Mo. lawmakers answer the question of when life begins
Since then, the Catholic Church has conceded that man can never know empirically when an embryo gains its soul. Pope John Paul II said "the mere probability that a human person is involved would suffice to justify an absolutely clear prohibition of any intervention aimed at killing a human embryo."
Protestant denominations have a variety of positions on life's beginnings, although more conservative evangelical churches largely embrace the Vatican's absolutist views.
But other faith traditions disagree, and have for centuries.
''The Talmud says that from the moment of fertilization until 40 days, the embryo has a status of being nearly liquid," said Rabbi Yehiel Poupko, Judaic scholar at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. "The question for Jewish law is not when does life begin, but when is the embryo entitled to the justice and compassion of society?"
Islamic law closely follows Jewish law, though different streams within Islam have various views, said Abdulaziz Sachedina, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Virginia and author of "Islamic Biomedical Ethics."
Most Sunni Muslims "believe that life begins at the turn of the first trimester," Sachedina said.
Hindus believe in reincarnation, so life beginning "at conception" creates theological problems. "Life cannot begin at conception when our lives have not ended in the first place," said Cromwell Crawford, a retired professor at the University of Hawaii and author of "Hindu Bioethics for the Twenty-First Century."
Critics, including Kate Lovelady of the Ethical Society of St. Louis, say the new law imposes one narrow religious view on others. "A lot of our members don't believe life begins at conception — that it's much more complicated than that."
As polarizing as the abortion debate is, all sides agree on the subject of religious doctrine incorporated into government health warnings.
''We shouldn't be crafting legislation based on differing faith systems," said Lembke, the bill's co-sponsor. "I'd much rather use our Constitution."
(Tim Townsend writes for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in St. Louis, Mo.)
KRE/AMB END TOWNSEND
News Photo Galleriesview all
- 36901Oklahoma weather: Crews work to clear storm damage in Oklahoma City as the state braces for severe weather Sunday.
- 36295Oklahoma tornadoes: 'It took it all'
- 32626Oklahoma Severe Storm Updates
- 8549Wild hogs continue to be a growing menace across Oklahoma
- 5487OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti won't amnesty Kendrick Perkins
- 4132Oklahoma City Thunder: What could Serge Ibaka learn from Hakeem Olajuwon?
- 4021Oklahoma State football: Limiting Wes Lunt's transfer options makes Mike Gundy look bad