What is Personhood?

What does it mean to be a person?


Put simply, a “person” is a human being who is fully protected under the law; and we use the legal term “personhood” to describe this condition. Once a human being is declared a person that individual is guaranteed certain legal rights, such as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In other words, to be a person is to be protected by a series of God-given and constitutionally protected rights.

When does life begin?

To better understand personhood, we begin by asking the fundamental question of when human life begins. The answer to this question is not a matter of opinion or religions belief. It is a biological matter, and embryological science has made crystal clear that human life begins at fertilization: the union of an egg and sperm resulting in a unique, genetically distinct human being.

Should the embryonic human being be a person?

The follow-up question is: “Is this tiny embryonic human being a ‘person’ who is guaranteed the right to life?” Should human beings from the moment of conception be protected in law as persons; as citizens upon whom full constitutional protections should confer? The answer to the question of personhood is a political/legal one. Once a preborn baby is declared to be a legal person, there simply can be no exceptions to his or her inalienable right to life; just as there are no exceptions to our right to life.