Challenge: A Fetus Without an Active Brain Is Not Alive

Posted: May 22, 2012 by Amy Hall in Do the Right Thing, Weekly Challenge

A few weeks ago, Alan tackled the first part of an argument given on to persuade people that a fetus without a brain is not a person, and therefore it’s okay to abort it.

As promised, for this week’s challenge, here’s the second part of the argument:

Second, medical death occurs when electrical activity in the brain ceases. A corollary of this would indicate that medical life occurs when electrical activity in the brain STARTS. Thus, an entity without electrical activity in the brain is not alive.

I have heard this argument made several times. What do you think? Let’s hear from you, and then Alan will be here to finish this up on Thursday.

  1. The first question I would ask this critic is, “Do you know why medical death occurs when electrical activity in the brain ceases?” Most abortion advocates have not considered this question, but the answer to it makes all the difference.

    From a scientific standpoint, it is clear that to say that brain death has occurred is to say that death has occurred. A brain dead individual has suffered an irreversible loss of all comatose function such that none of his bodily systems are capable of working together in a coordinated manner. Individual bodily cells may remain alive for some time after, but they no longer work together as a coordinated unit.

    A fetus is nothing like a brain dead individual because it does not yet require a fully functioning brain to survive. At earlier points in its development, something else coordinates its bodily systems such that its cells function together as a coordinated whole. It is whole, living, and functioning exactly the way it should at this point in its development.

    However, it is also important to note that a fetus has detectable brainwaves by six weeks gestation. Since the vast majority of abortions take place between 8 and 12 weeks, this challenge is nullified all together.

  2. The fetus has a soul and that makes it alive and important to God!

  3. Jonathan says:

    // “Thus, an entity without electrical activity in the brain is not alive.”//

    I would first ask him what he means by “alive”. Plants don’t have any electrical brain activity but most if not all biologists would consider a plant that is capable of vital functions to be alive. So taking his statement at face value it seems that according to him that plants that are functioning properly would not be considered alive. So some clarity here would be helpful. But what he can’t do is “make up” his own definition as to what constitutes something as living material or not.

    So where is the problem? Then why have an abortion? Why would someone desire an abortion if it wasn’t alive? It seems obvious here that it is alive. It is growing…that’s the problem!

    Here is what is commonly held in the scientific community as to if something is considered living material or non-living material. I learned this in Junior High.

    1. Composed of cells; if no cell, no life. (for this reason, viruses are not considered to be alive.)
    2. Organization; both on a molecular and cellular level.
    3. Metabolism; all living organisms must use energy of some sort.
    4. Response to Stimuli; simple or complex actions in response to environment. Adaptation would fit under this topic as well.
    5. Reproduction; living things must be able to reproduce, not for the individual, but for the continuation of life.
    6. Growth; not all organisms must grow or develop, through cell enlargement or replication, but it is common in most living things.

    The unborn bear all these characteristics.

    In light of all this information what good and sufficient reason do we have to think that the unborn are not alive?