We don't seem to have any way to know which of these two situations is true. In one case, a fetus may not be more than a standard living object, without any personality, consciousness or even a Soul, until the moment of birth. In the other case, each fetus might have a significantly developed personality and even a consciousness, virtually at the moment of conception. Many Americans extend this into being a religious issue, and they have even killed some adults who have tried to aid women to get abortions, which seems to me a peculiar attitude, of actively intentionally killing some adults in apparent deference to unborn fetuses.
Is there any logical or scientific proof either way? There might be a peculiar incident of 90 years ago which might provide some insight. In 1926, some unusual things happened, which seem to provide some very strong scientific evidence regarding this issue.
This seems to be the core question that separates the believers in abortion rights (Pro-Choice) and those that believe in the right-to-life (Pro-Life). If it is true that even though Medical life certainly exists in all healthy fetuses, maybe actual meaningful life (a personality, conscience) only begins at the moment of physical birth, then the prior period as a fetus may only be a temporary and intermediate step. However, if it is true that actual meaningful life begins at the moment of Conception, then that intermediate step as a fetus seems far more important. The attitudes on both sides of this debate seem extremely rigid, but neither side has ever had any actual scientific basis for their position.
Modern conventional science and medicine is frustrated at this question, as there has never seemed to be any credible evidence either way. Modern Medicine and Science do not have any way of detecting or analyzing a "Soul" or a "personality" or a "conscience", so there seems to be a total lack of available evidence regarding exactly when such characteristics develop in any person.
There actually seems likely to be some very solid scientific evidence regarding this issue, but in an odd direction, which might resolve the issue and reduce or eliminate the huge controversy and antagonism in America. I have discovered remarkable evidence which seems to establish a solid scientific basis for an answer to this question.
You may need to research the remarkable effort that the Government of India and Mahatma Gandhi went to, to even visit her to try to make sense of one little girl, during the early 1930s. Only then, might you realize why I see this story to be so extremely important today.
On December 11, 1926, a remarkable girl was born in Delhi, India. She was given the name of Shanti Devi. Her life was so remarkable that Mahatma Gandhi himself went to meet with the little girl when she was about 9 years old, and he established a Scientific Commission of India, of 15 highly respected scientists to study her! A thorough India Government Scientific Report was published by that Commission a year later in 1936. That Report still exists! Additional analysis and more scientific publications by the Government of India followed. Countless non-scientific books have also been written about that story, partly because that little girl defied all of the most strict science and logic in seeming to be a person who had lived before (what is commonly called Reincarnation).
The reason why Shanti Devi was so noted was that her life was amazingly well documented.
She seemed extremely bewildered until she became about four years old, and then she soon started telling her mother an assortment of outrageous things, such as that she had already been married, to a man named Kedar Nath (or Kedarnath Chaube), that her earlier name was Lugdi, and that she had lived in a small town of Mathura (about 150 km away from Delhi). She said that as a mother she had had three children, and she told her mother the names of the two oldest of her children. (She eventually met the oldest two, and oddly, her oldest child was now taller and bigger than she was!) She did not know the name of her third child, but the earlier woman Lugdi had died ten days later, associated with that childbirth. She described her earlier husband, his cousins, his business, and countless more details about the people and the town. Amazingly, the little girl even knew the Marital Indiscretions that various relatives had done! When she was nine, (unknown to her) the man who had been Lugdi's husband in Mathura came to the door of their house in Delhi, and she immediately recognized him and she ran to him and hugged him. She even told her mother that 'my husband has come back to me!'
Later, the Commission scientists of Gandhi and others took the little girl to the small town of Mathura, and when she stepped off the train, she correctly pointed out various people and landmarks. The scientists blindfolded her and she directed the carriage they were in to travel the streets to get to the exact house where she said she had lived as Lugdi in the village of Mathura ten years earlier. She even talked to various local people in an unusual Dialect which was used in Mathura but which was totally unknown in Delhi where she grew up. All she had ever been taught as a child was Hindustani. When Lugdi Devi's previous husband had visited her in Delhi (when she was around nine years old), Shanti had a private conversation with the man who she said had previously been her husband, and she apparently mentioned some very private memories to him, as he became immediately convinced that the little girl really WAS his previous wife!
Modern medicine has advanced where Doctors can now monitor the physical health of every fetus in America. Occasional medical operations are done to repair such complications.
But we believe that there is something additional which is part of every human existence, which is sometimes referred to as a Soul or a personality or conscience. Neither modern science nor modern medicine has any idea how to detect such a non-physical entity. If you believe you have a Soul, when did you get it? You certainly believe that you have a personality, so when did you get it? Christians believe they receive a religious Soul when they become Saved as a Christian. But the entity we are talking about here is not religious in nature. It may be the source of your dreams, and maybe even of your personality. It may some day be possible for Technology to detect and analyze a person's personality or conscience or Soul or dreams, but that seems likely to be many generations in the future.
Shanti Devi might be a unique opportunity to learn about such a non-corporeal entity as personality or conscience or Soul, which modern science and medicine cannot yet understand. At some point in her early life, she seemed to have received an amazingly detailed personal history of an earlier woman, Lugdi Devi. Whether she actually WAS that same person, Reincarnated, I have serious personal doubts. But, somehow, the little girl certainly KNEW countless amazing things that she could not obviously have known! That even included knowing how to converse in an obscure dialect of a language that she was never taught and could not have learned. Our modern Technology cannot yet understand just what happened, or why, or how, but the facts seem unavoidable that it did happen. I believe there is ONE SPECIFIC DETAIL about this situation regarding Shanti Devi which might be instructive for us today. Just when Lugdi Devi died may turn out to be extremely important. We acknowledge that Lugdi Devi certainly must have died BEFORE Shanti Devi was born. But she may have died just minutes before Shanti was born, or maybe she died nine months earlier.
The government of India must have Recorded a Death Certificate for Lugdi Devi.
This discusssion includes an important scientific consideration. Two very basic Laws of science are the Conservation of Energy and the Conservation of Mass (that is, weight or material). We do not know what the life experience of Lugdi was after she had died, but as scientists, we think that entity must have been some sort of energy or some sort of material. If that is true, then the timing of the two events must have been strictly related. Specifically, that entity could not have existed as two simultaneous exact duplicates at any time, and it could not have disappeared from existence for any period of time.
That seems to only permit two logical possibilities regarding that death event and that paperwork.
(1) If Lugdi had died on December 11, 1926, possibly just minutes or seconds before Shanti Devi was born (150 km away). IF this is the case, that implies that the UNBORN fetus within Shanti Devi's mother was certainly Medically alive but might NOT have had any real 'Life Force' existence (or Soul or 'personality') as being truly fully alive, until that moment of birth, possibly meaning that LIFE MUST ACTUALLY BEGIN AT THE VERY MOMENT OF BIRTH. The apparent transfer of whatever entire personality or Life Force that had been in Lugdi may then have appeared essentially instantaneously in Shanti Devi.
(2) Alternately, if Lugdi might have died around March of 1926, nine months earlier, and the UNBORN fetus within Shanti Devi's mother may have immediately had a true Life Force (or, essentially, a personality) within it, possibly seconds or minutes after the moment of Lugdi's physical death 150 km away. THIS might imply that LIFE MUST ACTUALLY BEGIN AT THE VERY MOMENT OF CONCEPTION. The apparent transfer of whatever entire Life Force had been in Lugdi might then have occurred either instantaneously or over a period of time.
It scientifically logically seems that ONLY these two possibilities could have occurred.
Regarding Indian Official records of that Death, we note that there must also be a Birth Certificate (of the third child) which would have been ten days prior to that Death Certificate, as Lugdi died due to complications of that birth.
The one timing seems to totally support a common modern view of abortion advocates.
The other timing seems to totally support a common modern view of anti-abortion activists.
I am not aware of ANY other actual scientific evidence, either way, regarding this modern controversy.
It does not seem that much is known about Lugdi Devi. IF it is true that Shanti Devi was somehow essentially "given a personality" from Lugdi, it might be interesting to see if the two had (1) the same favorite color; (2) the same favorite food; (3) the same favorite game to play; (4) the same preferences in clothing; (5) the same preferences regarding musical instruments or music; (6) height, personal appearance, eye color; (7) etc.
If any 'artifacts' still exist from the family in Mathura, maybe there is some existant DNA from Lugdi, which then might be compared to DNA from Shanti Devi.I have not found very much reliable information about Indian societies in the early 1900s. The following certainly includes several serious historical errors (such as how many children Lugdi Devi had had) and I cannot find any actual documentation of who collected or published it. But it IS interesting in the many tiny details it mentions.
(My observations here: This story seems to imply that Lugdi never had any surviving children. However, during the 1930s, meetings were certainly arranged where Shanti definitely MET both her earlier husband Kedar Nath and two of her children. The DATE of the final birth and of Lugdi's resulting death seem to be in great disagreement with other sources, referring to a date in early 1925. My suspicion is that this source had confused Lugdi's SECOND son, who may have been born early in 1925, with the unsuccessful birth of a THIRD son, some time in 1926.)
One year ten months and seven days after Lugdi's death, on December 11, 1926, a beautiful daughter was born to Babu Rang Bahadur Mathur of Chirawala Mohulla, a small locality of Delhi. The girl was named Shanti Devi. Shanti was unusually quiet and hardly spoke until she was four years old. When she started talking, she surprised her family by telling them, "This is not my real home! I have a husband and a son in Mathura! I must return to them!"
Shanti said that her husband was in Mathura where he owned a cloth shop and they had a son. She called herself Chaubine (Chaube's wife). The parents considered it a child's fantasy and took no notice. They got worried, however, when she talked repeatedly about it and, over time, narrated a number of incidents connected with her life in Mathura with her husband.
On occasions at meals, Shanti would say, "In my house in Mathura, I ate different kinds of sweets." Sometimes when her mother was dressing her she would tell what type of dresses she used to wear. Curiously, she mentioned three distinctive features about her husband: he was fair, had a big wart on his left cheek, and wore reading glasses. She also mentioned that her husband's shop was located in front of Dwarkadhish temple.
This strange talk continued. By this time Shanti was six-year-old, and her parents were perplexed and worried. Shanti even gave a detailed account of her death following childbirth. They consulted their family physician who was amazed how this little girl correctly described so many details of the complicated surgical procedures she claimed to have endured.
As Shanti grew older, she insisted that her parents take her to Mathura. All this time, however, she never mentioned her husband's name. It is customary in India that wives do not speak the name of their husbands. Even when specifically asked, Shanti would only blush and say, "I will recognize him, if I am taken there."
Her parents thought their daughter was mentally ill and tried everything to discourage her strange talk. But Shanti continued to talk about her "other family" and gave a specific address and more details about her previous home, her husband and his family.
Eventually, a teacher in Ramjas High School Daryaganj in Delhi, told Shanti that if she told him her husband's name, he would take her to Mathura. Convinced, she whispered his name into his ear -- "Kedarnath Chaube." The teacher told her that he would arrange for the trip to Mathura after he had made some inquiries. He wrote a letter to Kedarnath Chaube, detailing all that Shanti had said, and invited him to visit Delhi.
Amazingly, the teacher received a quick reply from Kedarnath, admitting that his young wife, Lugdi, had recently passed away. Even more amazing was that all the details Shanti had described about her old house and members of her previous family were all true!
Shanti's story spread all over India through the media. Many intellectuals became interested in it. When the famous teacher and pacifist, Mahatma Gandhi, heard about it, he personally talked to Shanti and then requested her to stay in his ashram. Gandhi instigated a committee to investigate and report on the claims the little girl was making. Soon a committee of 15 prominent people, including polticians, national leaders and members from the media was formed and they persuaded Shanti's parents to allow her to accompany them Mathura.
Upon arriving at Mathura by train, Shanti -- on her own -- quickly lead them straight to her previous home. She correctly described what it had looked like years earlier -- before its recent refurbishing.
As a test, to mislead Shanti Devi, Kanjimal introduced Kedarnath as his elder brother. Shanti blushed and stood on one side. Someone asked why she was blushing in front of her husband's elder brother. Shanty said, "No, he is not my husband's brother. He is my husband himself." Then she addressed her mother, "Didn't I tell you that he is fair and he has a wart on the left side cheek near his ear?"
She then asked her mother to prepare meals for the guests. When the mother asked what should she prepare, she said that he was fond of stuffed potato paranthas and pumpkin-curry. Kedarnath was speechless, as these were his favorite meals. He asked whether she could tell them anything "unusual" to help him accept that this was really his former wife. Shanti replied, "Yes, there is a well in the courtyard of our house, where I used to take my bath."
She was also able to relate extremely intimate information, such as extramarital affairs of family members that no one, outside the family, could possibly have known. But that wasn't enough to convinced Kedarnath. He needed something really private, that only his dead wife would know.
Apparently, Lugdi had suffered from painful arthritis, making it difficult for her to move. This presented problems when the couple tried to have sex. But Lugdi had found a way to move that enabled her to have relations with her husband. This was an extremely private matter, yet Shanti was able to describe this in intimate detail. That convinced him!
Dr. Ian Stevenson, leading authority on reincarnation, said:
"I also interviewed Shanti Devi, her father, and other pertinent witnesses, including Kedarnath, the husband claimed in her previous life. My research indicates that she made at least 24 statements of her memories that matched the verified facts."
C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from University of Chicago