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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 17 2012: When we end the life of a living thing, we call it killing.
    OR harvesting, picking, reaping and others I can't think of, that are less volatile terms.
    When we intentionally end the life of a human being, we call it murder. Premeditated murder.

    But, a fetus is not a person but only a human being (murder?) that hasn't really developed into the "being".
    They are, but they are not being.

    We need to really be educated, without hidden moral lies and motives, about life. But we really don't know the truth and many of the so-called experts are not trustworthy.

    Just want to add, that though I am on the side of women in this regard (60/40), I don't understand the concept of slave-ownership of the fetus, baby, child.

    Ultimately, we should all mind our own business, but since pregnancy takes two, so should abortion, for the ownership has to be between two.

    Using rape is a lousy example. It is only a way of stopping the conversation. Unless, women believe, think or pretend that all coupling with a male is actually a form of rape. Do ladies think this? I know many who do. It is a very dangerous slope to slide around on.

    Clearly, the Christian country known as America has virtually no qualms about killing millions of people, particularly babies and children. So, methinks from that alone, this isn't even a moral dilemma at all.
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      Oct 17 2012: I agree Random, that "we need to really be educated, without hidden moral lies and motives about life".

      Lest we misunderstand the meaning of rape:
      "Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent, such as a person who is unconscious or incapacitated." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape

      If it is determined by law that a fetus is NOT a person, and if abortion is legal, it is reasonable to expect those in the community to respect those laws, and the rights of others, no matter what their personal beliefs and preferences are.

      It is a "moral dilemma" for those who have certain beliefs, and I respect the beliefs of others. I do not agree with imposing one's beliefs onto others.
      • Ce Gzz

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        Oct 25 2012: then why the idea that a "fetus" is not a person, should be imposed in those of us who respect LIFE from conception? Very tolerant Mrs. Steen.
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          Oct 25 2012: Ce Gzz,
          Nothing is being imposed on you. When/if you face the decision, you have the choice to carry the pregnancy to term or not. That is simply a human right, for each of us to decide how our body will be used.
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          Gail . 50+

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          Oct 26 2012: Who is imposing abortions on you? Are you pregnant and facing a mandatory abortion? Are you Chinese? What other countries impose abortions on its citizens? That's the only way that an abortion can be imposed.

          If you are offended by abortions because your god doesn't like them, then don't have one. It's that simple. But please don't impose your god's dictates on those who don't recognize it.

          You know, if you want to convince women to stop having abortions, it would help if you would speak to them with civility. I've read your hateful and ignorant comments. There is no need to treat TEDsters so badly. Perhaps it's time for you to read the terms of service. They require you to treat others with respect. So far, you are failing to do that.
      • Ce Gzz

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        Oct 26 2012: Sure it is (not on me), but on teen girls who are not presented other options, or even worst not exposed to the dangers abortion can carry into her life. That is indoctrination. Human right is to LIVE! not to kill. And please avoid speaking about a body that doesn't belong to the pregnant woman... the child's body.
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          Oct 26 2012: Human rights apply only after a human being is born.

          Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Article 1
          "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

          Constitutional rights are granted when a human being becomes a person.

          Human rights and civil rights are not the same. Human rights were established in 1948.

          But you have all the rights in the world as a human being and a person to come up with your own belief system.
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          Oct 26 2012: Ce Gzz - are you simply trying to offend people and get them upset, or have you not thought this one through?

          The fertilized egg IS the property of the woman. It is a parasite in HER body. If the child can survive on its own, then it has a right to live. If it cannot, it is not a person. It's a POTENTIAL person.
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          Oct 26 2012: Ce Gzz,
          As much as you would like to, you CANNOT dictate how a woman or young girl will use her body...that is a violation of human rights.

          In case you didn't know, the fetus is totally sustained by the systems of the woman's body, so technically, the fetus does indeed "belong" to the pregnant woman/girl.

          Please avoid speaking about things of which you apparently are unaware. As Linda reminds you Ce Gzz, you are welcome to your own belief system.

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