At What Point Do We Become Human? Human Life, Family Restoration, and Some Comparative State Law

The question has perplexed philosophers, theologians and scientists for thousands of years and, more recently, the voters of Mississippi and Colorado regarding state constitutional amendments that would define life as beginning at the moment of conception. Mississippi voters rejected a recent amendment to protect human life from fertilization. [See a power point summary of those events here, thanks to Ruth Maron, Regent Law J.D. Candidate 2013, and current Family Law student.]

Missouri lawmakers, on the other hand, settled the prodigious philosophical dispute on May 14, 2010, when they declared that "[t]he life of each human being begins at conception,” and that “[a]bortion . . . terminate[s] the life of a separate, unique, living human being.” This language added new regulations to Missouri’s 24-hour informed consent law for abortions. MO. ANN. STAT. § 188.027 (West 2011).

Missouri, a state known for its strong pro-life advocacy, has taken many tactical moves both politically and legally to combat Roe v. Wade. See Planned Parenthood v. Ashcroft, 462 U.S. 476 (1983). Although Missouri’s 24-hour informed consent law does not eliminate abortions, it brings awareness to the general citizenry by prominently displaying those words on brochures that abortion providers are required to hand out to every woman seeking an abortion.

To be fair, Missouri doesn’t speak for everyone as to the great question surrounding at what point in our biological development are we infused with a soul? Even Aquinas and Augustine before him, wrestled with concepts first introduced by Aristotle in the fourth century B.C. who believed that a soul could only inhabit a fetus when that fetus began to look human, a timetable he set at 40 days for men and 90 days for women. Regardless of the differences, however, pro-lifers can and should—so long as Roe remains the law of the land—enact abortion regulations, which enlighten the body politic and shift the modern paradigm from death to life.

In the end, Missouri might serve as a model to other states, including Mississippi and Colorado, who desire to combat the adverse effects of Roe and Casey.

Thanks to John Suermann, Regent Law J.D. Candidate 2012, and current Family Law student.


  1. HI there! I heard you on Hugh Hewitt's show (Wed nite - 30 Nov) and I was moved by your efforts to train lawyers to help families stay together.

    I would like to send you a book that I wrote that has helped thousands of couples restore their marriages. And I mean "really restore." In most cases, they are in better communication with each other than they ever were and they have the knowledge as to exactly how things went off the rails.

    I could not find a "contact" link here or any address info, so if you could email me an address where I could send the book, that'd be great.

    My email is standubin@MarriageSuccess.com

    The link on my name will take you to my blog where you could download the entire book (complimentary) if you'd like to look it over in that way.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I wonder what made the difference between the result in Mississippi and the one here in Missouri. Obviously it was the legislature and not the people directly voting, but the pro-lifer groups/leaders where fiercely divided about the Mississippi amendment. Seems like that same factor would have had the same affect on legislators as it did on the people of Mississippi. The language of the bill must not have been as controversial in the eyes of pro-life groups or it may have passed quickly without opportunity for major lobbying. Sarah Lanciault