Who Confers Personhood? The Pro-Life Vs. Pro-Choice Positions

What is a person? What would love say? In 1973, the state of Texas argued that an unborn child is a person who is given the right to life under the 14th Amendment. In the Roe v. Wade decision, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun determined that an unborn child is not a person and is therefore not protected under the 14th Amendment. The Court further ruled that a person can choose to have an abortion up until the fetus become viable (and can live outside of the womb) based on the right to privacy. In 2022, the Supreme Court ruled against Roe v. Wade and returned the power to decide on abortions over to the states. Some have more stringent laws on abortions, while others have no restrictions.

Many of these decisions are based on the question of personhood. Google’s dictionary defines a person as a human being who’s regarded as an individual, but this definition suggests personhood is conferred by someone other than the particular human being in question. Can an old person lose personhood because she develops dementia and others no longer consider her a person?

People who advocate for the right to kill an unborn child have suggested that personhood is (magically) conferred at some arbitrary point in the womb or even once outside of the womb! The view that others can determine when we are persons is dangerous as it dehumanizes the most innocent human beings among us.

According to one study, 95 percent of biologists have agreed that human life begins at conception/fertilization,[1] so I would argue that personhood begins at conception. A human being is a person who has intrinsic value, which God has conferred prior to our formation in the womb (c.f., Jeremiah 1:5). We are God’s image bearers (Genesis 1:27) worthy of love, life, and liberty. Choose love.   


[1] Jacobs, S.A. (2018). Biologists’ consensus on ‘when life begins.’ https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3211703

2 Replies to “Who Confers Personhood? The Pro-Life Vs. Pro-Choice Positions”

  1. I agree with you. The main issue though, is what God says in his word. God made humanity in his image, God is the giver of life, therefore humanity does not have the right to end a growing human life. For people who reject God though, they couldn’t care less about the unborn, only their convenience matters to them.

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