When is a person a person?

Have you ever wondered what is the big deal about the abortion issue? Doesn’t it seem insensitive to women to make abortion illegal? And what if a woman was pregnant because of rape or what if her life were at risk because she is pregnant?

There is no doubt that the news of a pregnancy might not be welcomed by some women. Sometimes being pregnant means big life changes, with some of those changes being quite difficult. I don’t think anyone argues that point.

In our society, we believe that all of us deserve to have certain rights–simply because we are human beings. No matter how different from each other people may be, we understand that they are people and should be treated with dignity.

Their lives matter. They have great value. Even though animals are valued and property is valued, we hold on to the truth that we as human beings are not in the same category as these.

We are different. The life a person is precious and that life is worth protecting.

So the question that must be answered is: when is a person a person?
If a person is a person when he is born, or when he can viably live outside the womb, then some kinds of abortion would be no big deal.

But what if a person is a person at the moment he is conceived? Would abortion be alright? Is it morally acceptable for a person’s life to be terminated because the impact that person’s life has on others may be stressful or difficult?

The answer is no. We cannot take the life of one person so that so that another person’s life is less stressful or complicated.

It can be argued that there is very little difference between the person who lives outside the womb and the person who lives inside the womb. Consider this:

Size:
The person who lives outside the womb is bigger than the person inside the womb. But is it alright for us to say that someone who is smaller does not have the same rights as someone who is bigger? Does a person who is over six feet tall have more value as a person than someone who is barely four feet tall?

Level of Development:
There are many stages of human life-infant, toddler, preschooler, schoolager, teen, adult, elderly-to name a few. Does a person who is in a later stage of life have more value as a person than someone who is in a much earlier stage? Does a teen’s life have more value than a toddlers? No. Neither does the person who has already been born have more rights than the person who is waiting to be born. Before birth, there are stages of human life, too-like embryo and fetus for instance.

Environment:
Do people who live in Florida “count” more than people who live in Michigan? We would laugh as such an idea as obsurd. Still, there is question about whether an unborn person is actually a person because where he resides is inside a womb.

Degree of Dependency:
Some people require assisstance in their daily lives. A person who is blind might depend on others in many ways. Certainly a person who is a baby is very dependant on his mother for shelter, food, clothing, and hygiene. Would we ever say that that baby has less value or has fewer rights than an adult who lives with a high degree of independance? Of course not. That is why we should consider than the preborn infant, though completely dependant on mother, still has incredible value and should be givien the same kind of rights and protection as the child who is already born. [Read more...]

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