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When does a fetus become a person?

Kevin Spencer kspencer at s.psych.uiuc.edu
Tue Feb 18 14:50:44 EST 1997

Daniel Pouzzner <douzzer.mit.edu> writes:

>Neurobiologically, a fetus becomes a person at about 9 months
>post-natal, or 18 months after conception.  This is because the need
>for the woman to be capable of efficient locomotion precludes
>enlargement of the cervix to a large enough diameter to permit
>complete maturation of the child's brain in the uterus; among
>placental mammals this species-wide premature birth situation is
>unique, I believe.

This is not correct.  Neurobiologically, the human brain doesn't
finish maturation until the late teens.  Frontal cortex is the last
part of the brain to "mature".  And as others have pointed out in
this thread, humans are certainly not the only animals whose offspring
are not "mature" at birth.

Kevin Spencer
Cognitive Psychophysiology Laboratory and Beckman Institute
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
kspencer at p300.cpl.uiuc.edu

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