Abortion and Personhood

I hope that this will receive a wider readership.

Alastair's Adversaria

Reframing the Question of Personhood

The question of personhood rightly lies at the centre of debates over the issue of abortion. However, the way that this question is posed is seldom either helpful or illuminating. The concept of personhood that is operative within the question is one that is generally heavily freighted with problematic assumptions, on both sides of the debate. Within this post I want to suggest the possibility that we could press the question in a very different and more enlightening direction.

The question of personhood is habitually framed purely in the form of the question ‘is the fetus a person?’ By examining the characteristics of the unborn infant we are expected to reach some determination of whether it matches up to our standard of personhood.

A crucial underlying assumption here seems to be that personhood is an intrinsic property of a being. Yet such an assumption is…

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