Thursday, November 30, 2006

How Old Are You. Depends.

The notion that life begins at conception has been around, as far as I can tell, at least as long as I have. So that means for 27 years now, there have been people whose understanding of the world is that the instant sperm and egg join, that child (or in my estimation, potential child) is alive. Their life has begun. And for as long as I've heard this idea it's seemed wrong to me from a political and well biological perspective.

But today, I realized it's also a little strange in a couple of other ways. For instance. Birthdays. In my mind, when I ask a child how old they are and they gleefully thrust 3 stubby little fingers in my face and declare, "I'm three years old." I figure, you know what, roughly 3 years ago that child went from being all womby and whatnot to being outside, in the world we all share. But that's wrong, if you believe that life begins at conception. Hell that kid is off by a lot. She's actually 3 years and 9 months. That's a lot of rounding error. Does that mean that Life Begins at Conception children have to learn two different sets of ages? Wouldn't birthday parties be a bit strange-- I recognize that these annual celebrations mark the date of birth and not beginning of life, but doesn't that mean you'd have 3 candles but your child would have to say they were almost four years old.

It's strange this also means that if your parents are Conservative you're a much slower learner. I mean come on it takes that child 10 months to hold up its head, geez, that's getting into developmental disability territory.

Here's another thought. Let's say that Jess and I donate the requisite sperm and egg and create an embryo. We store it in some medical freezer. We decide never to make that embryo into a person (by my understanding of when life begins). Then 45 years later that embryo is implanted in a womb, grows and makes the transition from womb to real world. Does that mean the child was born at 45 years old. I think it has to. If life begins at conception, the clock starts ticking whenever the swimmers reach the dock (as it were).

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