you think this has any impact on a complete pro-life philosophy, where we maintain that we are individuals at the moment of conception when we are (however briefly) still single-cell embryos? For that matter, do you think identical twins have any impact on this same pro-life philosophy?

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!

I haven't thought too deeply about this yet, but my first impulse is to maintain that distinct (from the mother) human life begins at conception, regardless of whether it develops from a single embryo into multiple embryos or vice versa, and so the mother still does not have any right to end what nature has started.

Another (possibly really stupid) question for hard-core biologists - is it possible that what happened with the chimera monkeys could happen frequently in nature (i.e.: two eggs are both fertilized at once and instead of having fraternal twins, the embryos work together to form a single developing baby?)

Aside: If you have the background to understand more about chimeras, please enlighten us in the comments!



  1. Regarding twinning, you could consider that before twinning, there was one human being, and after twinning there are two. Twinning becomes a form of asexual reproduction, no different than when a women becomes pregnant.

    Regarding chimeras, I don't know.

  2. I don't think twinning or chimerism have any ultimate bearing on the issue. The question isn't merely about what a zygote (or zygotes) will become, but what it presently IS: a living human individual. Even if it were destined to twin or become a chimera, killing it beforehand would still be killing a living human being. Whether one zygote later becomes two or two become one is irrelevant.

    I think, for those of us anti-abortion folks who believe in souls, we shouldn't necessarily think of zygotes/people in general as being given souls... we should think of them as BEING souls. It helps.