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ss triple helix - Christmas 2009,  Embryo - a defense of human life</h2>

Embryo - a defense of human life

    Robert P George and Christopher Tollefsen
  • Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group, USA 2008
  • $23.95 (USA)
  • Hb 242pp
  • ISBN 978 0 38552 282 3

The book opens with the attempt to rescue some IVF embryos from being destroyed in the flood caused by Hurricane Katrina. One embryo rescued that day was successfully implanted and 'Noah' was born in January 2007, named because he survived the flood! The book begins with the intuition that it was Noah who was rescued that day. That embryo was him, in the first fragile days of his existence.

The rest of the book is a philosophical defence of the claim that a human embryo is the first stage of life of a human person. George and Tollefsen consider in detail many arguments and counter arguments, and provide a useful resource to sustain the 'life begins at conception' view.

My concern is that this book is too abstractly rational. It even abstracts out the mother and her relationship with her child! It creates the absurd impression of an embryo as an independent creature, when the human embryo is us at our most dependent. Avoiding religion, for good political reasons, the book somehow misses the human and emotional. I do not think this book will move those who do not already recognise the humanity of the embryo.

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