Today, the case of the unborn fertilized human embryo is under hot debate. To one side of the argument, called the anti-abortion or “pro-life” camp, the embryo is an unborn baby, brimming full of life and practically pleading to be brought to term and then birth. The other side, the abortion right’s or “pro-choice” camp, labels this embryo as a fetus, frequently in an unfavorable light. The past forty years in America has seen a see sawing of public interest and involvement intros issue. Briefly, I will establish a case for the unborn fetus as a person to whom constitutional rights ought to be extended.
Most important to this argument, perhaps, is the question of when exactly a “person” ceases to be a fetus and becomes a baby, or more simply, when a fetus becomes a person. Pro-choice advocates will claim that until the mother’s body has been evacuated, the unborn fetus is not a person, and so afforded none of the rights they would extend to a truly living, breathing human. Pro-life advocates point to the unique DNA of the baby, created or blended from mother and father at the point of inception months or weeks previously. Considering that this same DNA is used by law enforcement to track down both criminals and missing persons, this is a fairly strong claim to life, eventual life at the very least. Later on, fingerprints and a heartbeat begin to show up in this unborn person.
Less important than the realization of life and individuality, but nonetheless of great importance to this debate, is the classification of person in a constitutional sense. While the constitution itself does not specify what exactly a person is, and indeed, the matter of that question has been in a state of flux since the constitution’s inception, there does exist some precedence to aid the answering of this question. With the exception of corporations, all persons influenced by the constitution are human. A seemingly trivial point this is, but important nonetheless; voting persons were only landowning white men once upon a time. This bottlenecking of voters has gradually been expanded upon, first to those not land owning, then to men of all ethnicity, then finally to women. With the vote, comes an inevitable expansion of rights to the new group.
But the right to vote is not the mark by which a human is granted the benefits of the constitution, rather it is a benefit to some of those who are affected, a subgroup of the true body of persons. Without doubt, once a baby has been born (and at the very least at this moment the word is the appropriate term to use) it receives constitutional protection. Abortion itself is illegal in America after this moment, and termed murder and infanticide. This reversal is disingenuous; for more than a month before “term” a baby that is born has a fairly decent chance to live given even a relatively normal level of care. Even significantly before term can a baby survive if given the attention and medical aid.
Because there is no doubt as to the eventual form of a fetus, that is a fertilized human embryo, is in fact a human being that will generally become a functioning member of society at some level given the opportunity to life, I feel that a fetus/baby/fertilized embryo ought to have the very same constitutional rights afforded a born baby, at the very least.
(This was a short paper for critical thinking, written at night with no proofreading, so yeah…)