being a person is not the same as being human
Moral status Even within a single society, defining “being a person” can be complex and controversial. The being of the person is a major concern in bioethics, wrote philosopher Nancy Zeker of the University of Washington. In that context, being a “person” is not the same as being “human” – and it’s not an easy concept. “When philosophers talk about ‘being a person,’ they are referring to something or someone with an exceptionally high moral status, often regarded as having a right to life, an inherent dignity, or meaning unto itself. described as possessing,” he explained. Personhood means that someone or something can make strong moral claims, such as a claim against interference. In the abortion debate, Zecker said, “No one disputes the species of the fetus, but many disagree about whether the fetus is a person.” Americans hold three main views of when a person begins—at conception, at birth, or in between—which is a central part of the country’s inability to agree on abortion rules. But the implications of how society defines individualism go much further, Zecker said, affecting areas such as caring for the environment and ending life in this way.
Abortion also has its sides
Breaking down bioethics Given Americans’ diverse views on religion and personhood, are there other concepts that might help build consensus? In another article, Jaecker describes the four key terms of bioethics, the four foundational principles in this field: autonomy; non-harmfulness, or “do no harm”; providing benevolence, or beneficial care; and justice. People disagree about how to interpret those principles: someone in favor of abortion rights, for example, might be most concerned about harm to pregnant women, while someone who opposes it might be most concerned about harm to the fetus. May be more concerned about the loss. However, understanding how people view those principles is at least one creative step. Zecker suggested that, in the absence of reaching an ethical consensus, “expressing one’s own ethical views and understanding others’ may bring all parties closer to a principled agreement.”
Right to health care more than the owner of the body
As an issue of confidentiality, that’s a decision women must make for themselves with their doctors. But “my body, my choices” doesn’t fully reflect the dominant idea, argued Elizabeth Lanphear, a moral philosopher and bioethicist at the University of Cincinnati. Reproductive rights are not just about lack of interference, what philosophers call “negative liberty”. Abortion is also about the right to access health care.” ‘My Body, My Choice’ shows that people own their bodies, they control them,” she wrote. But the “positive liberty” of self-mastery, is of no value without the freedom to do something. “My research shows that ‘my body, my choice’ was an important idea at the time of the Roe to emphasize ownership over physical and health care decisions,” Lanphear concluded. “But I believe the debate has moved on since then – reproductive justice is about much more than owning your body and your choices; it’s about the right to health care.”
(Molly Jackson, religion and ethics editor, The Conversation)