WHEN DOES A FETUS BECOME A WOMAN?

The headline to the RealClear Politics link to this AJC debate between Shaunti Feldhahn and Diane Glass is actually more interesting to me than the debate itself. Both make the standard arguments reasonably well. I side with Feldhahn’s reasoning but give Glass points for being better looking.

But I digress. Framing the question as in the debate itself, when a fetus becomes a person, is interesting but misses the nuance of the rephrased version: when it becomes a woman. This is critical, since, after all, the entire rationale for the abortion rights argument is the right of a woman to control her own body. Fair enough. So, at what point does that control inhere? At some point, the fetus is genetically female yet hasn’t even the basic right not to be killed. At some later point, the fetus has grown into a woman with all manner of rights, including the right to kill any fetus growing inside her. I’m wondering at what moment this transition takes place.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Kevin Drum says:

    The fetus is genetically female from the point of conception. (Or perhaps male, depending.) I think what you meant to say was that the fetus does not develop overt female physiological characteristics until some later period.

    When does the transition take place? The Supreme Court says, more or less, after the second trimester. Seems like a pretty sensible compromise to me.

  2. JohnW says:

    You miss the point, Kevin. Or perhaps like others you don’t wish to acknowledge it?