IS AN UNBORN CHILD A HUMAN BEING?

A Conservative member of Parliament, Stephen Woodworth, is hoping to launch “a rational conversation”  about whether an unborn child is a human being.  “I am just hoping to launch a discussion and let people know what the situation is.”

Mr. Woodworth points out that the Canadian statute that defines a human being as someone who is completely separate from the mother’s body has its roots in a British legal treatise written in the 17th century.  The important question, he said, is whether a 400-year-old law is supported by 21st century  science and principles of human rights. “Whatever view one has on abortion, it would be important to know whether a child is a human being. And I  think it is really ridiculous, in  a way, that we have a  400-year-old definition of a human being that has important human rights implication.”

Is an unborn child a human being?

What do you think?

46 Comments »

  1. 1

    No, an unborn child is ~not~ a human being… yet. An acorn isn’t an oak either.

    Woodworth said: “I think it is really ridiculous, in a way, that we have a 400-year-old definition of a human being that has important human rights implication”

    Why? In what way is it “ridiculous”?

    He’s a conservative with an agenda – an anti-choice agenda. The definition of murder hasn’t changed, the definition of theft is the same…. why is the fact that something is 400 years old any indication that it isn’t valid any longer?

    No, he has an anti-choice agenda and I will appose it as long as I live.

  2. 2
    SUZANNE Says:

    An unborn child is a human being. An acorn is an oak when it starts growing.

    Woodworth said: “I think it is really ridiculous, in a way, that we have a 400-year-old definition of a human being that has important human rights implication”

    Why? In what way is it “ridiculous”?

    Because science has progressed and our laws should not reflect a Medieval view of what a human being is….

  3. 3
    Francis Says:

    An unborn child has a heart, has brain, has lung…He grows, he moves, he sleeps, he even dreams.
    Ask any pregnant women, she carries life in her womb.

  4. 4

    SUZANNE wrote: “Because science has progressed and our laws should not reflect a Medieval view of what a human being is…”

    “science” doesn’t say a damn thing about what a human being is.

    Somehow “Medieval” views are wrong to SUZANNE, but she still clings to a bronze-age myth to guide her… ironic no?

  5. Our Father who are in heaven, deliver us from Western bigots of any stripe. Amen.

  6. 6
    Jim Says:

    Many have said that a human exists if conception occurs (fertilization). Does that mean, if the law is changed to accomodate this fact (?) that someone would be charged with murder if the child is aborted intentionaly?

  7. 7
    Neil McKenty Says:

    Yes, Jim , I would saay so.

  8. 8

    Hi Neil: What a terrific topic…and disturbing too.

    I’m a pro-choice advocate, and if humanity changes to include the conception, I would have to rethink my position.
    I hope that in years to come, this won’t need to be debated.
    All it would take is real initiative on birth control. Obviously condoms and a daily pill are not reliable. Maybe an early vaccination to prevent pregnancy, which could be reversed with an antidote, when a person wants, and/or can afford to have a child.

  9. 9
    jonolan Says:

    A similar question was asked at various times by every Western nation, my own country, America being I believe the last. That question was, “Is a negro a human being?” For a long time the answer was “No.” Now those who felt that way are considered to be “on the wrong side of history.”

    I think people should think about that when they’re deciding who or what is or isn’t a human.

  10. 10
    SUZANNE Says:

    “science” doesn’t say a damn thing about what a human being is.

    Yes it does. Pro-choice advocates have redefined “human being” to not include biological human beings.

    Save us from bigots indeed!

  11. 11

    For the *sigh* millionth time, NO! a fetus is NOT a human being. Not in my opinion, and not under Canadian law!

    I’m going to make a little prediction: Woodworth is soon going to find himself without a seat on government side. No party leader will long tolerate treason in the ranks, and Harper less than most.

  12. 12

    “Yes it does. Pro-choice advocates have redefined “human being” to not include biological human beings.”

    No it doesn’t. Definitions are not science — they’re language — a whole different animal.

    Jonolon: Think about whatever you like, but that comparison does not work. And you will find the reason in my answer to Francis, below…

    Francis: “An unborn child has a heart, has brain, has lung…He grows, he moves, he sleeps, he even dreams.
    Ask any pregnant women, she carries life in her womb.”

    Well, it might have lungs, but it does not use them. When those lungs start to function, THEN it is a human being. And “life” is not necessarily a human being, either. I refer you to yonder acorn…which, even when growing, is not yet a tree any more than an egg is already a chicken.

  13. 13

    It doesn’t even have “lungs, brain, heart” etc. until differing weeks along.

    By the definition Woodworth would like to use a fertilized SINGLE cell would be a “human being”… that is clearly absurd.

  14. 14
    Francis Says:

    Life involves several stages.
    The baby stage, childhood stage, adolescence stage, adulthood stage, old age stage.
    It also includes the stages of zygote, embryo and fetus.
    The stage of the fetus is definitely part of a growth stage of human life.

  15. 15
    jonolan Says:

    Janus: A fetus is a human being just as acorn is an oak and a chick still within its egg is a chicken. Species doesn’t change based upon development level.

    You see, my comparison is apt. You’re just one of the modern people who’ve chosen a different group to define as subhuman and devoid of rights and who hide behind “science” to do so.

  16. 16
    Barbara Says:

    Legal definitions are one thing, moral definitions are another. The legal arena deals with the observables, the concrete and, I believe, cannot be extended to the growing baby in the womb of another legal person. The implications would be massive, not limited to the question of abortion. E.g. If a pregnant woman consumes alcohol and the fetus is born malformed or with fetal alcohol syndrome, is the mother to be judged a criminal? There are spontaneous abortions — is the mother culpable if she does something that may trigger a spontaneous abortion?

  17. 17
    A Different Joe Says:

    Joe Agnost: you say “By the definition Woodworth would like to use a fertilized SINGLE cell would be a “human being”… that is clearly absurd” Would you say it is clearly absurd to agree that a baby 5 minutes after its birth is a human being, but a fetus 5 minutes before its birth is not a human being?

    I you agree, then you might find the enquiries of Dr Singer of Princeton and Dr March at St Mary’s in Halifax congenial. They understand that that would be absurd, so being pro-abortion they quite openly teach the possibility of killing a human child after birth. Mr Woodworth’s “agenda” should be irrelevant to the reality of the situation. If we’re killing something, wouldn’t we like to know what it is?

    I would like to ask, if there are any biologists here, what possible categories there might be for the natural normal product of human conception other than human being. I can’t think of any

    ps People who kill human beings are not always charged with manslaughter, including famously in the past few months women who kill their children shortly after birth.

  18. 18
    A Different Joe Says:

    that should say “If you agree”

  19. 19
    jonolan Says:

    Barbara: While you make a practical point, none of those legal eventualities would necessarily follow.

    Look at the converse, which is the current state. A fetus is not considered a person yet there are no laws, civil or tort, that allow for the sire to either compel the woman to abort the pregnancy or to eliminate his fiduciary responsibilities to the child if the woman chooses not to have an abortion at his bequest.

    There are also no laws compelling women to abort defective fetuses even though in Canada the government would have a vested interest in so compelling them so as to reduce healthcare costs.

    B does not necessarily follow A in legal matters.

  20. 20

    A fetus starts as a collection of human fluids and at some time becomes a human being,and we will always debate what that time is. We nurse premature babies to life,so we have drawn a line of some sort. How much further back to we consider it human,and worth protection ?

    We don`t , as Barbara points out, arrest pregnant women who drink or smoke. So,is the line now a point of deliberate intervention, i.e. , a medical abortion,designed solely to abort the fetus ?

    Acorns are scattered on the ground,some serving as food. Plus,the tree is entirely ignorant of its existance.

    I`m going over well-travelled ground, I know.What has always troubled me was how the woman`s equality movement was grounded on abortion,something that can be seen as taking a life.

  21. 21

    I think that the women’s equality movement was about the right to make choices.

    I like all the points you’ve made.

  22. 22

    “You’re just one of the modern people who’ve chosen a different group to define as subhuman…”

    I do not define anything as anything. Do NOT try to put words in my mouth. You wouldn’t like the taste of them when they bounce back on you.

    And no, an egg is not a chicken and an acron is not a tree.

  23. 23

    “…there are no laws, civil or tort, that allow for the sire to either compel the woman to abort the pregnancy or to eliminate his fiduciary responsibilities to the child if the woman chooses not to have an abortion at his bequest.”

    Of course not. It’s not his body, it’s hers. SHE may do what she likes with it. HE has no options on what is her prioperty to do with as she pleases.

  24. 24
    Barbara Says:

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand your point, Jonalon. There are no laws to allow a sire (I prefer the term father — sounds less like barnyard breeding) to compel an abortion. That would be a violation upon the woman’s body, if she were unwilling (hence the use of the word compel). That is legal person to legal person action. I am no lawyer, so I cannot say if such a compulsion would be a tort or otherwise actionable in court. To refuse to pay child support if the mother does not undergo an abortion is, I am pretty sure, actionable in court. If it is demonstrated that you are the father and child support is demanded, then the courts can sanction those who do not fulfill any legal requirements.

    A woman is a legal person whose physical body is not to be violated without legal consequences.

    The point is, the House of Commons can debate matters of legislation. It is on more shaky ground when it attempts to discuss matters of conscience. These two do not always coincide.

  25. 25
    jonolan Says:

    Janus: You do define the unborn as less than human. You’ve done so explicitly right in these comments. Just own up to it.

    Barbara: My point was we don’t have laws like those I mentioned even though we don’t legally class the unborn as people with normal human and civil rights.

    A simple logical extension of that would be laws to allow sires (I don’t call me who don’t want the children fathers) to demand that the woman either abort or forfeit child support. It is after all “not a child yet” and it would make sense that the man would have some say as to outcome.

    As Janus the abortionist so succinctly puts it, it becomes a matter of property and choice.

    But there are no such laws because the law doesn’t blindly follow logic. Since it would be somewhat logical to have them and we don’t, it follows that your legal fears, also logical, are not guaranteed in any way, which was my point.

  26. 26

    By the way , happy holidays to all , and good health.

  27. 27

    jonolan wrote: “As Janus the abortionist so succinctly puts it…”

    Classy jonolan, really classy.

    A woman ~has~ to be able to do what she pleases with her body whether you like it or not. The zygote grows in ~her~ body – hence ~her~ choice. Seems simple to me.

  28. 28
    jonolan Says:

    Joe: I call them as I see them and don’t waste my efforts on PC crap – and, if her attitude wasn’t enough to identify her, the coathanger in her avatar was a sure tip.

    You see, it’s not that simple because we’re dealing with the life of a helpless innocent. You and Janus want to murder them, fine. Just own up to it and accept the consequences.

  29. 29
    Frank Lee Says:

    When the sperm fertilizes the egg, the connection between the two groups of 23 chromosomes gives place to a new 46 chromosomes-defined human being. At this very moment, a genetically distinct human being starts to exist. That being is neither the mother nor the father. It is a distinct human being. Therefore an unborn child is a human being.

  30. 30
    Frank Lee Says:

    Let’s explore what a fetus is. First, when a fetus exists, it has ‘being’. Second, when a man and a woman have a sexual intercourse at a particular moment of the woman’s cycle, when all conditions are present, a being (the fetus), genetically distinct from the mother and the father, comes from that intercourse within more or less 24 hours. Since the intercourse was between two human beings, the fetus will also be human. As a conclusion; since a fetus is a being and that it comes from the physical union of two human beings, the fetus is a human being. Now we might argue that it is not an individual or a person. That would lead to another topic of discussion. For the moment I hope we all agree that a fetus is human and that it has being = a human being.

  31. 31

    jonolan wrote: “I call them as I see them and don’t waste my efforts on PC crap…”

    Calling Janus an “abortionist” isn’t “calling them as I see them”… it’s being an A–hole!

    jonolan cont’d: “You and Janus want to murder them, fine.”

    Boy, you really are an A–hole! I (and I think Janus) don’t want to “murder” anyone. I think that women should have the ~choice~ to do what they want with ~their~ pregnancy and if that choice is to abort then that is ~their~ decision – not yours.

    I really wouldn’t care ~what~ you call the zygote, fetus, etc… if the anti-choice side weren’t intent on taking away a woman’s right to choose. I wouldn’t be against calling the fetus a Christmas Tree if there weren’t implications that went along with it (in the case of calling it a “human being” or “person” that implication would be to outlaw abortion.)!

  32. 32

    “You do define the unborn as less than human. You’ve done so explicitly right in these comments.”

    Where? I have NEVER referred to a fetus as “less than human.” Please do be specific about it.

  33. 33

    “I call them as I see them…”

    Then you need glasses, because you don’t see what’s there. You saw the coat hanger, but you didn’t see the barre cirlce, ferinstance.

    As for “murder,” phfffft*** You can’t murder a fetus.

  34. 34

    “First, when a fetus exists, it has ‘being’.”

    That’s your first error. Until you fix that one, the rest of them are moot.

  35. 35
    Jim Says:

    What I would like to know is, who taught the sperm to swim? Secondly, how did it (them) know where to go, especially in that dark cavernous tunnel. It can’t have been inherent or inherited because the sperm didn’t exist a few days/weeks before being squirted. Also sperm from a previous generation hadn’t made the trip either. Therefor the roadmap couldn’t have been mapped by the 23+23 skidoo couple. This doest not mean that the sperm itself cannot still do its duty by drumming up over 10 trillion cells, for a start, and more cells later. Putting aside as to what happens to the foetus whilst the foot bone is being connected to the ankle bone, and the ankle bone is being connected to the leg bone and the leg bone is being connected to the knee bone and the knee bone is being connected to the thigh bone…….what has always amazed me is, how do they know when to add these limbs.

  36. 36

    Well Jim, that may be the miracle of life that you describe!

  37. 37
    Jim Says:

    Watch out Littlepatti, here thy come.

  38. 38
    spiderfingers Says:

    No one needs to give up, their is always hope
    1) “It’s” exists therefore it is a being/be-ing
    2) “it” has a code not entirely matched by the mother which wouldn’t be possible if it were her therefore it is a Separate being and is not a part.

    3) that genetic code is a human genetic code. If this code where found at a murder scene on the handle of a knife or the body of a victim we would know that a specific human being was there. We would also know to refer to the human being as a he/she

    4) the human being in question is not an aggressor and can not be rationally treated as such. He/she has committed no crime and is not in the process of trying to do anything except go about the business of living.

    5) Abortion directly and intentionally kills an innocent human being, separate in it’s existence, and is by that fact clearly ethically & morally wrong by definition.

    6) Abortion by definition creates a problem far worse than anything it could purport to solve, in that it make the mother a participant (although often an unkowning one, in that she may not understand the nature of abortion) in the death of her Child.

    7) Abortion creates a psychological problem in that it saddles women with the knowledge of doing something wrong but denies healing because it denies the problem.

    8) Abortion is Anti-women unfeminist and unfeminine it asserts that a women can never be themselves because the only way to get the freedom to do so is to be party to a horror that tries to strip you of who they are.

    9) Abortion creates a demographic problem by eliminating the young it causes a shift in population from economic earners to economics dependents.

    10) abortion puts pressure on the young to become euthanize , as their parents become old and small families and small family societies lack the resources to maintain their creature comforts economic dependents seem to become cripplingly expensive.

    11) Abortion can end if people make the genuine effort to do better. In the end it won’t be an effort but come as naturally hopefully and wonderfully as life generally does. To abort is to give up, but to live is to hope. No one needs to give up, their is always hope.

  39. 39
    spiderfingers Says:

    10) should read “… young to become euthanizers,..”
    .

  40. 40

    Spiderfingers: That is a very well thought out case.
    You say : “Abortion can end if people make the genuine effort to do better.”
    Absolutely right on!
    In the meantime we need to be constantly questioning our values, and we need to support a Pro-Choice law, to preserve our rights.
    I am a Pro choice advocate. Personally, I would not suggest abortion as one of the avenues of choice, but I defend a women’s right to chose for herself, legally.

  41. 41
    jonolan Says:

    Janus & Joe: You can believe as you wish. It is only when you act or support causing the deaths of innocents that humans of moral character must stop you by and all means at our disposal.

  42. 42

    jonolan wrote: “It is only when you act or support causing the deaths of innocents that humans of moral character must stop you by and all means at our disposal.”

    Tough guy eh?

    Of course you won’t… you can’t, because we have the law on our side. That’s the reality here – you can stomp your feet and call it “murder” all you like, in the end the law supports a woman’s right to an abortion and you’ll just have to deal with it.

    Ha!

  43. 43

    jim wrote: “…who taught the sperm to swim?”

    Your ignorance of biology is astounding!

    jim cont’d: “…how do they know when to add these limbs.”

    Seriously?! Have you ever stepped into a high school biology class? If you truly are curious how a fetus developes you could always look it up… it’s not rocket science (and sadly for you, I think, it’s not god(s) either!).

  44. 44
    Neil McKenty Says:

    Actually, Joe, we don’t have the law on our side. Canada is one of the few jurisdictions in the western world that has no law whAtsoever regulating abortion.

  45. 45

    “You can believe as you wish.”

    True. Thank you for that.

    “It is only when you act or support causing the deaths of innocents…”

    No one does that.

    “…that humans of moral character must stop you by and all means at our disposal.”

    “Moral” character? Define “moral” as you think it to be. Then we can talk about the futility of that last part of your statement.

  46. 46

    “…we don’t have the law on our side.”

    Weeeeeelllllll…not specifically, no. But tacitly, yes. Having no law at all means that it’s not prohibited, which means it’s lawful and legal by inference. No one has the legal right to stop a woman from choosing abortion as a remedy to an unwanted pregnancy, therefore, she must have the legal right to choose it.


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