The beginning of life

Spermium bei der Befruchtung

"Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoon development) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual. […] A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo)."

Ronan R. O'Rahilly and Fabiola Müller, Human Embryology & Teratology, 3rd Edition, New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001
Illustration Evolution von Befruchtung zur Geburt

constant change

Throughout our lives, we are constantly changing - growing, learning new skills. We learn to walk and talk and become more and more independent. But our biggest developmental steps occur when we are still hidden from the world in the womb.

The living being, which has been proven to begin to exist at fertilization, grows and develops from the moment of fertilization until adulthood. The heart starts beating 22 days after fertilization. So at a time when most do not even know they are pregnant. And because unborn children are not visible during this crucial time, they are especially vulnerable

Most people do not know what happens to an unborn child during an abortion. You will find detailed information about prenatal development and the most common abortion procedures used in all three trimesters of pregnancy on our website.

From what point on do people have rights?

Some people argue that while the unborn are human beings, they are not persons and therefore have no rights.

There is an almost universal consensus that it is wrong to kill innocent people. Is it relevant how old the victim is? Or is it enough that a human being is involved? Determining when a person's life begins also determines when that person's human rights begin.

Mädchen speilt mit Puppe
Illustration Leben ist kein Verbrauchsartikel

Dehumanization is not the solution

Dehumanization is one of the main techniques used in incitement to genocide, to justify wars, judicial and extrajudicial killings, and slavery. It is also used to confiscate property, deny voting and other rights, and attack enemies or political opponents. When people become things, they become expendable, and any cruelty can be justified.

Human rights are not tied to "persons" but to people. We know that the existence of every human being begins with the completion of the fertilization of a human egg by a human sperm. That is why human beings have human rights even before birth.

What happens when rights seem to collide?

But what happens when the rights of the unborn seem to conflict with those of the born, who have the same rights? For example, the unborn has a human right to life, but a woman also has a human right to personal freedom. However, does the exercise of her rights permit abortion?

geteilte Persönlichkeit

"The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins"

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841 – 1937)

This quote clearly shows where freedom reaches its limits: namely, where someone else is harmed by it. Abortion is just that: harming an autonomous human being. But the rights of freedom were never designed to allow that.

Moreover, of these two rights - the right to life and the right to liberty - one is more fundamental: the right to life. This means that it takes precedence when the two are in conflict. Without the right to life, we would have no way to exercise the right to liberty. Some argue that the right to life does not mean that others have a duty to always protect it.

Because children are dependent, weak, and vulnerable, they need adults to meet their basic needs. Civil societies usually give special protection to the youngest among us for this reason. In fact, the United Nations says in its Declaration on the Rights of the Child: 

"Whereas the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth1"

Declaration of the Rights of the Child 1959

However, parents have certain obligations towards their children. Even fathers who were unaware of their child's existence during pregnancy are expected to pay child support for eighteen years, thereby promoting the child's development.