Abortion: Is the Fetus Human?

6 Pages Posted: 1 Jan 2018

Date Written: January 1, 2018


This paper addresses the question of whether the fetus is human and its effect on the abortion debate. It investigates the concept of “human” and asks whether the concept of human has an essence or is best understood by the idea of family resemblance. It asks whether DNA is the essence of humanity and concludes that it is not and that humanity is best understood using family resemblance involving a range of attributes common to humans. It concludes the fetus does not have the range of attributes that would make it human.

Keywords: abortion, fetus, foetus, human, DNA, Wittgenstein, family resemblance, essence, status of fetus, status of foetus

JEL Classification: I

Suggested Citation

Forrester, Rochelle, Abortion: Is the Fetus Human? (January 1, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3095203 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3095203

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