Fetus or Woman? Whose Right Is It Anyway?

[This statement appeared in the Daytona Beach NewsJournal on February 9, 2010.]


Cal Thomas’ editorial may be a bit simplistic in its assertion that granting personhood to a fetus will solve the abortion debate. Actually, he may have gone one tacit metaphoric step further. He ends with referring to “personhood of babies in the womb.” But he is wrong: It’s not a person in a womb; it’s a person in a woman, whose personhood must also be acknowledged lest we reify her as a mere womb function.

Where persons experience clashes of will, someone must help decide the issue. If the woman decides that she does not wish her body to be used by another person, we must listen to her; and if a person wishes to live, we must listen to him/her also. So, we clearly must come down on either the side of the fetus or the side of the woman, a compromise being impossible where one person is incapable of living on his/her own. The personhood of the fetus has decisive relevance only where the personhood of the woman is denied in favor of a purely functional womb without any other rights. If Thomas is asking for human dignity and personhood, he is clearly disastrously inconsistent if he does not also permit the personhood of the woman to play a role in his reflections.

 Undue simplification of difficult and complex problems is irresponsible. I suggest that Thomas’ editorial is irresponsible in pandering to the common uncritical and unreflective mind-set of the public. He should clearly acknowledge two beings with full personhood and tackle that ensuing problem honestly.