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Abortions and Rights of a Fetus in the US

The issue of the price of human life has always been topical. For years, people have been trying to determine what its price is and who has the right to manage it. Numerous philosophers devoted their works to this very issue. However, having solved this question, humanity, though, did not give clear definition to the concept of human life. On the one hand, it is obvious that any human being should be protected. On the other hand, the question whether a fetus can be taken as a human being appears. Although a fetus is a living being, it should only be provided with rights, particularly, the right to live, starting from the third trimester.

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The already mentioned question about the right of a fetus to be called a human being has become more topical in the age of abortions and humanism (Santrock, 2015). Nowadays, a great number of women all over the world decide to stop their pregnancy for various reasons. Development of medicine makes this procedure more secure and less complicated. However, an increase in the number of abortions leads to the appearance of the opponents of this issue. Different religious and activist organizations try to forbid this procedure calling it homicide as they take fetus as a human being. Their opponents do not agree with it, stating that a human being is determined by the ability to think and sense, and it is difficult to assume that a set of dividing cells can have it (Lazar, 2012). The idea that an embryo obtains some rights and can be taken as a human being only during the last month of its development is also popular. That is why, it is vital to analyze these assumptions in order to understand the issue better.

At present, few states accept the idea of fetal rights; therefore, according to the U.S. legislation, they are not very numerous. At the beginning of its development, a man is nothing more than a set of dividing cells which create the basis for the further development of a fetus. During the first month of its development an embryo could hardly be called a human being because there are even no signs of any organs as it just prepares ground for their formation (Life’s greatest miracle, n.d.). Thus, during the first month of the prenatal period, a fetus does not have any basic human rights. The same can be said about the second month of pregnancy; the only restriction applied to a pregnant woman at this point concerns the need to abstain from any drug-related substances.

Similarly, a fetus does not have any basic rights during the third month of a woman’ pregnancy. In fact, a woman has a full right to terminate her pregnancy during the first trimester (Santrock, 2015). However, it is still difficult to assume that this creature can have any rights. The situation does not change during the third month of pregnancy. A fetus still does not have any senses and could hardly be taken as a human being and given any rights. In the course of the second trimester, the fetus is still not recognized as a physical person and, therefore, is not provided with any basic rights in the fourth, fifth and sixth month of the pregnancy of their mother. At the fourth month or pregnancy, a fetus starts to respond to some irritants and show the germs of conscience. That is why, debates around the rights of a fetus usually starts from this very term.

In a great number of countries, it is forbidden to perform an abortion without some serious medical evidence at this period of its development. During the following month, a fetus becomes more and more humanlike. However, as far as the third trimester (i.e., the seventh, the eighth, and the ninth months of pregnancy) is concerned, the rights of a fetus as a living being are recognized in most states. To be more exact, a fetus is granted with the basic right to live, as well as to receive the corresponding medical treatment in the seventh month of its development. The fetus is provided with the same right in the eighth and ninth month of its development (lden, 2009).

With this in mind, it is possible to say that the possibility to feel introduces a great number of debates around the issue. Theoretically, from this period of time an embryo has more rights to be called a human being than it has had before. According to the latest research findings, development of organs of the sense is followed by the attempts of a fetus to respond to some stimulus in a certain way (Lazar, 2012). It could be taken as the evidence of the development of the nervous system of an embryo, which, in its turn, could show the presence of conscience. Thus, there are supporters of the idea that development of the senses does not mean the presence of conscience. Therefore, it cannot be taken as solid evidence of the existence of human beginning within a fetus. However, there are also people, who take this fact as the sign of the presence of conscience. All sides of this conflict have a great number of various arguments that lead to the appearance of pro-life debates.

These debates lead to the attempt to rethink the rights of an embryo at this stage of development. Taking into account the idea that it might have its own conscience and vision of the world, the problem becomes more complicated. Coherent society takes human life as the greatest value and, that is why, it becomes obvious that its murder should be strongly prohibited. Thus, under these conditions abortions can be taken as legalized homicide, which is inappropriate in a civilized society (Ireland, 2013). Nevertheless, this procedure can be rather useful and guaranty protection and security for women.

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Despite the fact that a fetus typically has the chances to develop into a human being, granting it with irrefutable rights such as the right to live at comparatively early stages of a woman’s pregnancy, such as the first trimester, does not seem legitimate. Indeed, a closer look at the development of a fetus at different stages of pregnancy shows that it develops basic senses rather late (particularly, in the third trimester, when a fetus acquires the ability to detect light and, therefore, see). In addition, a fetus can experience pain at a similarly late stage of is evolution, i.e., at the 28th week of the gestation process (Lazar, 2012). Therefore, it is only reasonable to assume that a fetus should be granted with the right to live since the start of the third trimester.


lden, B. (2009). Unborn & unprotected: the rights of the fetus under § 1983. UCLA Law Review, 57(2), 481-510. Web.

Ireland, E. (2013). Do not abort the mission: An analysis of the European Court of Human Rights Case of R.R. v. Poland. North Carolina Journal Of International Law & Commercial Regulation, 38(2), 651-695. Web.

Lazar, P. (2012). Considerations regarding the legal status of embryo and fetus from the perspective of the right to live. Contemporary Readings in Law & Social Justice, 4(1), 371-382. Web.

Life’s greatest miracle. (n.d.). Web.

Santrock, J. (2015). Life-span development. New York: McGraw Hill Education.

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