Jill Stanek



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Human life begins with personhood?


I mentioned a couple weeks ago an abortion clinic escort had asked to interview me, to which I agreed, and I asked her to reciprocate.

Jessica posted all my responses on May 27. But I thought I’d break up her responses here in order to flesh them out (although if you’d like to read ahead, and per our agreement, here is her complete interview).

Frankly, I thought Jessica dodged throughout the interview, as evidenced by her very 1st answer. This disappointed me. I expected by Jessica’s emails that her responses would be more forthright. That said, and to be fair, I think Jessica thought the same of my responses, which I have let her know I’m happy to elaborate.

I invite Jessica and her readers to further dialogue about the following 2 interview questions in my comments section.

1. When does human life begin?

I think your question is when does personhood begin?  That answer is birth. http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_when1.htm

2. Do you believe an embryo or fetus is a separate member of the species homo sapiens or just a part of a woman’s body, like her tonsils or appendix?

No, they are a member of the species homo sapiens. However, they are not born and have not achieved personhood yet.  http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_when6.htm

No, I did not mean to ask when personhood begins. I indeed meant to ask when human life begins. The link Jessica provided to the pro-abortion website ReligiousTolerance.org tried to separate the terms “human life” from “personhood,” and gave possible definitions to both, so the answers are out there. Thus, I’d still like Jessica to answer my original question.

As to “personhood,” Jessica’s link seemed to indicate that even abortion proponents disagree on when that begins:

Most pro-choicers say that personhood happens later in pregnancy. Some say that it happens:

  • When the embryo loses its tail and looks vaguely human;
  • When the fetus’ face begins to look fully human;
  • After 21 weeks gestation, a limit imposed by many state & provincial medical associated [sic];
  • When the fetus is viable – able to survive outside its mother’s body with current medical technology;
  • At about 26 weeks, when the fetal brain’s higher functions are first activated and the fetus attains consciousness;
  • When the fetus half-emerges from is/her mother’s body. This is a Jewish teaching.
  • At birth, when the fetus becomes apart from her/his mother – a newborn.
  • When the newborn’s umbilical cord is cut and she or he is breathing as an independent, separate person…
  • As noted above, Peter Singer believes that personhood is only established weeks after birth.
  • By Jessica’s answer to my 2nd question, I gather she believes personhood begins somewhere between the 2 bullet points I highlighted. I’d like to know specifically if Jessica believes the baby must be completely born before becoming a person? What if a leg is still inside the mother but all else is out? Can the baby be still be legally killed at that point in Jessica’s opinion? Must the umbilical cord be cut (the baby separated from his/her mother) and the baby to have taken his/her 1st breath – or not – to be considered a “person”?

    The website’s list of possible points “personhood” can be bestowed indicated the pro-choice community believes any or all of the following give human beings the right to life: distinct human features, size, degree of intelligence, degree of independence.

    Is that correct, Jessica?

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    Posted by on May 30, 2011.

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    Categories: Apologetics

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