When does a fetus become a person?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Kalns, Mar 22, 2007.

  1. Kalns macrumors regular

    Kalns

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    #1
    It was said in another thread that a fetus doesn't become a person until it comes out of it's mother's womb. I'm curious then, when it comes to the issue of abortion, let's say that at a very early stage the fetus were removed from it's mother's womb. Is it then a person? If not, and you insist on saying that it's only a person when it reaches full development, then does that make premature babies less of a person than those delivered on time? And does that mean those who are delivered late are more of a person even than the one delivered on time?
     
  2. bearbo macrumors 68000

    bearbo

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    #2
    the fetus become a person when the baby is delivered, whether through premature delivery or regular delivery. it doesn't just become a person because it's no longer in the mother's tummy
     
  3. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    #3
    when it can legally vote a politician out of office. :confused:
     
  4. calculus Guest

    calculus

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    #4
    Can we please stop this now. No good can come from this 'discussion',
     
  5. TheAnswer macrumors 68030

    TheAnswer

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    #5
    It's a matter of discrete definitions, different camps like to blur the definitions to bring emotion to their rhetoric.

    Simply...a person is a human that can be considered an individual...thus, any baby is a person (unless you have two persons in one body via a birth defect or other events)...a fetus is still in the womb, a baby is outside the womb. A child is either, both a fetus and a baby are children. The dividing line between fetus and baby is probably breathing air outside the womb.
     
  6. Kalns thread starter macrumors regular

    Kalns

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    #6
    Let's say theoretically that a medical induced delivery occurred at 3 months. Now let's say that through the wonders of science that baby is kept alive for the remaining 6 months it otherwise would have spent in it's mother's womb. Is the baby then a person at 3 months when it's still undeveloped or does it have to wait until a later time to be described as a person? If it's not a person at that point then what must happen before it becomes one and if it is then why can't the same standard be applied all fetus' regardless of physical location in relation to the mother's womb?
     
  7. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    Except we can find out how long it will take an abortion thread to be aborted by the site doctors.

    It is one of those crazy topics that should be automatically aborted, but can fester unseen for days as it grows into a disfigured and ugly thread.
     
  8. Shadow macrumors 68000

    Shadow

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    #8
    From the New Oxford English Dictionary:

    fetus |?f?t?s| ( Brit. (in nontechnical use) also foetus) noun ( pl. -tuses ) an unborn offspring of a mammal, in particular an unborn human baby more than eight weeks after conception.

    Origin late Middle English : from Latin, ‘pregnancy, childbirth, offspring.’

    Usage The spelling foetus has no etymological basis but is recorded from the 16th century and until recently was the standard British spelling in both technical and nontechnical use. In technical usage, fetus is now the standard spelling throughout the English-speaking world.
     
  9. iBlue macrumors Core

    iBlue

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    #9
    This is all getting to the point of viability - When the fetus can survive without the mother. the answer is around 22 weeks, where machines and constant care in a NICU can usually maintain the baby's life.

    I don't have an answer to the actual topic , it's too tricky a question.
     
  10. Kalns thread starter macrumors regular

    Kalns

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    #10
    So if we adhere strictly to the oxford definition, if a baby is birthed (by medical means) 8 weeks into the pregnancy it is a person and no longer a fetus. So then the only defining factor between a human being and a fetus is it's physical location in relation to the mother correct?
     
  11. iBlue macrumors Core

    iBlue

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    #11
    not possible. the point of viability is much further on than the point in which a woman can receive an abortion.
     
  12. Kalns thread starter macrumors regular

    Kalns

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    #12
    I wasn't implying the fetus would live when birthed, merely questioning it's being.
     
  13. calculus Guest

    calculus

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    For me this argument is about as useful as trying to answer the question "When does a child become an adult?"
     
  14. Kalns thread starter macrumors regular

    Kalns

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    #14
    Yes, but we don't have a discussion about whether it's ethical to kill children before they become adults. :p
     
  15. thedude110 macrumors 68020

    thedude110

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    #15
    *blinks*

    Except that the fetus at 8 weeks is still a part of the mother, whereas your hypothetical, "birthed" and intubated baby is not.

    This is hardly a dismissable distinction.

    Or better, the woman can hardly be dismissed.
     
  16. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #16
    Why do you think the definition of a foetus is the crux of abortion?
     
  17. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #17
    I think a fetus becomes a child when it becomes self-aware.

    I don't know when that point is. Clearly, it isn't self-aware at a week. Clearly, it is at eight months. I don't know enough about neurology to answer the question, but I do note that response to stimulus does not imply self-awareness. Worms respond to stimuli. They are not self-aware. For that matter, my Mac responds to stimuli. And I doubt it'll ever be self-aware, at least not until Leopard hits 10.5.3 or better.
     
  18. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #18
    Sure we do. That's what the argument over executing juvenile offenders is about, isn't it?

    Isn't 18 just as arbitrary a point in time as birth to determine whether or not someone can be executed?
     
  19. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #19
    At 22 weeks you're dealing with "occasionally" not "usually." Additionally, among the survivors, you're also talking about babies that will most likely have severe problems with visual, auditory, mental, and resperatory development, among other problems (meaning blind, deaf, severely retarded...). You have to get to 24 weeks to get to 50% survival rates (to discharge from hospital--obviously those discharged die at higher rates than non-premies).

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/101/6/975/F2

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/101/6/975

    The difference between 21 weeks and 25 weeks is tremendous. You're dealing with something like a 5% chance of survival vrs a 65% chance of survival.
     
  20. TheAnswer macrumors 68030

    TheAnswer

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    #20
    It's also important to determine by whose definition we consider the fetus and the mother separate beings. Before creating this line using just medical and physical properties, perhaps it's important to remember that the fetus or baby develops its own recognition of its own beingness (it's separateness from mother and other) rather late in the game. Some scientists say the "terrible twos" are the height of this phase that doesn't begin right after birth. If you choose to factor in the child's own beliefs as to it's status as a being, abortion could be legally carried out well in the the first year of a baby's life.
     
  21. iBlue macrumors Core

    iBlue

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    #21
    fair enough, poor choice of words.

    My aunt is a NICU RN. I've seen several 24-25 weekers who I'm told made out ok, the opposite happens as well. It is all a terrifying sight. I don't know how she does it. I feel very strongly that science is not always doing these babies any favours.
     
  22. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    But then the definitions in this thread are completely askew to start. A foetus is a scientific term for a conception in utero. We've also got terms for zygote, blastocyst, embryo, pre-natal, peri-natal, and post-natal that all describe the terms of the baby in respect to it's physical development and birth. When it comes to 'person' it's an amorphous colloquial term that has really no meaning in relation to anything scientific.

    What constitutes a 'person' is a philosophical question and will no doubt be different for everyone. Is an individual no longer a person if they are brain dead? No longer self-aware due to brain damage, confusion, or dementia? Are they more than one 'person' if suffering from psychosis? Do they stop being a person when they are dead?
     
  23. atszyman macrumors 68020

    atszyman

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    #23
    Viability outside the womb would be a key component. As would a myriad of other factors. If we're going to start classifying in-the-womb fetuses as human beings are we going to give them Social Security Numbers and "Conception" certificates (apparently the government doesn't recognize them before birth since we don't have to document conceptions, only births, unless it looks like it will cost a politician votes, then it becomes more important to define life beforehand) as soon as a doctor verifies the pregnancy? Are we going to start having funerals and official death records for all miscarriages (I know some people do the funerals and if it helps them cope with a traumatic event then by all means let them). What about the countless fertilized eggs that never implant in the womb or very early miscarriages that just pass through as though it were a normal menstrual cycle?

    Probably the simplest place to draw the line is viability outside of the womb. As medicine advances this place will move closer and closer to conception. If medicine were to advance far enough to have "artificial wombs" what happens to excess IVF zygotes? With an artificial womb they would all be viable outside of the womb, does this mean that IVF clinics will now be required to allow every zygote to be given an chance in an artificial womb? Are parents who undergo IVF going to be required to have potentially as many kids as they have eggs fertilized?

    The line is indefinite and can be run back to the point of silliness very easily and won't get any easier to define as medical advances are made that can make premature babies viable earlier and earlier. Are we going to have to have women have monthly checkups to verify that no eggs were fertilized and that there wasn't an early miscarriage?

    I don't know that there will ever be a satisfactory answer to this question, but I don't think banning abortion is the right answer either. Abortions should be safe, legal, and rare.
     
  24. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #24
    Manslaughter for foetuses that cause the death of the mother?
     
  25. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #25
    "I'd like a 40th trimester abortion please" - Leanne Cartman
    ;)

    (Don't freak out people, it's a South Park reference.)
     

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