So in the first section of this rambling set of thoughts, I covered how some people feel that rights begin at conception, and that these people in general will draw a distinction between a fertilized egg and an induced pluripotent cell in terms of what is a person. (The fertilized egg being considered as person with the protections that implies. While the Induced Pluripotent Cell does not.) It seems that being a person in potential is the key factor.
In the second section of the missive I discussed the new field in biology, epigenetics which deals with the factors that govern when and how genes function and that these factor can be influenced by environment and these environmental influences have surprisingly been show to be inheritable.
Now it’s time to combine these two idea and see where they lead us.
With epigenetics we can now see that action we take today can have an adverse effect on generations down time from us. This is not a generalized or metaphorical statement, but a direct corollary of cause and effect. For example let’s hypothesize that smoking can have an inheritable epigenetic effect that makes your grand children much more susceptible to autism. This is pure speculation at this point but not an unreasonable one. So what rights of the unborn and unconceived grandchildren have? Does my choosing to smoke violate their rights? IF I know that my smoking can cause autism two generations downstream, should I be held criminally liable for smoking and the damages it creates?
Of course I could never have children, but this is an exception to human behavior not the rule. Most people want to have children and want families. So do those future generation have rights?
I am not answering that question. My intention was merely to pose it. Everyone has to find their own answers, but what we do know that is life, biology, and the realities of inheritance are far more complex than we generally give them credit for.