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In Defense of the Defenseless — the Human Embryo

The moral status of the human embryo now stands as a central question of our times.  In fact, it has only been in recent times that we have even known much about the human embryo.  Now, with the issues of human embryonic stem cell research, cloning, reproductive technologies, and designer babies before us, the human embryo is now a central character in some of our most heated moral and political debates.

Now, Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen defend the human dignity of the human embryo with vigor and credible argument in Embryo: A Defense of Human Life (Doubleday).  George and Tollefsen offer a sustained argument against the use and destruction of human embryos in medical experimentation.

Robert P. George is Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics. Christopher Tollefsen is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina.  They understand what is at stake in this controversy — the dignity of every single human being.

They make their case that “human embryos are, from the very beginning, human beings, sharing an identity with, though younger than, the older human beings they will grow up to become.”

Embryo is now the essential book on this great moral question.

From the book:

The evidence suggests, then, that at the end of the first week, the same organism that came into being at fertilization has continued to grow and pursue its important biological goals.  It does this by means of an increasingly differentiated division of labor among the cells, but a division whose original plan dates back to the very act of fertilization.  And it pursues its goals, and adjusts for difficulties, by means of communication from cell to cell.  It is, it would seem, a single organism, just like a toddler, adolescent, or adult.