Alive and developing

During summer, many miles away from Toronto, a mother was giving birth to her child. After some minutes he passed away. Why? Well, because he was a 19-week child and, at the same time –although our culture doesn’t consider children to be human persons until the full-term of pregnancy– he was the little human brother of a couple girls. It calls my attention that a 19-week child inside the womb wouldn’t be considered as such, while a 19-week child outside the womb, still highly dependent, is considered a living child –for some minutes. Happily, this small and delicate person spent his last moment in the arms of his mother.

If there’s any error, it would be calling this 19-week baby outside the womb a non-living boy just as it would be an error naming him inside the womb as no-person.  But many prefer other names even related to the problem of dependency. “He is not quite yet a person”, some would argue. But, if this is the case, this non-person-yet or undeveloped person, should ask us when will we see the standard model of a fully developed person? A teenager developing his or her personhood isn’t deprived from the right to life. A father, with a toddler who might be considered less developed, would never think his child has no right to life. So why shouldn’t a 19-week child inside the womb be a person with right to life?

If this model of a fully developed person is ever found, I am afraid many would stop being considered developed persons with the resulting right to life. Thus, nobody says the teenager mentioned above is nothing but an undeveloped person, or a developing person. Let’s just call him or her as it should be: a person, who is naturally characterized for being constantly developing.

But, when did this happen? No magic wand was in the doctor’s hand when we were called persons for the first time. To leave this to mere human consensus would be likewise. And this is the case of attributing personhood only in the moment one leaves his or her mother’s womb. We have to discard such criterion.

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