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fetus as person

Chris Hill chris at fido.bfriars.ox.ac.uk
Sat Feb 22 07:15:31 EST 1997

I wrote:

> It seems to me that a mistake is being made here rooted in the early
> differentiation of trophoblastic tissue and embryoblastic tissue.  This
> early differentiation is necessary for the correct functioning of the
> extraembryonic membranes, placenta and umbilical cord.  It would in my
> view be more correct to view these early differentiated structures as
> parts of the developing human entity which are shed at the appropriate
> time during development when there function is completed and they are no
> longer needed. The loss of these structures has no more ontological
> significance than the loss of milk teeth to make way for their adult
> successors.
> The legal definitions of personhood as beginning at the cutting of the
> umbilical cord are based on the different, but equally false arguument
> that it is the cord that connects the child to its mother and that the
> cord is not part of the child but rather part of the mother or part of
> neither in some sense.  As has been noted, histologically and
> genetically the cord and placenta are part of the child and not the
> mother.
> Chris Hill.

In fact the assumption on which the above mentioned legal definitions of
personhood are based goes further than the cord being part of the
mother, it is assumed that the whole child is part of the mother until
separated by cutting the cord.  Obviously not the case.


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