In Mary Anne Warren’s “The Abortion Issue,” children are not persons in the empirical sense. Warren believes that prior to a certain point in a pregnancy, the child does not have “the capacity to understand” the ramifications of what an abortion would be, therefore the abortion does not infringe upon the rights of the unborn fetus. She states that: “…in the ways that matter from a moral point of view, human fetuses are very unlike human persons, particularly in their early months of development”(152). In essence, personhood as defined by Warren can only come after the first trimester. Before that time, the fetus does not have the sentience that would make it a person. Warren’s main criteria for what makes a person will be considered first, then we will move on to her argument on sentience, and the differences she notes between a fetus and an infant.
As she states in her paper, there are five main categories that empirically place something as a person. They include sentience, or conscious behavior, such as awareness of our surroundings, rationality: the ability to respond according to what affects us, self-concept: the ability to understand what we are, self-motivated behavior: the planning and carrying out of our own beliefs and thoughts beyond how we are externally affected, and linguistic capacity, or the use of a system to convey messages. Warren does not raise the answers to already obvious arguments when considering these ...
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