Why do I talk about personhood? Personhood has come to be part of the discussion of organ donation, abortion, and euthanasia. Why?
A basic definition of personhood is the state of being a person. This is important because we place special value, along with moral and legal rights and responsibilities, upon persons. So, when we want to attribute rights and responsibilities to certain people, or we want to take rights and responsibilities away from certain people, we can, in our arguments, attempt to show it is right to do so by attributing, or by not attributing, personhood to them.… Read the rest
Recently reviewing an essay on Organ Donation which I wrote in 1998, I came across some thoughts on the definition personhood. How a “person” is defined plays a vital role in how we approach things like vital organ donation and assisted death. Our society is rapidly moving to a definition of personhood that connects a person’s intrinsic value to their ability to think. Those with less ability to think are considered to have less value and are more easily deemed expendable.… Read the rest
Recently I attended a medical lecture on prenatal diagnostic testing. I was left with the question, “In the provision of this testing, what are we saying about the value of those disabled from birth?
Prenatal diagnostic testing is testing offered to pregnant moms to attempt to determine if their baby may have a condition like Down Syndrome or various other conditions resulting from chromosome and other genetic abnormalities. Earlier and earlier ways to identify these conditions in a pregnancy are looked for, since the primary purpose for this testing is to offer abortion of babies considered “defective” while it is still “safe” to do so.… Read the rest
In the posting titled Personhood – Which Comes First Death of the Body or Departure of the Soul/ I grappled with the question of the mind. Science can show that activities of the mind and physical activities in the brain are connected but science does not prove that the mind is simply a function of physical brain activity. Clearly, for others to know that thoughts are occurring in a person’s mind the person must have a functioning brain to express the thoughts through.… Read the rest