Dead or alive by Dr. Ivan Padovani

I am truly surprised that Etienne Grech (August 5) should still be touting the old abortionist’s red herring that “there can be no life before the brain has started to form”.

He argues that “death occurs when brain function ceases, hence, life must begin when brain function commences”. This line of reasoning may resonate due to its beguiling simplicity but I would have expected better from a medical practitioner.

He cites Goldenring but omits to mention that the Goldenring/Brady view violated every mainstream textbook of embryology in the known world and was clearly driven by motivations not primarily scientific in nature. It was laid to rest by Beckwith in 1991 and has been given little attention since.

The Goldenring argument puts the cart before the horse. Beckwith explained it more elegantly but the essential fact is that the older human being must have a functioning brain to coordinate and control everything whereas the youngest, that is, the embryo, does not yet need one to progress smoothly to the older stage where it does.

There are two starkly clear, reductive arguments that may help put the matter into better focus. One, an embryo is clearly a genetically whole organism. If, at any stage, it is not a living human being, on which of these two qualifications does it fail?

If not living, then the embryo must be either dead (so it must have been alive) or non-living (and, like a pebble, it will never become living). If not human, does it therefore belong to some other species, morphing by some magical process into our own at some randomly-assigned point in its life ?

Two, is it not obvious that the only conceivable starting point for an organism consisting of a huge number of coordinated cells is, and can only ever be, one?

Dr. Ivan Padovani is a member of Life Network Foundation Malta



Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

  1. Excellent, excellent Ivan! How difficult it is to have some people acknowledge that a new life begins at the very beginning!! Today in a Facebook thread a woman finally ended her argument saying ‘a zygote is just a mess of cells’ and ‘I do what I like with my embryo’, with the usual accusation that I was an ignorant bigot. I for one have yet to see a fertilized human egg develop into a cow or a potted plant or anything but a human being… Oh well… And yet the world rejoiced when eggs were fertilized in a lab.

  2. The first cell is complete with its full genetic information.

    It deserves the respect as the fully formed newborn,because if it wasn’t for the first there will not be the second. This is basic common sense especially so for medical professionals who have taken the Hippocratic oath to protect life from the beginning to the end.

  3. If a brain is really dead, the body wouldn’t function. So brain dead diagnosis are based only on severe brain injuries. Brain dead diagnosis really scare me, because nobody really knows with how little brain a person still can perceive life. I much rather prefer the diagnosis of death when a heart stopped beating and lungs stopped breathing.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *