"What Values for This Time?"
"What Values for This Time?" was the name of a conference held in Portugal, Lisbon, and in which the french biophysicist Henri Atlan was a speaker.
Here are some of his ideas about the advances of science and genetic engineering technologies.
According to him it is very difficult to draw a line between what is a human foetus or simple cells.
There are some people who try to find out different stages of a foetus development and then decide when those cells are considered to be human or not. There is also the most traditional line drawn in ancient time, from Aristotles and that had been adopted by the greatest religious traditions such as Christianism until Saint Thomas, the Islam and others that say we can't think of a human being unless it is possible to distinguish a human shape, including a human face with the eyes. They suggest this might happen around the forty days. So, to the scientist Henri Atlan, each theory has got its own coherence.
The real question is: When is it that a cell becomes a human foetus?
This is a recent issue because in the past it would be impossible to have a baby outside the mother's womb. Today, we can produce babies without fecundation and whose initial development takes place outside the body of a woman...this is cloning. So we are artificially procriating.
They are only cells, developing without fecundation, that can become a foetus if they are placed in a woman's womb and if they develop there, normally.
The issue is similar when we think of egg women donors, and surrogate mothers. There are as well serious ethical, legal and moral values involved.
The problem is that this process will afect relationships.
Henri Atlan says that this scientific evolution indicates a dissociation between having children and sexuality. According to him, in the future, we'll have the possibility to chose between our womb to have our children or an artificial one.