When a foetus is no longer an unborn child – just a toe-nail?

Hillary Clinton has been criticised for calling a foetus an “unborn person”. The pro-abortion movement in the US finds this beyond the pale. They find that the use of the words “unborn person” implies that the foetus is an “unborn child” which of course is unacceptable.

So is a “foetus” not an “unborn child” and of no greater significance than an overgrown toe-nail or unwanted hair? To be cut off as and when desired?

NYMagazine: Hillary Clinton drew criticism on Monday after referring to the unborn as a “person” in an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press. “The unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights,” she said, before adding, “that doesn’t mean that we don’t do everything we possibly can to help a mother who is carrying a child and wants to make sure that child will be healthy to have appropriate medical support.”

As might’ve been expected, both abortion-rights advocates and abortion opponents quickly seized on Clinton’s remarks. “Usually when you hear her talk it’s about the fetus,” Tina Whittington, executive vice-president of Students for Life, told the New York Times. “To acknowledge it’s a human person, a human child, to us it’s huge.” Other activists condemned her use of the word “person,” saying it implies the fetus is an “unborn child” — rhetoric the pro-choice movement opposes.

I don’t dispute a woman’s control over her own body. But equally she must take responsibility for her own actions. The question becomes one of liability and to whom. And when does a foetus gain an identity and become a “who”? I find that the current practice of banning abortions after a foetus is about 20 -24 weeks old (as the point when it is independently viable) somewhat illogical since the alternative to an abortion is not a premature birth.

Immortality of Identity:

So why should it be that preventing an egg being fertilised, which would otherwise go on to become a foetus, causes no moral qualms but aborting that same foetus after it has been conceived is so disturbing to some? Extending that thought, what is it that makes aborting a foetus and preventing a child from being born much less disturbing than terminating the existence of that same child after birth?

I suspect that it is our concept of “identity” rather than “life” which determines. ……

… Many societies set a limit of 22 or 24 weeks after conception as being the point when a foetus acquires the “right” to live but this boundary is irrational. This time is based on when a foetus – if born prematurely – is considered to be viable. I don’t find this very useful since the alternative to an abortion is not usually a premature birth. I note also that the probability of a foetus reaching full term changes very little after the first 10-12 weeks of a pregnancy. A 12 week old foetus has almost the same chance of being born as a 30 week old foetus. An abortion at any time after about the first 12 weeks effectively eliminates a birth which – with a 90% probability – would otherwise occur. After birth, infant mortality rates today are generally around 5% (ranging from close to 15% in the poorest parts of Africa to less than 2% in well developed societies). …..

….. A unique identity is recognisable first when an egg is fertilised. That identity cannot be foretold but it may be remembered long after the individual dies. It may in due course be forgotten. But whether or not it is forgotten, the fact of the creation of that identity remains. Forever. It is identity, once created, which remains unique and immortal.

The winner spermatozoon – image Gabriel Sancho



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