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Person 1: The beginning of personhood should be an instant. Fertilization is a process that takes hours. Person 2 (our hero): I agree. I’m just saying personhood begins sometime in that interval. Similarly, marriage begins with a wedding.

Fertilization Takes Hours

Sperm and eggs are not organisms and not persons. After fertilization, there is a new human organism, a new person.

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Person 1: Cloning doesn’t involve fertilization, so fertilization can’t be the beginning of life. Person 2 (our hero): I think what matters is the beginning of a new organism. That’s typically fertilization, but you’re right that in rare cases it might not be.Person 1: Why are zygotes more valuable than sperm? Person 2 (our hero): Good question! A zygote is a whole organism. When you were a zygote, you had the same DNA you have now. Before that, a sperm had just half your DNA.Person 1: Nobody cares when sperm or eggs die. Why care when a zygote dies? Person 2 (our hero): It’s true that they’re all tiny living cells, but unlike sperm and eggs, a zygote is a new entire organism, a member of the human species, with its own DNA.Person 1 (our hero): When would you say life begins? Person 2: Hm… 12 weeks after fertilization. Person 1 (our hero): Okay. If you don’t mind, could you explain your reasoning? What do you think is the crucial change at that point?
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