Morality and Medicine

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QUESTION III
At what stage in the development process does a fetus become a person with a right to life? This question can be found at the heart of many arguments regarding the controversial topic of abortion. Humans can agree that killing another human is immoral, but the definition of humanity proves to be the source of divergence. The highly debated issue is the point at which a potential human, such as a fetus, gains the same rights as other persons in our society. According to the Constitution of the United States, only viable fetuses have the right to life. On the other hand, Peter Singer argues that fetuses gain such a right to life at a much earlier stage. Singer contends that the sentience of an early embryo warrants a right to life. Despite the differing views on when a fetus gains a right to life, the Roe v. Wade and Singer perspectives are similar in respect to implications for related issues, such as infanticide, IVF, and cloning. This essay will analyze these two conflicting standpoints on abortion by highlighting both defenses and critisms of each and explaining their implications for related issues. In the 1973 Roe v. Wade case, the Court ruled that decisions regarding abortions can be left up to the woman within the first trimester because a fetus does not have a Constitutional right to life during that period (Pro-Life Activities). This law is based on the principle of viability. Within the first 12 weeks of development, a fetus lacks the capacity to survive on its own. Without its mother as a host, the developing fetus cannot breathe oxygen or intake nutrients from food. On the other hand, a person does not require a host in order to obtain the necessary oxygen, water, and food in order to survive. It is not until a fetus gains the ability to survive outside of the womb that the fetus can be considered a person. Therefore, a fetus still developing with the first 12 weeks of pregnancy cannot be deemed a person and is not guaranteed a right to...
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