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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: The Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-212) recognizes a "child in utero" as a legal victim, if he or she is injured or killed during the commission of any of over 60 listed federal crimes of violence. The law defines "child in utero" as "a member of the species Homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb".
    In addition to this federal law (aka: Laci and Connors Law), 35 states in the U.S. have fetal homocide laws recognizing the unborn as persons. Of course there is the 5th and the 14th Constitutional Amendment which guarantee equal protection to every American but do not, no matter how obviously intended, contain the specific words "fetus" or "unborn." These all support the fetus as a person.
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      Oct 8 2012: "The Unborn Victims of Violence Act is a United States law introduced into congress in 1999 which defines violent assault committed against pregnant women as being a crime against two victims: the woman and the fetus she carries.[1] This law was passed in 2004 after the murder of Laci Peterson and the fetus she was carrying."

      Only if the violence is against the woman carrying the fetus.


      You can't harm a fetus unless you harm the mother. Because it is the mother that has the rights. The fetal rights are violated ONLY if the mothers rights are violated. Fetuses are NOT PERSONS.

      You can only convict on fetal homicide if the fetus died as a result of illegal activity. The only way to bypass the rights of the mother is if she looses them through legal means and that includes participating in illegal activity. The fetal homicide laws are being applied to women who loose their babies due to an addiction. That's what they were designed for. How great is that? So now they are charged with homicide in addition to loosing a baby. Maybe some of them actually wanted to carry the pregnancy.

      Go ahead Mr. Long. Do some more research.

      The woman has the rights because she is a person.
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        Oct 8 2012: Wow! You gave that response a lot of thought. Will all the information of value regarding the issue of Abortion die with you, Ms. Taylor? Why are you so caustic? Civility is another option you could consider. Do abortion clincs have your words framed on the walls of their Procedure Rooms: "You can't harm a fetus unless you harm the mother."? Thank you for that concise pro-life gem, may I use it? Thank you!
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          Oct 8 2012: That is just data Mr. Long. I do apologize if it came across as caustic.

          I am passionate about the right to self-determination and I apologize if it slanted my posting in any way.

          I truly truly believe when we give up that right we are in deep doo doo. It makes women someone's property. I don't want that to happen.

          Once again fetuses have no rights and you cannot take rights away from the mother unless she gives them up.

          I do not care about abortion.
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        Oct 8 2012: I appreciate your fervor for women's rights. I feel the same way about everyone's rights. None of us has a right to run roughshod over another "person". Thus the volatility of Mr. Anjorin's question. Some think an unborn baby deserves equal rights, and some don't. Peace.
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          Oct 8 2012: I actually agree with you Mr Long. I am just against the rights of the unborn supplanting the rights of the mother. Because that just makes the mother irrelevant at best or someone's property at worse. And that is wrong in my book.

          And don't confuse women's rights with this issue. It really is about self-determination and gender really does not matter.

          I don't care about how much money women make or what is commonly termed women's rights.
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        Oct 8 2012: We are fighting for the same thing. . . individual and equal rights for everyone, including mothers and fathers-to-be and their babies, with no one's rights superseding the rights of another. Fight on!
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          Oct 8 2012: Let me try to illustrate.
          ........................Pro Choice...................Pro Life...................???
          Men.................. Has rights..................Has rights..............Has rights

          Women............. Has rights..................NO rights...............Has rights

          Fetus..................NO rights ..................Has rights.............Has rights

          By rights I am talking about self-determination here. Since a fetus has no self this is where a lot of the confusion comes in.

          So in the pro choice scenario, the woman has rights but the fetus does not. The pro life scenario has women with no rights but the fetus has rights.

          What is the scenario where all three have rights? That is where we need to go.

          But if the only options are pro life/pro choice, the woman wins hands down. And our current system in the United States supports this legally.

          Perhaps some day we will have the technology to support the third option.
        • Oct 30 2012: I don't see how a person can say they have the right to kill an innocent person. It doesn't make sense!
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        Oct 9 2012: Clever chart Linda! Things I notice on it:
        1) Males are only ones who have rights in all three scenarios. This is often moot because in an abortion of convenience resulting from casual sex the dude could not care less. He has moved-on to the next "challenge".
        2) Pro-Lifers believe mothers-to-be have no rights. I am pro-life and I believe the mother-to-be has rights. Maybe I, and those like me, belong in that third category?
        3) Our society depends heavily on labels and the third category has no label. Maybe it should be called "Pro Equality"? Thank you!
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          Oct 10 2012: I am honored Mr. Long by your reflective post. I know how much your faith means to you and how strongly you value life. I really appreciate that you understand what I am saying and that you realize I am not against your values or beliefs.

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