Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-1-1985

Abstract

The focus of the abortion debate in the United States tends to be on whether and at what stage a fetus is a person. I believe this tendency has been unfortunate and counterproductive. Instead of advancing dialogue between opposing sides, such a focus seems to have stunted it, leaving advocates in the sort of “I did not!” – “You did too!” impasse we remember from childhood. Also reminiscent of that childhood scene has been the vain attempt to break the impasse by appeal to a higher authority. Thus, the pro-choice forces hoped they had proved the pro-life forces “wrong” by having had the Supreme Court of the United States decide in Roe v. Wade that a fetus is not a person for purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment. Now the pro-life forces are trying to prove the pro-choice forces “wrong” by passing legislation or a Constitutional Amendment that declares a fetus to be a person after all! I believe that there is a better, more productive way to approach the abortion debate, and that is the way the law has historically approached the concept of person.