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Is a fetus a person?

Aelfwine

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As Justice Blackmun said in his majority opinion for "Roe v. Wade:"

"If this question of fetal personhood is established, than the plaintiff's case of course collapses, since the fetus' right to life would be specifically guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment." (from memory, may contain minor misquotes)

Is a fetus a person?

My short answer is yes. A person is defined as "an individual human being" by the OED and Webster's. A fetus is NECESSARILY an individual, as it has a unique DNA; NECESSARILY human, as it is not a monkey or a porpoise; and NECESSARILY a being, as it exists.
 

TJS0110

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Iv'e heard one argument that sais a fetus is not a person becuase it cannot survive on its own. Useing this logic you could cay its not murder to shoot someone on life support. If you walk into a hospital and shoot a patient on life support wouldn't you be arrested? Well i guess its different but why? Its easy for us to kill a faceless creature but when you see that creature it changes that seems sort of hipocritical.
 

vergiss

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Aelfwine said:
As Justice Blackmun said in his majority opinion for "Roe v. Wade:"

"If this question of fetal personhood is established, than the plaintiff's case of course collapses, since the fetus' right to life would be specifically guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment." (from memory, may contain minor misquotes)

Is a fetus a person?

My short answer is yes. A person is defined as "an individual human being" by the OED and Webster's. A fetus is NECESSARILY an individual, as it has a unique DNA; NECESSARILY human, as it is not a monkey or a porpoise; and NECESSARILY a being, as it exists.
What about twins? They have identical DNA. Does that mean they're not individual, therefore not persons?
 
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vergiss said:
What about twins? They have identical DNA. Does that mean they're not individual, therefore not persons?
On another debate board I check often, they have posed this questions. Pro Lifers won't touch it with a 10 foot pole.
 

Aelfwine

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You must not know many pro-lifers...

Identical twins have identical DNA. Twins exist as seperate beings even though they share a common genetic stucture. Obviously DNA is not the only indicator of individuality.

But though humans can SHARE a DNA and be individual, they cannot have a seperate genetic makeup and still be the same being.
 

vergiss

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So what's the definition of individuality, then? Conciousness? Foetuses are hardly conscious.
 

Dezaad

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Aelfwine said:
A fetus is NECESSARILY an individual, as it has a unique DNA; NECESSARILY human, as it is not a monkey or a porpoise; and NECESSARILY a being, as it exists
I am glad you brought this up. My 'official' position is pro-choice, and I do think this is an important question. Some radical pro-choice people do not. Radical pro-choice, held by very few, holds that even if the fetus is a human, it has no rights, because it is sort of parasitically dependent on someone else for it's survival. I think it is perverse to hold such a position.

So, for those of us who agree that personhood is an important factor in determining whether abortion ought to be allowed, you raise a very important question. It rests on first deciding what a human is, and then on deciding whether a fetus fulfils that definition. I think it's best to separate the two steps because then its much easier to approach the subject rationally. Because the subject has not progressed in this thread very far, it seems reasonable to me to set aside saying whether a fetus fulfils the definition of human until we've discussed what human means for a while.

You first proposed defining 'humanhood' thus:
All things that meet the following three requirements are human things:
  1. It has unique DNA
  2. It is not any other 'animal'
  3. It exists

But, I think you quickly made your definition more precise. You were reminded that some things that are presumably separate humans don't have unique DNA, namely identical twins. I bet the thing that meets your requirement for item 1 is simply that a human must have human DNA.

I would quickly point out that the next two items are not necessary. No other known animals have human DNA, and everyone's definition of a human would surely only include those things that exist. So, unless you object, your definition is left with "All things that have human DNA are human things". I am not sure you would want to stick with that, without further clarification. Live human blood in a petrie dish has human DNA, and it fulfils your other requirements to boot, should you choose to stick with them.

It seems like you may have been trying to clarify this issue when you stated:
... humans can SHARE a DNA and be individual, they cannot have a seperate genetic makeup and still be the same being.
But, this does not seem to add anything to your definition. It still says at most that a thing that is human must have human DNA, and nothing more.

Would you like to clarify your definition?
 

Deegan

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Sacrifice should be the choice of the human being involved, I won't play God with any life, nor should our government!
 

vergiss

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Deegan said:
Sacrifice should be the choice of the human being involved, I won't play God with any life, nor should our government!
"And God said to Abraham..."

Wait a second. Wouldn't you say that, technically, any medical treatment is playing God?
 

Dezaad

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Deegan said:
Sacrifice should be the choice of the human being involved, I won't play God with any life, nor should our government!
Wouldn't 'playing god' with a life require that that life be a person? Do you have any reason to define the fetus as a person? Do you have a definition of what you think a person is?
 

Red_Dave

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Aelfwine said:
As Justice Blackmun said in his majority opinion for "Roe v. Wade:"

"If this question of fetal personhood is established, than the plaintiff's case of course collapses, since the fetus' right to life would be specifically guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment." (from memory, may contain minor misquotes)

Is a fetus a person?

My short answer is yes. A person is defined as "an individual human being" by the OED and Webster's. A fetus is NECESSARILY an individual, as it has a unique DNA; NECESSARILY human, as it is not a monkey or a porpoise; and NECESSARILY a being, as it exists.
In my view the only difference between a fuetus and a baby is that a fetus is still inside the womb and therefore , acording to pro-choice folks is not a human being. However if the fuetus has reched a stage where it has a fairly devolped brain and body i dont see how the fact it he/she is still dependant on his/her other makes him/her less human.

Whats really unfair in my view is that at 22 weeks a baby can sometimes survive outside the womb ,but in the uk it is still legal to have an abortion at 22 weeks if the baby is disabled. If someone was to kill 22 week old babys outside the womb there would be an outcry yet if someone rips a 22 week old babys head of with a tube within the womb then its perfectly acceptable. Funny old world..........
 

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Red_Dave said:
In my view the only difference between a fuetus and a baby is that a fetus is still inside the womb
You say, without any supporting argument at all, that there is no difference between a fetus and a baby. Presumably, like the vast majority, you consider a baby a person. Fewer people consider a fetus a person. I would like to examine how you determine what a person is. What is your definition of a person?
 

vergiss

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Red_Dave - erm, it's 25 weeks gestation before the baby has even the slightest chance of survival outside the womb. Even then, the odds are definitely against them.

Personally, I'm against abortions beyond the first trimester except in cases of disability or serious threat to the mother. However, this part of the argument is a tad stupid. It's just throwing one person's definition of "person-ness" agains another's, and we're never going to get anywhere.
 

Dezaad

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vergiss said:
this part of the argument is a tad stupid. It's just throwing one person's definition of "person-ness" agains another's, and we're never going to get anywhere.
What do you think would persuade people? What do you think is the core reason people are for or against abortion? What do you think would 'force' a person to change their mind if they thought differently about it? How would you approach discussing those things?
 

uberness

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Definition of person- 1. A living human
2. The composite of characteristics that make up an individual personality.

Is a fetus living? Yes, since 18 days the heart is beating and all systems are working, even befor that it shows signs of life.

Is it a human? Yes. That's self explanatory.

Does it have characteristics? Yes. A babies genetic makeup is determined at the moment of conception.
---------------------------
Definition of a person by law.- 1. A human or organization with legal rights and duties

The 14th admendment states that a person gets rights when it is born. Yet then later states that it is th state's duty to protect a person's life. And since this baby isin't born the law doesint recognize it as a person so it is not protected by the 14th admendment.

Therefor 1.5 million babies a year our being murdered because the government wont listen to science and recognize a fetus as a person, even though it clearly is.
 

Plain old me

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uberness said:
Definition of person- 1. A living human
2. The composite of characteristics that make up an individual personality.
But I would not say a fetus is an individual personality, it is utterly dependant on its mother, as it cannot live without her I do believe it is independant, nor do I believe it is a life, up until the point where it is viable.
 

uberness

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Plain old me said:
nor do I believe it is a life, up until the point where it is viable.
A baby is dependent on her mother to live until she's atleast a todder. A baby could not live or grow if she didint have soemone feeding her or helping her. And even if you mean viable as "capable of living outside the uterus" A baby is not, she is still dependent on her mother.
 

Plain old me

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uberness said:
A baby is dependent on her mother to live until she's atleast a todder. A baby could not live or grow if she didint have soemone feeding her or helping her. And even if you mean viable as "capable of living outside the uterus" A baby is not, she is still dependent on her mother.
A baby is not 100% dependant upon another living thing 100% of the time. True, a baby needs care, but it can get along quite happily for some time without its mother, and the mother does not do everything, the baby provides itself with oxygen. Do nothing to a baby for 5 minutes, it will quite probably still be there at the end. A fetus on the other hand relies on the mother for everything at all times. Do nothing to a fetus, just leave it, not connected to its mother and it will cease 'working'. Because a fetus cannot possibly at anytime for any length of time exist without its mother I do not believe it to be an independant life.
 

Dezaad

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uberness said:
Definition of person- 1. A living human
2. The composite of characteristics that make up an individual personality.
This is the dictionary.com definition of "person". I really does nothing to help the debate about personhood. A living human is too vague, and the second definition leaves the reader to decide what "The composite of characteristics" is.

But, perhaps, that is a good place to start. What is "The composite of characteristics" that one should use to decide which things are persons and which things are not? What set of traits is it that set humans apart from other things?

I think we can all agree, all persons have human genetic code. But, not all things with human genetic code are persons, as we've seen through the fact that single live human cells are not persons.

So, what subset of things with human genes are persons?
 

vergiss

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Dezaad said:
What do you think would persuade people? What do you think is the core reason people are for or against abortion? What do you think would 'force' a person to change their mind if they thought differently about it? How would you approach discussing those things?
When I debate politics, I rarely expect to change anyone's mind. I've read somewhere that it'd take approximately 60 hours of solid arguing to change a person's mind, once they've decided on the issue for themselves. All I seek to do is slightly ease radical opinion - so that, even if they think abortion is wrong, they might understand why a person would get one.
 

Dezaad

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vergiss said:
When I debate politics, I rarely expect to change anyone's mind. I've read somewhere that it'd take approximately 60 hours of solid arguing to change a person's mind, once they've decided on the issue for themselves. All I seek to do is slightly ease radical opinion - so that, even if they think abortion is wrong, they might understand why a person would get one.
Well, you still could have answered the questions, since they are as relevant to 'easing radical opinion' as they are to actually changing a person's mind. Or, since the argument in this thread is "Is a fetus a Person?", one could simply tolerate the discussion, or not engage in it by reading it at all, if one felt the question was not worth asking.
 
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