Home Re/formation Institute IS THE FETUS A "PERSON"?
Written by Calvin Fox   
Friday, 19 July 2013 10:19

From a substantial article by Dr Francis Beckwith-

"Over the past decade or so several challenges to the prolife understanding of fetal personhood have been published. Two of the authors who have contributed much to this critique are Jeff McMahon and Dean Stretton. The purpose of this chapter is to respond to some of their arguments. My point of departure will be Stretton’s 2008 Journal of Medical Ethics review (Stretton, 2008, pp. 793–797) of my 2007 book, Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice (Beckwith,

In Defending Life I offer a defense of fetal personhood, which I call the substance view (Beckwith, 2007, chs. 4 and 6). According to the substance view, the human being is a particular type of living organism—a rational moral agent—that remains identical to herself as long as she exists, even if she is not presently exhibiting the functions, behaviors, or current ability to immediately engage the activities that we typically attribute to active and mature rational moral agents. Because the human being is a rational moral agent, she is a person of intrinsic moral value as long as she exists.

When I say that the fetus is a person I mean to say that she is just as much a bearer of rights as any person whose rights-bearing status is uncontroversial, e.g.,her mother, you, or me. That is, the fetus is entitled to all the rights to which free and equal persons are entitled by virtue of being free and equal persons.


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