Twenty-three academics and scientists have signed a position paper confirming that in their view life starts at the moment of fertilisation.

Against the controversial backdrop of discussions on amendments to the IVF legislation, 23 geneticists, molecular biologists and cell biologists that that at fertilisation, "a new human life, genetically distinct from the sperm and the ovum, and thus from the mother and father, is initiated".

"All of us humans presently alive, started life as this early embryo. Scientifically the development from zygote to embryo, to foetus, baby, child and adult is a continuum and it is the same human from the time of fertilisation till the day s/he dies.

"These are just different linguistical terms used to refer to different stages of life," they wrote.

The controversy over the freezing of embryos has even prompted the President to call for more time for reflection, along with an offer for her to mediate.

Those who signed the position said that while a good number of such embryos may die, naturally or through manipulation, in nature or through Assisted Reproductive Technologies, this did not make them any less human.

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