fetus as person

Richard Hall rhall at uvi.edu
Sat Feb 22 10:41:01 EST 1997


>On 22 Febr 97, Chris Hill wrote:
>
>> 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.
>

RLH replies:

The placenta is a feeding and excretory device derived from embryonic
trophoblastic tissue and as such the placenta is the critical link between
the fetus and maternal provisions.  Pregnancy comes to term just as the
placenta begins to atrophy, it is at this point that the fetus makes the
transition to neonate.  Usually the decidua (remnants of the failing
placenta) are sloughed from the uterus within hours following birth and
maternal healing begins.

Metaphorically, the placenta dies as the child is born.  Symbolically,
cutting the placental cord marks the birth of a human infant-separating the
dying vestiges of gestation from the living, breathing neonate.  The fetus
is dead, long live the human infant.

rlh

Richard Hall
Comparative Animal Physiologist
Division of Sciences and Mathematics
University of the Virgin Islands
St. Thomas, USVI  00802

809-693-1386
rhall at uvi.edu





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