If Embryos and Fetuses Have Rights
Law & Ethics of Human Rights, Vol. 11, No, 2, 2017, pp.189-224
53 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2018 Last revised: 30 Apr 2018
Date Written: April 16, 2018
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
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