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Feyisayo Anjorin

Freelance Director, Afro-Carribean Media Group


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Is a Fetus a Person?

The debate over whether abortion should be considered as murder often focuses on the question of whether the fetus is a person or not.
Here the issue of culture and religion comes in.
But what does it take to identify a fetus as a person? There are thinkers today with the belief that a fetus can be called a human being, but should not be called a person because it takes more to be a person than just having genetic material.

Philosopher Mary Ann Warren argues that in order to be considered a person, a being should have the following characteristics:

1. A developed capacity for reasoning.
2. Self awareness
3.Consciousness and ability to feel pain
4. Self motivated activity
5. Capacity to comminicate messages of an indefinite variety of types.

It would seem as if even new born babies may not be considered as persons according to the aforementioned school of thought.

No doubt infanticide has always got widespread condemnation, but abortion has always been a controversial issue.
So, what do you think? Is a fetus a person?


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    Oct 8 2012: By that defination many of our Presidents were not even people.

    How I define a fetus is of little import. These definations are normally accepted within a culture and laws are writtten to reflect that.

    As I understand it the orientals believe that birth begins at conception and the baby is one year old at birth. Using that belief then any form of contraception could be against the law.

    I am aware that Catholic followers due not believe in any contraceptive means at all which would lead me to think that they also sponsor the idea of life at conception.

    The US practices birth control, morning after pills, and contraceptives and have medically and legally defined at what point that the fetus is considered a person.

    The one thing that we have so far agreed on is that when the fetus is in distress and a continued pregency to full term would provide a suffering and totally dependent baby that the women and spouse can together make a decision to abort. I support that decision.
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      Oct 8 2012: (Quote): "I am aware that Catholic followers due not believe in any contraceptive means at all which would lead me to think that they also sponsor the idea of life at conception."

      Invalid conclusion. The use of contraceptives to PREVENT a conception would simply prevent the problem of having to decide what is right or wrong AFTER the conception occured.

      The Catholic stance against contraceptive use seems to be an attempt to control an individual's sexual activities. Traditionally, the church's stance has been that sexual copulation should only be allowed under the contract of marriage, in which case the only reason to engage in sexual intercourse SHOULD be for the creation of a "new life". Any other sexual copulation would be considerd "immoral", and contraceptive use should not be tolerated to support it.
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        Oct 8 2012: Keep in mind many contraceptives don't actually prevent conception as such. Many women on the Pill still ovulate so fertilisation still occurs. The pill in this case prevents implantation of a fertilised ovum (zygote)
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          Oct 9 2012: Agree. And my above post may not have been totally clear. Robert said the church did not support any form of contraceptive use. That's not technically true. The Pope "authorized" condom use in 2010, but only as an attempt to prevent the spread of STD's, primarily AIDS. Now, the church has been a major player in trying to prevent the spread of AIDS since the AIDS outbreak, and continues to do so, so I'm not knocking the church. But it only "authorized" the condom use for that type of purpose, and the Pope actually refered to it as a "lesser evil". Many within the church still disagree with the Pope's decision. And the church's stance about using a condom solely to prevent a conception would be that it is still "immoral".

          In any case, the topic question is always going to be one of law in a civilized society that uses laws (as implied in other areas of this thread). And there will be people who are willing to disregard those laws just because they don't agree with them, and go out to burn down abortion clinics. So, even if a "final" determination based on scientific evidence "proved" to answer the question one way or another, or a majority "vote" of the population decided what they wanted the answer to be was, that won't mean everybody will agree or abide by it. Science vs faith vs belief is not a resolution process that normally forms a consensus across an entire population or society.
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      Gail . 50+

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      Oct 8 2012: "By that definition, many of our Presidents were not even people."

      SO TRUE!
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        Oct 8 2012: Presidents are the most evil . they use their power to benifit from people .especially in some african countries.
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          Oct 8 2012: By Roberts criteria of suffering, we should abort presidents before they are born :)
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          Oct 8 2012: Chen, your misconception of a President's power in a Republican form of government is the same misconception way too many people have.

          No President in a Republican form of government is "All Powerfull". A President can't do ANYTHING in the U.S. (for an extended period of time) without the majority consent of 100 Senators, 430 members of Congress, and ultimately the Supreme Court.

          People who blame ONE PERSON...even a President...as the person responsible for all of a country's problems have no comprehension about how the power is distributed in the country's government.

          If the leader of a country is "All Powerfull" and can do the things you say, as in your African example, then they aren't a President. They are a Dictator, with no checks and balances available against their power.

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