It’s a question that has perplexed philosophers, theologians and scientists for thousands of years.
Pythagorean Greeks, early Christian church fathers, Talmudic rabbis, Sunni and Shia scholars, Hindu Brahmin and modern bioethicists have grappled with the fundamental, ultimately unknowable, mystery: At what point in our biological development are we infused with a soul?
At what point do we become human?
Missouri lawmakers have declared their answer. By withholding both his signature and his veto, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon signaled that he agreed and recently allowed the legislative answer to become state law.
“The life of each human being begins at conception,” according to Senate Bill 793, which adds new regulations to the state’s 24-hour informed consent law for abortions. “Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.”
The bill makes Missouri the second state to adopt such language after a similar provision became law in South Dakota in 2005, and then survived a legal challenge in federal court in 2008.