(Recently on another website I had some discussion about “Personhood and Citizenship” with a reader named “My turn.” I will reproduce here the more probing parts of that reader’s critique, and my replies. -Acyutananda)
A fetus has potential to be a person, but is not one yet, and it is not guaranteed by nature.
No Termination without Representation (Acyutananda):
“A fetus has potential to be a person, but is not one yet . . .”
This was clearly rebutted in the post, so to be convincing you would have to address that rebuttal. Please see the post again.
“. . . and it is not guaranteed by nature”
It is not guaranteed by nature that a 4-year-old will turn 5, but we have no moral right to kill her.
[In your post there is] not alot of science (none in fact). . . . It did not rebut anything. The cornerstone of your argument seems to be that because we were all once a fetus, a fetus is therefore a person. This is not logical, as each person was once two haploid cells, and before that genetic code in our parents gonadal cells. You still have not made the case that undeveloped fetuses are any more “people” than the living cell stages before it. Nor have you made a case for giving them rights, especially greater rights than the living enjoy, and at the expense of subjugating the woman.
The cornerstone of my argument, as regards your points, is:
“One can define personhood, or define anything, in any way one likes. But to view any object of the universe, not to mention an unborn child, with disregard of its potential, would be a very abstract and disconnected way of seeing reality. Full human potential exists at the zygote stage.”
This is what rebuts your attempts at definition. [Web pages] such as this one are full of definitions. Objectively speaking, none of the definitions is right or wrong. It is all semantics. I put my definition, rather, on a subjective, psychological basis: if one disregards the potential, one’s view of anything will be very abstract and disconnected. If one disregards the potential of an unborn child, one’s view will be “disconnected from the deepest nature of our species.”
No one can prove this objectively, but look deep enough within yourself and you’ll see it. You appeal to objective science, but in the field of psychology, objective science cannot even presently prove that you are aware of your thoughts, although you know that you are. Science can prove by the outcomes of your thinking that you have thoughts, but cannot prove that you are aware of them. Each of us has to do lonely experiments in our own mental laboratory to test some hypotheses of psychology.
You wrote: “The cornerstone of your argument seems to be that because we were all once a fetus, a fetus is therefore a person. This is not logical, as each person was once two haploid cells, and before that genetic code in our parents gonadal cells.”
At those times the “person” did not have the DNA of a person, i.e., the DNA that it would maintain at 1 month of gestation, at 4 years, at 60 years. I think brother pmsulley [another contributor on that web page] has made the point about the DNA of a zygote.
You wrote: “and at the expense of subjugating the woman.”
This also is addressed in the [post]. I gave an example of a man legally and morally required to sacrifice some of his interests for the sake of a baby. Again, you may have your own definition of “subjugation,” but if this is subjugation, it is highly justifiable subjugation.
[end of dialogue]
My last reply does not mean that women who abort in violation of the unborn child-protection laws of the future should be severely prosecuted, if prosecuted at all. But abortionists who flout the decisions of the future “life panels” set up according to those laws, should be considered to have taken innocent life without justification.
Reflecting further on the dialogue, I would observe that if objective science cannot presently be our exclusive guide on this particular moral issue — abortion — then better not to forcibly contrive an exclusively-scientific formulation, or claim to have successfully arrived at such a formulation, as some do.
Above I said that at the pre-conception stages of haploid cells and their pre-conception genetic code, “the ‘person’ did not have the DNA of a person, i.e., the DNA that it would maintain at 1 month of gestation, at 4 years, at 60 years.” On the question of identification as a member of the human race, objective science is very clear and there are no arguments; on the question of personhood, it is strange that some people divorce it from such identification, but some people do.
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(This post, first published August 1, 2013, is an explanation of why there should be no termination without representation.)
The unborn babies of the world today, January 7, 2015, are living their lives just as you and I were living our lives a short time ago, and as each of us may, in the view of many, soon be living our lives again. What you are today is you as you are today, and what you were not long ago was the same you, as the unborn baby that you were then. An unborn baby is a typical person, operating as one would expect a typical person to operate at its age. It should be considered a citizen of its respective nation or nations, or a citizen of the world, with the rights of a citizen. The era in which we treated the unborn, legally and otherwise, as second-class and “other,” will in future be seen like the dark ages.
One can define personhood, or define anything, in any way one likes. But to view any object of the universe, not to mention an unborn child, with disregard of its potential, would be a very reductive and disconnected way of seeing reality. Full human potential exists at the zygote stage.
And yet, an unborn baby is “a citizen who complicates the life of another citizen.” Let’s look at an example of what this means: Continue reading →