The Instigator
Pro (for)
9 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
4 Points

Is a Fetus a Person when in the Womb?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/2/2014 Category: Health
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 727 times Debate No: 59870
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (12)
Votes (2)




Yes, a Fetus in the Womb is indeed a person. It is scientifically shown that it is, this includes medically. I am making my opening remark short so I may give my opponent a chance to clarify their view. I want this to be clean, no name calling or any of that- it's counter productive. I would also like to ask that my opponent cite their sources of their argument. Looking forward to it!

Nick C.


Go ahead pro.
Debate Round No. 1


I will start with the 7 characteristics of Life as defined at New Mexico Tech. This will shed light as to what science says in regards to the fetus being a human being,

1. Living Things are Composed of Cells:
Single-cell organisms have everything they need to be self-sufficient.
In multicellular organisms, specialization increases until some cells do only certain things.

2. Living Things Have Different Levels of Organization:
Both molecular and cellular organization.
Living things must be able to organize simple substances into complex ones.
Living things organize cells at several levels:

Tissue - a group of cells that perform a common function.
Organ - a group of tissues that perform a common function.
Organ system - a group of organs that perform a common function.
Organism - any complete living thing.

3. Living Things Use Energy:
Living things take in energy and use it for maintenance and growth.

Living things will make changes in response to a stimulus in their environment.
A behavior is a complex set of responses.

5. Living Things Grow:
Cell division - the orderly formation of new cells.
Cell enlargement - the increase in size of a cell. Cells grow to a certain size and then divide.
An organism gets larger as the number of its cells increases.

6. Living Things Reproduce:
Reproduction is not essential for the survival of individual organisms, but must occur for a species to survive.
All living things reproduce in one of the following ways:
Asexual repoduction - Producing offspring without the use of gametes.
Sexual reproduction - Producing offspring by the joining of sex cells.

7. Living Things Adapt To Their Environment:
Adaptations are traits giving an organism an advantage in a certain environment.
Variation of individuals is important for a healthy species.


All of this criteria is met by a fetus well before birth. While a zygote is a single celled organism early on, it becomes an embryo through asexual reproduction. As stated, the embryo then is a multicellular organism.. It can reproduce, take in energy and use it, it, and during the first trimester it has already formed organs such as a brain by week 6 and blood vessels by week 10 the fetal heartbeat can be detected using a Heart monitor. (

Meanwhile medical professionals agree that life begins at conception-

Dr. Jerome LeJeune, professor of genetics at the University of Descartes in Paris, was the discoverer of the chromosome pattern of Down syndrome. Dr. LeJeune testified to the Judiciary Subcommittee, "after fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being." He stated that this "is no longer a matter of taste or opinion," and "not a metaphysical contention, it is plain experimental evidence." He added, "Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception."

Dr. Watson A. Bowes, University of Colorado Medical School: "The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter"the beginning is conception. This straightforward biological fact should not be distorted to serve sociological, political, or economic goals."

Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth, Harvard University Medical School: "It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive". It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception". Our laws, one function of which is to help preserve the lives of our people, should be based on accurate scientific data."


It is clear science and medicine define a fetus, whether zygote or embryo, as a human being. It is straightforward. Your turn Con.


My opponent has successfully shown that a fetus is a living thing. However that does not make it a person. Would you call the HIV virus a person? What about algae? What about carrots?

To be a person you need to at least be sentient. That requires a brain. You need to belong to an intelligent species. You need a personality.

A fetus in the early stages is a collection of cells that expands to a small tissue mass? How can mere cells and tissue be a person?
Debate Round No. 2


The question was in regards to if the fetus is a human being/living thing. The question of personhood lies in the legal aspects of this argument. I offer the following, 2 points....

medically, a person is considered deceased once the heart has stopped. As stated earlier, the fetus has a beating heart. There are a few points which are to be made on this. It's-
SLED is the acronym which describes the reality of personhood and is defined as
Size, if you are bigger than me in height or weight does that make you any. Ore of a person, or me any less of a person?
Level of Awareness, while the baby is aware at certain stages, it often early on is not so aware. However, the fact it does or does not know what is around it is irrelevant, while the other bodily organs and functions are already developed it is closer to being asleep than deceased. On the same. Item if I am asleep and you are awake is it ok for you to kill me? I would hope not.
Environment, 8 inches down the birth canal doesn't allow the baby to pass through some magic portal to change it I to being aware. That's like me saying if I got through a metal detector at the airport I'm a different person than before I stepped through it.
Degree of Dependency, the baby in the womb depends on it's mother for food and shelter etc. As does everyone at some point. Employees depend on their boss to give them a. Pay check, and infants depend on their parents to provide. Dependency is also irrelevant.

In the end, the question of being a living organism is settled (as you stated) then it becomes about the legality of personhood. with that I raise this final point of this round, Before Civil Rigths, the African Americans were not considered legally recognized and protected people. This too was perfectly legal in the United States.....legality does not necessarily mean right. Your go con


distraff forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by distraff 2 years ago
I posted the last round of this debate here. My opponent can have points for conduct. Thanks to my opponent for letting my post the last round in the comments section. If he wants to post a final rebuttal, I would be totally in favor of that.
Posted by distraff 2 years ago
> "medically, a person is considered deceased once the heart has stopped. As stated earlier, the fetus has a beating heart. "

Correct. We agree that a fetus is not dead. However, since you claim that fetuses are people, and very early-term fetuses are still fetuses, then you are claiming that very early-term fetuses are people.

Very early term fetuses do not even have beating hearts so if anything the heart argument actually works in my favor. Even for the ones that do, many mammals have beating hearts but are not considered people in the eyes of the law. The heart is just an organ and alone cannot make something a person. That thing must have a combination of characteristics.

> "Size, if you are bigger than me in height or weight does that make you any."

Size does not determine personhood in my opinion.
Posted by distraff 2 years ago
> "Level of Awareness, while the baby is aware at certain stages, it often early on is not so aware."

Newborn infants have a very low level of awareness although they do have some, have emotions, physical sensations, sight, and functional brains. Fetuses in the earliest stages do not have brains at all, and so they lack the ability to think, see, feel, and have as much awareness as a rock.

They simply lack the organs necessary to be aware. When it is a cell, all it is is a collection of DNA, protein, and other cellular tissue, that all interact according to chemical processes. It is just a molecular machine. How can such a thing be a person? The same argument applies when the fetus is a piece of tissue (a large collection of cells).

Even when they begin developing brains, they are so primitive as to render them as sentient as insects.

> "while the other bodily organs and functions are already developed it is closer to being asleep than deceased."

A sleeping person has a fully function brain with emotions, sensation, thoughts, and awareness while sleeping. Awareness is reduced for a few hours. This does not compare to the fetuses with rudimentary brains that are little more than a large nervous system structure, or the fetuses with no brains at all.

In conclusion while I believe that fetuses right before birth are definitely people, very early term ones are definitely not people so the resolution is incorrect.
Posted by distraff 2 years ago
Testing bold for debate:
<b>Bold statement</b>
Posted by Ngrovcam 2 years ago
Not a problem sir, please post your final point if you see fit would like to read it rather than be left open ended
Posted by distraff 2 years ago
Sorry about forfeiting the last round. I miscalculated the time for the debate. I thought the voting period was going to end at 9:00 AM for some reason.
Posted by ZenoCitium 2 years ago
Definitely one of my favorite Sci-Fi movies of all time. I recommend that you read at least the first few books in the series by Arthur C. Clark. I love how Stanley Kubrick used music to narrate the film.
Posted by distraff 2 years ago
My opponent didn't give any real arguments and only summarized what he was going to argue for and claimed without sources that he had scientific support. I did not going to present any arguments in the first round because he didn't.
Posted by distraff 2 years ago
Just watched 2001 the space odessey and Hal is so cool. However, I don't know if everyone will understand the reference. They might think my avatar is a red button.
Posted by ZenoCitium 2 years ago
I have only one request for distraff.

"Open the pod bay doors, HAL"
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Robert_Weiler 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:34 
Reasons for voting decision: PRO consistently argued the humanity of the fetus, rather than the personhood, which was the resolution, argument points to CON. Conduct points to PRO for CON's forfeit. PRO's grammar was lacking in several areas, mainly in capitalization. Only PRO used sources, and those points are awarded accordingly.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Much as we are in disagreement on this issue, Pro handily wins this debate. His arguments, while lacking in some respects, are far more detailed, better warranted and evidenced, and generally better explained than Con's. Con may present some intriguing assertions, but without support, he cannot hope to win this debate, and the forfeit in the final round seals the deal.