Sorry, son, you're just not a person

Wednesday 28 June 2006 10:21 AM

How interesting to learn from James Guest (Opinion, 28/6) that "the vast majority of mankind for millenniums" (sic) have believed that human personhood begins at birth, rather than conception. But I suspect it would also come as news to the other vast majority of my acquaintance.

Of the hundreds of expectant parents I've met, virtually all have instinctively viewed their not-yet-born children as persons. It has long been recognised that a stillbirth or miscarriage is far more than a clinical mishap; it is the loss of a dearly loved family member, with many of the normal emotions associated with grief. It is therefore normal and highly desirable that the lost child be named and given a funeral. This would be a bizarre futility indeed if as Guest baldly asserts, the child was considerably less than "a full member of our community", a mere conglomeration of cells.

Take care, Mr Bracks. Therapeutic cloning - the latest quest to enhance the value of human life - may yet devalue it further. Then again, perhaps my problem is that I'm just not an "average pragmatic Australian" like Mr Guest.