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
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
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
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
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