Are Embryos People?

sperm and egg
The debate of “personhood” is on.
Image: Shutterstock

The fight for “personhood” is heating up.  If you have never heard of it, you had better listen up now.  Some people are trying to declare that embryos are people with legal rights.  It goes to the heart of the abortion debate.  If embryos are declared people, then it would most likely become illegal to perform or receive an abortion; it would likely be declared murder.

This year, 13 states introduced bills or ballot initiatives that would legally declare embryos people.  The effort for personhood is really galvanizing and taking shape.  Keith Mason is the president of the nonprofit group Personhood USA.  He wants to change state laws to say that life begins when egg meets sperm.

However, the pro-choice camp is fighting back.  “Why are right wingers so emotionally invested with the private sex lives of other people? Mind your own business, wingers. Seriously. Get a life, your own life. Don’t believe in abortion? Too bad, you don’t get to force your beliefs on others,” said a commenter called CoyoteSmiles on The Daily Beast.

Jamie Schofield commented back, “We’re not. We’re emotionally invested in trying to stop people from MURDERING BABIES … The issue is whether an unborn child is a person … The issue of abortion has NOTHING to do with controlling anyone’s bodies or taking way people’s reproductive choice.”

Recently, President Barack Obama weighed in on the issue.  Speaking at a Planned Parenthood conference in April, he referred to personhood as “absurd” and an “assault on women’s rights.”

Mason responded by saying, “Obviously we’re touching a nerve.  He understands that we’re a threat.”

Here are the closing arguments:

Pro-choice: “Giving full constitutional rights to a fertilized egg would invite the government into every aspect of reproduction,” said Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  It would not only ban all abortions, but also infertility treatments that result in the destruction of embryos (like IVF).

Pro-life: “Most birth control would not be affected,” said Mason.  “Infertility treatments wouldn’t be banned but modified to be respectful of life and ensure that embryos aren’t discarded…Life begins when egg meets sperm, the moment your hair, eye color, and height are determined.”

Are embryos people? You decide.


2 thoughts on “Are Embryos People?”

  1. Well if fertilised eggs are people, then I guess the state can then intervene in a woman’s pregnancy to make sure she’s not ‘abusing’ or neglecting the person. Maybe she can be charged with murder or manslaughter if she has an accident and the person dies. The possible ways to control a woman and her body are endless.

  2. Personally, I’ll start giving the pro-life camp my serious attention as soon as they become pro-life across the lifespan. It seems like most pro-life people will do anything to save a fetus. But once it’s born? Sorry, kid, you’re on your own. For a group that collectively ignores children and the elderly, I don’t think they have much authority on the subject of cherishing life. Furthermore, I don’t see them running out en mass to adopt any unwanted babies. So kudos to them, I’m sooo glad they care about a cluster of gooey cells more than actual, living people.

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