What is an Embryo?

[Check out this month’s Science Highlights “Fertilized Eggs Versus Embryos, An Ongoing Failure of Terminology.]

In light of the recent news from Alabama, we are reposting “What Is An Embryo?”.

This is the first comprehensive look at the influence of accurate science terminology, published by the Connecticut Law Review along with rejoinders by Dr. Harold Shapiro, Prof John A. Robertson, Prof Lars Noah, and Father Kevin P. Quinn.

The law review addresses the controversy of all of the entities that are currently called “embryos” with regards to embryonic stem cell research legislation around the world.

Download the PDF: What Is an Embryo? 

“Ann Kiessling’s thoughtful and extremely useful review covers a good deal of history, language, and public policy intimately related to the controversial technologies that surround the use of embryos either in biomedical research or ART.”
– Harold T. Shapiro, Emeritus, Princeton University


“No one would deny that the subtleties of human embryology are neglected in public debate. This alone should compel scientists to choose terms that make scientific sense and to provide clear definitions. Dr. Kiessling has accepted well that challenge. But I also think that Kiessling is up to something else in her essay. She is attempting to reposition science, to gain for it a more influential voice in the heated politics of embryonic discourse.”
– Kevin P. Quinn, S. J. Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center


“Most scientific and medical discoveries are accompanied by new terms to describe the new processes. Although this imposes the burden on society of continually learning a new lexicon, new terminology clarifies that the societal impact of emerging technologies needs to be newly interpreted.”
– Excerpt, page 1, Ann A. Kiessling, PhD

“As stated in the Commentary, the goal was not to try to re-define existing moral and ethical views of tasks undertaken by eggs, especially ‘when life begins’ but to try to make room in those views for the emerging biomedical technologies that are currently dependent upon the innate capabilities of human eggs.”
– Excerpt, page 2, “Rejoinder,” Ann A. Kiessling, PhD


Connecticut Law Review: What Is an Embryo?

Read the rejoinder: What is an Embryo?: A Rejoinder

Download brochure (pdf)

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