In this paper, I will investigate the right to life for an embryo based on Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan’s article “Abortion: Is it Possible to be both “Pro-life” and “Pro-Choice”?” My conclusion is that an embryo is a potential person then it has the right to life. Sagan and Druyan argue that an embryo does not have human characteristics, thus it is acceptable to abort it. I will show that an embryo is a potential person thus it has the right to life.
Is an embryo a person? If the “person” means, in biology, is a member of Homo sapiens, then after 14 days when primitive streak or after 16 days when gastrulation (Damschen, Gómez-Lobo and Schönecker), an embryo is a person without doubt, because ...view middle of the document...
So far I want to convince that someone who has personhood may not be a Homo sapiens, it could be another species, or even beyond the existence. Some members in Homo sapiens, by the biological definition, is not necessarily a person. Hydatidiform mole, anencephalic, Siamese twins, even fetus-in-fetu, or some fetuses develop to a certain stage and discontinue, and even some patient presented in brain-dead state(unlike vegetative), these are all the members in Homo sapiens, all of them can be formed biologically as Homo sapiens, but they would not be considered as a person.
Notably, even in today’s general understanding, avoid using substance or essence of rationality to talk about the person, but rather with the way the matter has rational function to determine whether it has the personhood. However the concept of personhood, in fact, is inseparable from the meaning of some kind of metaphysical entity. It is more obvious when discussing about personal identity problem, that personhood at different points in time all have the identity, the same person cannot have more than one identity with two different individuals.
Finally, and perhaps most crucially, “what is a potential person” or “who has the potential to develop into a person”. A potential person is a vague and ambiguous semantic expression, it could mean “someone is a potential person, if and only if he/she is already a person right now, and has some causal possibility to manifest his/her qualities as a person in the future”. The biggest issue in this argument is that it treats an embryo directly as a person, like unreasonably treating chicken eggs as chicken. It considers every generation changes are changes of phenomenon, and do not involve changing the entity.
Based on the conceptual analysis of potential, it is nature rather than physical, it must be attached to a certain entity. Which means the potential is the potential of something. Thus, when we are talking about “an embryo is a potential person”, it implies an argument “an embryo is a person”.
But this argument is actually wrong...