Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Words of wisdom from Jerome Lejeune

Mary Meets Dolly shares a wonderful story of her father's conversation with Jerome Lejeune, the French geneticist who discovered the cause of Down Syndrome and spent his life working to improve the lives of children with the extra chromosome. He was appalled that his work was being used to find and eliminate these children in-utero.

The post also includes a lovely excerpt from Lejeune's testimony on when human life begins. Allow me to share a favorite bit:
When I had the honor of testifying previously before the Senate, I took the liberty of referring to the universal fairy-tale of the man smaller than the thumb. At two months of age, the human being is less than one thumb's length from the head to the rump. He would fit at ease in a nutshell, but everything is there: hands, feet, head, organs, brain, all are in place. His heart has been beating for a month already. Looking closely, you would see the palm creases and a fortune teller would read the good adventure of that tiny person.

Had I world enough, and time, I might be able to adequately sing the praises of this wonderful man. Brilliant, devout, gentle, humble. He was all the things I wish I was.

14 comments:

Tlaloc said...

"At two months of age, the human being is less than one thumb's length from the head to the rump. He would fit at ease in a nutshell, but everything is there: hands, feet, head, organs, brain, all are in place."

But they aren't all in place. That's the point.

GrannyGrump said...

Where the hell are they, Tlaloc? In his luggage?

Two months.

TIME PERIOD: 54 - 56 days post-ovulation

Eyelids and external ear more developed and the upper lip fully formed. The brain can move muscles.

In female embryos, the clitoris is beginning to form. The penis will develop from the same tissue.

Fingers lengthen while distinct grooves (digital rays) form between the fingers, which also lengthen as the hands approach each other across the abdomen. Feet approach each other, but are still fan-shaped and the toe digits are still webbed.

Primary ossification centers appear in the long bones, directing the replacement of cartilage by bone. This process usually begins in the upper limbs. Fingers overlap those of opposite hand, and the digits of the fingers fully separate. Feet lengthen and become more defined.

Tlaloc said...

"Where the hell are they, Tlaloc? In his luggage?"

They haven't developed yet as you well know and your own source attests to. I'll quote some relevent parts:

"Eyelids and external ear more developed"

MORE developed, not fully developed.

"the clitoris is beginning to form. The penis will develop from the same tissue."

BEGINNING TO FORM and WILL DEVELOP

"Feet approach each other, but are still fan-shaped and the toe digits are still webbed."

Do those sound like human feet? No.


Notice that two moths is a long long ways from the finished product. What is it you think the fetus does for the remaining seven months if everything is already done at two months?

A two month fetus is nowhere near having "everything in place." If you don;t believe me just flip through your site to the next stage and see if it deosn't mention new structures forming and old structures changing (it does, in this case taste buds forming and the intestines migrating among many others).

GrannyGrump said...

Tlaloc, you claimed that the parts in question ARE NOT PRESENT. Your exact words were, "But they aren't all in place."

And I find it telling that you refer to human beings as "the finished product", as if we roll off the assembly line at General Motors.

Why do you hate the unborn so? It's as if you went to ToonTown and a fetus dropped a piano on your brother's head or something.

Tlaloc said...

"Tlaloc, you claimed that the parts in question ARE NOT PRESENT. Your exact words were, "But they aren't all in place.""

And again I am correct. Notice how the taste buds are not formed yet. How the intestines are not "in place." I'm sure we can flip through and find other examples if you like.



"And I find it telling that you refer to human beings as "the finished product", as if we roll off the assembly line at General Motors."

Well we do have a production cycle. We are not created full formed. Nor are we eternal. Obviously then there is a development cycle that can be likened to a factory if you like.



"Why do you hate the unborn so?"

I don't have any hatred for the "unborn." It is a simple matter of being accurate and not letting sentimentality goad my thinking into incorrect paths. the "unborn" are merely tissue. Merely a component of the greater organism (in this case the mother). Treating them as what they are (disposable at the whim of the mother) is merely correct then and not a function of hatred.

Treating them as what they are not (human beings unto themselves) is similarly a function of sentimentality and not a product of love.

Rebecca said...

tlaloc confuses development with completeness. From the moment of conception we are all complete human organisms. Just like in utero, we all continue to develop throughout out lives. We are never fully "developed" but that doesn't make us any less human.

Tlaloc said...

"From the moment of conception we are all complete human organisms."

Really? So from the moment of conception we consume food, excrete wastes, react to stimuli?

Uh no. We are not complete human ORGANISMS from conception. This isn't that hard, people. Organism means a specific thing and until late pregnancy the fetus does NOT qualify.

Lauren said...

Tlaloc, you simply state NOT ORGANISM again and agian with only a laymans understanding of science and dispute evidence to the contrary by again yelling "NOT ORGANISM". It is scientific fact that a human at every stage of development is an organism.

In fact, nearly every definition of human life include the word "organism". Your blind spot on this is astounding.

I'm not going to debate this with you, because it's a bit like debating that the visually observable mid-day sky is blue with someone who claims it to be yellow.

Just posting so anyone who sees tlaloc's claim knows that he has the scientific credintials of a few college courses, and will out right deny definitions from medical sourses.

Tlaloc said...

"Tlaloc, you simply state NOT ORGANISM again and agian with only a laymans understanding of science and dispute evidence to the contrary by again yelling "NOT ORGANISM". It is scientific fact that a human at every stage of development is an organism."

I've given you the definition of an organism, I've show how the fetus fails to meet that definition. And in response you do what you accuse me of: baldly declare that you are right with not a scrap of evidence.

You claim it is a scientific "fact" that the fetus is an organism. It should be trivial then for you to support this "fact". Is one of the defining traits of a living thing (which an organism BY DEFINITION is the smallest complete unit) that they consume food and excrete wastes. Now a fetus does this at the cellular level, certainly. But human beings are not single celled organisms. We function at a much more complex level (having tissues and organs). Does a fetus eat or excrete in this respect? No. Does it respire in this respect? No. Does it grow? Yes. Does it react to stimuli? Not during early pregnancy (although it does achieve this far before the eating/excreting/respiring functions).

This is not me simply saying "it is not an organism." This is me establishing the contention. Feel free to argue against it but so far *I* am the only one offering any proof.



"Just posting so anyone who sees tlaloc's claim knows that he has the scientific credintials of a few college courses, and will out right deny definitions from medical sourses."

Actually I have a degree in physics and I work in a materials science laboratory that is pretty much on the forefront of our particular area of interest in the world. I'm pretty familiar with scientific methodology. And I'm very willing to entertain ration arguments in opposition but to date the only ones you've offered have been either poorly worded statements out of freshman bilogy texts or the statements of avowed pro-life doctors.

Rachael said...

Tailoc,
Try picking up an embryology textbook. I recommend "The developing human : clinically oriented embryology" / Keith L. Moore
Also I recommend "A Child is Born : new photographs of life before birth and up-to-date advice for expectant parents" / photos., Lennart Nilsson

Rachael said...

Tailoc,
Try picking up an embryology textbook. I recommend "The developing human : clinically oriented embryology" / Keith L. Moore
Also I recommend "A Child is Born : new photographs of life before birth and up-to-date advice for expectant parents" / photos., Lennart Nilsson

Rachael said...

Ooops, sorry about the double post, posting button (java) wasn't working right.

Rachael said...

"Actually I have a degree in physics and I work in a materials science laboratory that is pretty much on the forefront of our particular area of interest in the world."

A degree in physics (which covers science areas such industrial management, architectural, biomedical, and environmental engineering related areas) is not the same thing as a degree in physiology or health science. Not to mention, I looked up the course requirements for such a degree and they do not include any kind of human development courses such as biology, structure and development of vertebrates, physiology, and anatomy for example, the courses required for those who actually care for and study patients (both born and in the womb) So no, your degree doesn't automatically qualify you to be an expert in this area. You're no more an expert in the field of obstetristics and developmental biology than I am.

Tlaloc said...

"A degree in physics (which covers science areas such industrial management, architectural, biomedical, and environmental engineering related areas) is not the same thing as a degree in physiology or health science."

Of course it isn't. But the person questioned my knowledge of science and the scientific method in general and it is very pertinent to that question.



"Not to mention, I looked up the course requirements for such a degree and they do not include any kind of human development courses such as biology, structure and development of vertebrates, physiology, and anatomy for example, the courses required for those who actually care for and study patients (both born and in the womb)"

very true, although I did take biology, especially genetics, as an elective.



"So no, your degree doesn't automatically qualify you to be an expert in this area."

I never said it did. But I do say that I am quite familiar with scientific methods. I am also quite trained in the rigorous logical constructions used in science. And although this is a trivially simple example, that allows me to compare the attributes of a fetus to the definition of an organism and find the two do not agree. Hence a fetus (in early pregnancy at least) is not an organism unto itself, but is a component part of the mother. QED.