Concerning abortion, the issue at hand is whether or not the rights of the fetus can be held above those of the mother. A fetus does not fit the definition of a person. A fetus is not a person with the same rights as the woman who is carrying it. It is for this reason that abortion is an acceptable choice for any reason, whether or not the mother’s life is at stake.
Some anti-abortionists claim that an embryo is a person who should be granted the same legal status as the mother. However, the idea that a fetus is a human being is flawed. The concept of person-hood is very complex, but a sound, rational idea of person-hood necessitates consciousness. According to Clive Wynne in a Psychology Today article (“Do Animals Think”), a sound psychological definition of consciousness involves three criteria: “language, self-awareness, and theory of mind.'” In order to be considered a person, a being must either have the capacity for language, have an awareness of self as separate from others and its surroundings, or be aware that others have minds separate from its own. Some argue against definitions like this for deciding what is human by pointing out that comatose patients do not fit the definition. However, a coma is no ones natural state of being. A coma occurs because something happened to a person. Something is wrong when a person is in a coma and the problem should be fixed if possible. This is not the case with a fetus. Part of being a fetus is the lack of consciousness. No one ever looks at an ultrasound and thinks that what they see was once able to communicate and walk and experience the world around them. But this happens when people look at a comatose patient. A comatose patient has lost their consciousness, but a fetus never had a consciousness. A fetus more closely resembles the definition of a parasite than a human.
An embryo or fetus at best can be considered a potential person. Some argue that because a fetus is potentially a person it has the right to life. However, the potential is not the same as the actual. No one looks at an acorn and mistakes it for a big oak tree. Given time and the proper environment an acorn can become an oak tree. Given time and a healthy environment a fetus can become a human, but only if it is the woman’s choice can what is growing inside of her become an actual person. Just because a fetus is almost a human being does not mean it should be granted all the rights of a human being. Only when it is actually a human being can it be granted the rights of a human being. This happens when the mother decides to carry the fetus to term. Before this the potential person has no rights. The mother is the one with all the rights and the mother has the right to decide what happens to the fetus.
A fetus does not have rights that anti-abortionists claim outweigh the woman’s right to her body. A fetus is not a person with rights that trump the mother’s rights. A fetus is not an individual entity as the mother is and it can not be considered to have the same rights as the mother. The fetus is not a human being and, therefore, does not have the rights of a human being. Even as a potential human being a fetus has no rights. The mother, as an individual entity, has the rights. A fetus does not have the right to life, but a woman still has the right to her own body.