Defining Person (Part 2)

In part 1, I began examining the differences between this human being

and this human being.

Mere appearance and location does not qualify a human being as a person. The next obvious difference is level of development, and this difference is what most abortion advocates rely on. Abortion clinics tell women that abortion is okay, because the fetus "isn't really a baby", or "it's just a blob of cells", or "it's just a clump of tissue".

I could get into the hard, scientific facts, and list all the "human" characteristics of a very young human embryo, but that would just feed the idea that, as a human being, you have to have certain physical characteristics to be qualified as a person. For example, saying that brain waves are detectable at six weeks and two days, only implies that the fetus is a person at six seeks and two days and beyond, but not necessarily before.

The human brain doesn't finish developing until a young adult's mid-twenties. Obviously, a thirty-year-old isn't more of a person than a newborn, even though his brain may be more developed. After we are born, society doesn't attach our personhood to the level of development in our brains. When someone is completely brain-dead, they are just that--dead. They can physically be kept alive by machines doing every single bodily function for them, but there is no recovery (unlike people in a coma, or false brain death, who can recover).

Obviously, a day-old embryo does not yet have brain waves. However, the brain is developing. When a person's brain dies, the person is officially declared dead, because there's no coming back. However, you can't declare a healthy, growing embryo as not alive. The embryo does not yet have a functioning brain, just as a three-year-old girl does not have a functioning reproductive system. She is still developing that. Development takes time. Not having a functioning body part does not mean you are less than a person. Brand-new embryos have absolutely everything you do. The only thing they lack is time: time to grow into an adult.

"But thinking, rationalizing, being aware that you exist, is what makes a person," it might be argued. (And at this time we can point out unconciousness and NREM sleep as points in everyone's lives where you don't rationalize, think, or be aware that you exist.) In other words, the brain is too important to be simply considered "a body part". This is, in part, true. The ability to rationalize, philosophize, and build civilizations is one aspect that separates human beings from animals. There's a reason humans are at the top of the food chain.

It's what separates human beings from animals. All human beings are included in that category. Embryos, five-year-olds, and adults alike. So tell me this. Sit down with an average five-year-old boy and give him a piece of paper with an algebraic problem written on it. Will he be able to solve it? No, of course not. Why is that? Because he doesn't know how. He isn't yet capable of learning how. Will he be able to solve it eventually? Yes. But he needs time. Time to learn basic arithmatic first, and to understand the basics concepts of mathematics. Stand a newborn baby up and let go. Will he stand and walk? Will he sit down? No, of course not. He topples over. Why is that? Because he doesn't have the motor skills necessary to stand, walk, or sit. He is not ready.

Is there anything wrong with the children described above? No. They are perfectly normal. They are just as developed as they should be. We accept that and care for them. Why do we try to categorize some (or all) of the unborn as less than people, when we don't do so on the born? Human embryos are also perfectly normal. They are just as developed as they should be. Why do we not accept that and care for them? Is it becuase they are unable to protest? Can you imagine trying to expain this to an unborn child? "I'm sorry, three-week-old embryo, I'm aware you're Michael's sister, but as you are not as developed as other human beings, such as a 23-week-old fetus, I don't think you're a person. I also don't want to deal with another child right now, emotionally or financially. Therefore, I shall abort you. Cheers."
We can't logically have this double standard. Either all human beings are persons, or none of us are.

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