Reproductive System & Sexual Disorders: Current Research

Reproductive System & Sexual Disorders: Current Research
Open Access

ISSN: 2161-038X

+44 1300 500008


Perceptions Regarding the Value of Life Before and After Birth

Julian C. Jamison

Objective: This paper aims to explain the practical importance of placing a numeric value on the relative values of lives (or deaths) at different ages, including just before and after birth, and to implement one feasible method for estimating concrete inputs into such values.

Methods: The study population consisted of an online convenience sample of 1628 unique individuals. They were each asked to fill out a short survey consisting of six demographic questions and one question requesting an explicit comparison of numbers of lives saved across groups of humans at different ages. Subjects were randomized into one of ten treatment conditions, where each condition involved a different comparison. The age groups which were asked about consisted of fetuses at 10 and 39 weeks gestation; pregnant women at 10 and 39 weeks gestation; infants in the first week of life; 1-year-old children; and adult women.

Results: On average respondents valued younger fetuses less than more developed ones; fetuses less than children; children less than adult women; and women less than pregnant women. However, there was no discernible difference in valuation between 39-week fetuses and early neonatal infants. Female subjects valued all fetuses and children (relative to adult women) more highly than did male subjects.

Conclusion: Meaningful data can be collected about sensitive topics using online experiments. In this case we find support for a continuously growing valuation of life with developmental age, starting early in gestation and without any sudden jump at birth.