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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 11 2012: through the debate .i have a much better understanding of it
    i think the westen much more go fowad to laws .and you laws tells what you should do .while the easten do it much more from the morality.well i think laws are much more peoper fot it because it can prevent doing it from our emotins and we may have much long sight to this question and and i think we are making it gradually .it si a good machine processed to learn from .
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      Oct 12 2012: Actually Chen, I would not say that our laws tell us what we "should" do, because in my experience working with women and young girls, there is often a LOT of consideration regarding morality and religious beliefs as well.

      The law, provides a choice for women to have abortions in a safe environment with the proceedure done by competent medical professionals, rather than some of the unsafe, dangerous ways the proceedure was done prior to the law.

      The woman continues to take into consideration her own beliefs, and has the freedom to consider ALL relevant information, often with the help of councelors. In the shelter and family center where I volunteered, I never heard anyone tell a woman what she "should" do. We were there to support her in a very difficult decision, and encouraged the women to consider ALL aspects of the decision. The law protects her freedom to have a safe abortion when/if that is what she chooses.
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        Oct 12 2012: Hi Colleen, really liked your comment but sometimes I think that if the girl who wants abortion why got pregnant? There are a lot of ways through which she can avoid the pregnancy but I think its not morally good that ones gets pregnant and then she is losing her baby. No doubt its a tough decision in life of a woman to get abortion but why she decided to do this what I want to say is this if she knows that how to have sex then she must be aware how she can avoid pregnancy.
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          Oct 12 2012: Good question Noveed,
          Education for ALL men/women/girls/boys is IMPORTANT! It takes TWO to create a pregnancy!

          Actually, some of the young girls who are raped do not know anything about the reproductive process, and it is not a choice for them...that is not "morally good" either, do you think? Whose responsibility is that?

          Education is provided in the women's clinics here, including methods of birth control, and abortion, as a method of birth control IS ALWAYS DISCOURAGED.
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          Oct 12 2012: Here is another thought for you to ponder Noveed...

          Because of cultural, religious beliefs, or simply because of the demand of her partner, women often cannot say no to sex, so abstinence is not an option for many women.

          Birth control is forbidden by some religions, so that is not an option for many women.

          Abortion is forbidden by some religions, so that is not an option for some women.

          Where does that leave a woman? At the mercy of her partner or her religion, without any control regarding how her body will be used.

          And then men criticize women for not doing something about the problem, and give her total responsibility!!!

          Think about it my friend.
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        Oct 12 2012: "some of the young girls who are raped do not know anything about the reproductive process"

        I believe this is an exceptional case if not you tell me that when you were volunteer what was the percentage of cases like this?? What I think is that we should teach our younger generation that how they can avoid pregnancy instead of wasting our time whether the fetus is person or not.
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          Oct 12 2012: Colleen has tried to explain without explaining and could take the thread down a different path unintentionally, How does one try to tell a fraction of an instant in their lives without writing a book? She was a volunteer at a shelter for women that probably came from violent and abusive relationships that had their children raped and abused under the age of 12, it's just an example of what she might of come across and honestly the details always break my heart.
          Children may play act at knowing but emotionally they don't know because we were suppose to protect them til they were old enough to make their own decisions. Noveed what age group were you thinking of? Young teenage women 15 and over? This could explain the different view points of the posting direction though it is just a guess on my part.

          EDIT

          I should have used the words "Hint" and "Hinted at" rather than the words "Explain" So sorry everyone if this post confuses anyone, my mistake.
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          Oct 12 2012: Noveed,
          They are ALL exceptional cases....each one different.....each one important.

          Sorry I do not have that number for you. I agree....we should educate people more. The next question is.....are those who need education open to that possibility? We have religious fundamentalists bombing womens health centers, killing medical professionals who provide education, along with lots of innocent people. Do you think they might change their destructive practices and get some education?
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        Oct 12 2012: Exactly Colleen. The laws allow us to help mothers-to-be navigate some very difficult decisions. It is rarely ever black and white. One girl I helped was 18 years old. She was madly in love and was pregnant. Her parents disowned her for being pregnant outside of wedlock. In the workup for the pregnancy they found out she had a serious case of leukemia. All this happened in about 2 weeks.

        She could get the chemotherapy for the leukemia and it would most likely harm the fetus. She could abort the pregnancy and have the chemo and try for a pregnancy later. Or she could delay the chemo, carry the pregnancy and risk her own life.

        She is dead now. She chose to have the baby. She told me that wanted to know what being a mother was like before she died. Chances are good she would have made it through the chemo and in to remission. There was even talk of getting a court order.

        I supported her decision and helped her understand to the best of my ability. Just as I supported all the women who chose differently, I try to support them from their ethical framework, not mine. I understand from the front lines what some of the results could be if this option were legally removed for women.

        Because of my experiences, I understand women's rights, I understand children's rights and I understand the threats to them.
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          Oct 12 2012: I understand Linda. There were many times I did not agree with a woman/girl's choice, but I was not there to impose my own preferences on them. I was there to provide whatever information and resources they needed to support them in making their own decisions.

          People are NOT empowered when other people control and dominate them. We empower people by giving them the tools they need to empower themselves. Those who impose their own beliefs on others are simply trying to control, dominate and oppress. I know you know this Linda.....it is for the rest of the listening audience:>)
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          Oct 13 2012: although i dont suggest that ,i think it is part of wenman'right . she can do whatever she wants but i dont think what she did is rational. you know we are different .different values different through.i respect these.what we can do is just let them know more about herself and what it will bring about the different dicisions she made ,just as Colleen does .that is all we can do and that is in our Jurisdiction.

          we cant force sb to do something . but we can influence sb to do something
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          Oct 13 2012: I agree Chen, education is the best thing for everyone, and to force someone to do something is a violation of human rights.
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          Oct 14 2012: Ms. Linda I am sorry for that lady and I wish that she is alive.

          At the end of the day I think that we should educate the people first but where a woman tend to have abortion we should leave on her instead of forcing her not to do this.
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        Oct 13 2012: Very impressive Linda and Colleen but the thing is if a murderer want to kill someone then will the society not dominate or control him of course the society will so I believe that educating people is more important. The people especially Asian think that fetus of some weeks is a human being and removing it is a crime I am also one of them so I think education is best option. it is only for you my friend not for the rest of audience. :)
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          Oct 13 2012: I agree Noveed that education, and being familier with the laws that are in effect is very important.

          Regarding my comment:
          "People are NOT empowered when other people control and dominate them. We empower people by giving them the tools they need to empower themselves. Those who impose their own beliefs on others are simply trying to control, dominate and oppress. I know you know this Linda.....it is for the rest of the listening audience:>)"

          I know this Noveed, and I believe Linda knows this as well. Many people would like to impose their own beliefs on others, and I do not agree with that concept, nor do I believe it to be good for our global community.
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          Oct 13 2012: I agree Mr. Hussain but to this day I do not know if the young lady whose story I shared, understood that she would really be dead. I still think she had some magical thinking that she would not really die.

          Many adolescents have that magical thinking. 'It happens to other people not me.' There are limits to education and we tend to forget that.

          The consequences of her decision were deadly.
      • Ce Gzz

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        Oct 25 2012: Sure! a woman is totally given all the information about an abortion http://www.christianpost.com/news/chicago-woman-dies-after-abortion-at-planned-parenthood-78671/

        Even about possible cancer years after, right? and they are told about how they can also help them with the trauma post-abortion later? right!
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          Oct 25 2012: That is correct Ce Gzz. In all the situations I have been involved with, education, information, pre and post counceling is provided.

          The article in the link you provided, clearly says..."The medical examiner's office said that an intrauterine pregnancy contributed to her death"

          Do your homework!
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          Oct 25 2012: I agree with Colleen. In every case I have worked.
      • Comment deleted

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          Oct 26 2012: Ce Gzz,
          I think you have been misinformed...or maybe not at all informed!

          I understand that you do not agree with abortion, and you are going around in circles trying to argue against the facts.

          A medical examiner is not in any way responsible for counceling a woman regarding abortion, so for you to say that the " the examiner's office could have warned her before just putting her inside your favorite Planned Parenthood. NEGLIGENCE all the way" is ridiculous!!!

          The medical examiner, apparently did his/her job as appropriate, and ruled that an "intrauterine pregnancy contributed to her death". It appears that her "pregnancy CONTRIBUTED to her death", otherwise the medical report would have said that abortion was the CAUSE of death.

          You have no idea of the circumstances. That article was posted on the "Christian Post", so it would not surprise me if the details were inaccurate or altogether missing.

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