I read a question from a lady on a friend’s post, trying to figure out when a fetus was a person. To her mind, the moment conception happens, there is now a person, fully protected by law. Thus, to her, abortion is murder.
The current earliest cutoff date for abortion in some state’s legislation is 6 weeks, which is the point when a fetal heartbeat is detected. This is one and a half months.
One way of thinking about it is viability. Can the baby survive without medical intervention?
The earliest a baby has survived outside the womb is 21 weeks and 5 days. This is just shy of 5 and a half months. However, babies at that age need extreme medical intervention, which is very costly. Can the parents afford that? Will insurance pay?
Interestingly, even babies born at 36 weeks (9 months) can experience respiratory distress and need to be in NICU. They are often not able to survive on their own and need intervention. The current “full term” date for a child is 39 weeks.
So at what point is the child able to live without assistance?
Should the fact that children need constant attention from parents or guardians for many years be considered assistance? Children will not survive for the first several years of their life without someone else providing them food, shelter, and attention.
Children are not legally considered adults until a minimum of 16, when they can get a driver’s license, 18 when they can vote, and 21 when they can drink alcohol.
So at what point are they considered legally independent of their parents? Parents are not legally responsible for their children’s actions when they reach 18.
Consider the opposite end of the spectrum, where adults are on life support due to accident or illness. When do you cease life support? Are they “alive” if machines are doing all the work?
Consider suicide, when people feel their life is not worth living. Do they have the legal right to kill themselves?
Consider social welfare assistance – food stamps, subsidized housing – are these forms of “life support”?
At what point do you start to be human, and at what point do you stop?