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Religious Tolerance logo

Abortion access

When, during the processes that lead
up to birth, does human life become
a human person?

Part 2

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This topic is continued here from the previous essay

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Fetal outline 1

An outline of a fetus

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This webmaster's response in the "comments section" of The Blaze article:

I posted my personal opinion on MAR-30 at 9:43 AM: [BIAS ALERT]

"Finally, someone gets it!

Shapiro identifies the core question about abortion access to be: 'when does human life become a human person?'

Unfortunately, many pro-lifers identify all stages of development from a zygote (an ovum after fertilization) to a newborn baby as “babies.” This confuses the difference between human life and human personhood. Also, unfortunately, many pro-choicers promote a woman’s right to choose abortion until at or near the end of pregnancy when the fetus is clearly a baby, and is able to function independently outside of its mother’s womb.

My understanding is that doctors define the end of personhood — death — to occur when the higher brain functions end. My belief is analogous to this: the beginning of personhood is achieved by the fetus when her or his higher brain functions first begin. This happens at about 24 weeks gestation. My belief is that abortions should be restricted after about 21 weeks to cases that endanger a woman’s life or seriously endangers her health. This allows for a few weeks safety factor.

I am neither pro-life nor pro-choice. Thus my position is attacked by both sides."

At that point, my posting reached the maximum length allowed, so I could not finish my thought. 2

If I had been allowed more characters, I would have written something like:

"A major conflict has been underway since before the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973. There has been an enormous amount of debate over whether women should have access to abortions. But there has been little actual dialogue. Dialogue happens when two or more people come together, suspend their very natural desire to convince the other person(s) that the latter is wrong, and attempt to reach common ground.

A consensus will never be found over whether, and under what conditions, a woman who is pregnant, has become informed of her alternatives and decided that she should have an abortion should be granted access. But perhaps a 60 or 70% agreement can be reached."

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A horrendous example of inability -- or lack of desire -- to communicate:

On 2017-JAN-31, Tucker Carlson of Fox News interviewed Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) on the Daily Signal. In their exchange, Swalwell was using the common avoidance technique often employed by politicians: to provide an answer to a question other than the question that was actually asked.

Carlson: Do you think it is the taking of a human life, abortion?

Swalwell: I think that, right now … before viability, a woman should be able to make her own decision. After viability, in the case of her own psychological health, in the case of rape or incest, she should also be able to make that decision.

Carlson: OK, but is it the taking of a human life?

Swalwell: That is a woman’s personal decision.

Carlson: OK, but what do you think? I’m not asking about the decision, I mean is it human life or not?

Swalwell: She’s terminating something that she does not want, and that’s her own choice.

Carlson: OK, but do you think it’s human life?

Swalwell: Do I think—I think, at viability, a baby … should be decided by the woman. She’s the one who has to have it.

Carlson: You brought it up, that’s why I’m pressing you, but do you think, before viability, it’s a human life or something else?

Swalwell: I think it’s not viable yet, Tucker, and courts have decided this and it’s a woman’s decision.

Carlson: You’re not going to answer my question, now or ever I suspect, but you should because it’s a basic question I think. 3

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Webmaster's second posting: [BIAS ALERT]

I posted a comment to The Daily Signal article on 2017-MAR-19 at about 7 AM ET. However, since that web site is conservative, they might find my comment unacceptable and delete it. I said:

"The politician here is using a common ploy: answer a question with a detailed answer that has no connection to the original question.

Most people who are aware of the processes of gestaton believe that a zygote -- a just-fertilized ovum immediately after the process of conception has ended -- is a form of human life. That is because it is clearly alive and contains human DNA.

Most people believe that a newborn human is not only a form of human life but is also a human person. THE burning question that is rarely considered, even more rarely asked [in public], and virtually never examined is when does human life become a human person?

Some aboriginal cultures say that the onset of personhood happens after birth at a tribal ritual when the infant is given a name. The historical Jewish belief is that it happens when the fetus is half emerged from its mother's body,

I personally believe that it happens about the 24th week of gestation when the fetal brain's higher functions first turn on and it becomes sentient and aware to some degree of its environment, I base this on the fact that human personhood ends at death when these higher brain functions permanently end, even though human life continues [for a while] in the form of living skin cells. So it makes sense to me that personhood begins when those brain functions first start up.

Some say it happens when the embryo loses its gill slits and tail, and begins to look human. A lot of people believe it happens at conception. Until a consensus is reached on this fundamental question, there is no hope of settling under what conditions an abortion is an ethical choice. Unfortunately, I have never been able to detect any dialogue on this matter.

I have written an essay on this topic at which goes into more detail." 3

About 40 minutes after the above posting, Steve Nimocks posted a response:

"Rationalize all you want. At the end of the day, abortion is murder. Period."

To which I responded:

"It is not murder if human life that is not a human person is involved. Then it is killing, not murdering." 3

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Outline of a human fetus, Pixabay free image. CC0 Public Domain, at:
  2. Oliver Darcy "Shapiro Gets Into Tense Back-and-Forth With Pro-Choice Student, Demands She Explain When Life Begins," The Blaze, 2016-MAR-26, at:
  3. Katrina Trinko, " The Daily Signal, "The Question the Left Won’t Answer on Abortion," The Daily Signal, 2017-FEB-01, at:

Site navigation:

 Home page > "Hot" topics > Abortion > Personhood > here

 Home page > "Hot" topics > Abortion > Basic facts > Personhood > here

 Home page > "Hot" topics > Abortion > Laws > Personhood > here

 Home page > "Hot" topics > Abortion > Religion/ethics > Personhood > here

Copyright © 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2017-MAR-19
Latest update : 2017-MAR-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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