There’s a really fascinating string of comments under Tuesday’s post, Are You an MIE (Multi-Issue Evangelical)? regarding abortion. It’s hard to pick just one comment, but RJohnson’s stood out to me as particularly thoughtful:
“A fetus should not legally be considered a living person until it has brain activity.”
Realize that there seems to be a confusion of terms here. As I see
it, “personhood” is a legal status conferred by the laws of our nation.
It was withheld from African slaves and their descendants until a
series of Constitutional amendments and related laws were passed by the
people and their Congress. It was withheld from women until similar
events happened. And at this point it is withheld from unborn children.
Humanity is a scientifically defined status based on the genetic
makeup of the individual in question. In this case the unborn child is
human from the moment of conception, just as the unborn dog is canine
from conception, the unborn cat a feline, etc.
Science can certainly validate the humanity of an unborn child, and
any unbiased observer of an unborn child after, say, 2 or 3 months of
gestation would say that the unborn child is certainly human. Science
cannot grant personhood under the law. No observation of the child can
be made to determine personhood. Just as one could look at a black
slave in 1830 and say with certainty that he/she was human, one could
look at the same slave and say with certainty that he/she was not a
person under our laws.
Rights, under our governmental system, are granted to persons, not
humans. It may seem like pure semantics, but a study of history will
prove this. Pro-life advocates arguing that the unborn child has rights
because it is human are barking up the wrong tree. Personhood, not
humanity, is the determinant that should be discussed.