Playing God: when does life begin?

Sunday 3 November, 16:0017:15, Cinema 3Podcasts live


When and how does life begin? This question has tormented philosophers and scientists alike for centuries. The discussion about life – and when, or if, it is ever ethically justifiable to end it – is central to the abortion debate. Some dismiss the start of human life as simply a bunch of cells that can be discarded at will, others argue that it constitutes our essential DNA, and so should be respected as a unique, unborn, but developing person.

But while arguments for women’s bodily autonomy are well known by pro-choice campaigners, there is little discussion about conception and the start of life. Does life in the uterus increase in importance as the fetus develops? If an IVF doctor puts life in the uterus, can an abortion provider take it out? Should a secular society impose restrictions and rules on what we can and cannot do for the sake of community values and majority beliefs? Or are we playing God?

Catholics for Choice, a pro-choice organisation advocating for sexual and reproductive rights from a standpoint of culture, faith, justice and morality, will premiere excerpts from a new film asking questions about life and its meaning. This session will feature two provocative lectures from Dr Stuart Derbyshire, associate professor in psychology at the National University of Singapore, and Sandy Starr, deputy director of the Progress Educational Trust. Jon O’Brien, director of Catholics for Choice, will then chair a live episode of the podcast of ideas about the questions raised in the film.