If Embryos and Fetuses Have Rights

Law & Ethics of Human Rights, Vol. 11, No, 2, 2017, pp.189-224

UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2018-27

53 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2018 Last revised: 30 Apr 2018

Michele Goodwin

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Date Written: April 16, 2018

Abstract

What exactly does it mean to be human or for that matter a “nonhuman”? This essay unpacks questions regarding the personhood of embryos and fetuses. It takes as its lead the escalating political demand for embryos to attain rights and the status of children. The essay argues that such political demands are not in isolation physically, medically, or legally of women’s health and rights. It makes the case that embryos and fetuses cannot be granted rights without impermissibly implicating pregnant women. Thus, the essay argues against the extension of criminal and tort law to punish pregnant women under fetal protection laws by drawing an analogy to the duty to rescue jurisprudence.

Keywords: non-human, personhood, embryo, fetuses, pregnant women, granted rights, duty to rescue

Suggested Citation

Goodwin, Michele, If Embryos and Fetuses Have Rights (April 16, 2018). Law & Ethics of Human Rights, Vol. 11, No, 2, 2017, pp.189-224; UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2018-27. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3163829

Michele Goodwin (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

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