Embryo should not be considered “human subject”

Benjamin Kadlec appears to confuse “human life” with “personhood” in his letter to the editor (“Pro-science, anti-abortion,” Nov. 8), a mistake that is easy to make, given the current and prevalent abortion debate.

A fetus within a woman’s womb is undeniably and scientifically human and alive; that is not the question up for debate. The question is a matter of rights, namely whether the rights of a person (the woman) trump those of a potential person (the embryo or fetus).

When President George W. Bush advocated for embryos to be deemed “human subjects,” he was purposely granting them personhood, a technicality of wording that could be used in the future to deny women the right to terminate their pregnancies.

The word “subject,” in conjunction with the word “human,” implies a separate entity deserving of and having the full rights of personhood – something an embryo does not and should not have.

An embryo within a woman’s womb is not a separate entity, but is fully dependent on her body to sustain its life. When two beings occupy the same space, both cannot have equal rights. One’s rights must trump the other’s. In this case, the rights of the person trump any that the potential person may have.

The rights of human persons are determined by society and the law, and in this society (which creates the law), personhood is granted to those that have been born. If Kadlec advocates accurate scientific terminology, then more scientifically correct terms such as “human tissue” or “human DNA” ought to be used.

“Subject” is merely crafty legal wording that Bush, motivated by his personal religious beliefs and campaign supporters, is pushing through to further erode a woman’s right to choose. He is forcing his religious morals on all of society – one that appears (based on public outrage over this announcement) to disagree with him.

Using religious beliefs to take away rights is not acceptable, whether it is done covertly with the false concern of scientific accuracy or whether it is done openly and explicitly.

Bree Dalager, University Choice Coalition