The Unborn Person

[January 25, 2017]

In the Roe v Wade decision, Justice Harry Blackmun wrote that, if the fetus is a person, the right to abortion collapses. (Roe v. Wade 410 U.S. 113 [1973] Section IX.)

How can we tell whether it is a person or not?

Here’s what science shows. From the beginning, the unborn is:

1. Alive. It is living and growing, always increasing in size and complexity.

2. Human. Its body is composed entirely of human cells.

3. Individual. It has unique DNA. If a cell from the mother, the father, and the unborn child were examined side by side, it would reveal that they came from three different people.

The case against abortion rests on scientific facts: the unborn is a unique, living human individual.

The case for abortion rests on personal opinion: adults who think the unborn is not a person, for whatever private reason, are legally allowed to kill them.

Justice Blackmun said that the right to abortion collapses if the fetus is a person. Yet, all these years after Roe, pro-choice people are still unable to prove that it is not. The abortion debate would end if they could prove it’s not a person, but they’re unable to do that.

Instead, they change the subject. When I used to do debates, long ago, I noticed that if I attacked abortion, my opponent would not defend abortion. Instead, she would attack me.

But even if pro-lifers were terrible people, it would not make the unborn child a non-person.

Even if a child is abused, it does not make her a non-person.

Even if a child is sick or disabled, it does not make her a non-person.

Even if a child is rejected and unwanted, it does not make her a non-person.

Even if a child is helpless and dependent on its mother, it does not make her a non-person.

The child in the womb is the same person she was as a single cell, a cell already marked with her unique DNA. She is the same person she will be as a newborn, a toddler, a teenager, a grandmother. A person’s life is a seamless continuum.

Pro-choice people are unable to disprove that. All they can do is change the subject.

About Frederica Mathewes-Green

Frederica Mathewes-Green is a wide-ranging author who has published 10 books and 800 essays, in such diverse publications as the Washington Post, Christianity Today, Smithsonian, and the Wall Street Journal. She has been a regular commentator for National Public Radio (NPR), a columnist for the Religion News Service,, and Christianity Today, and a podcaster for Ancient Faith Radio. (She was also a consultant for Veggie Tales.) She has published 10 books, and has appeared as a speaker over 600 times, at places like Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Wellesley, Cornell, Calvin, Baylor, and Westmont, and received a Doctor of Letters (honorary) from King University. She has been interviewed over 700 times, on venues like PrimeTime Live, the 700 Club, NPR, PBS, Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times. She lives with her husband, the Rev. Gregory Mathewes-Green, in Johnson City, TN. Their three children are grown and married, and they have fourteen grandchildren.

Christian ApologeticsGenderMarriage and FamilyPro-Life


  1. Thank you Frederica! I was so depressed after the womens marches over the weekend. In addition to the ignorance that still reigns over the truth regarding the complete human miracle that is the unborn person, I saw the events as degrading to women in almost every way. Women's bodies, children – born or unborn, are sacred. Life is sacred. Abortion on demand facilitates the mass sexual addiction that was unleashed in the 60s, which has morphed into an multiply tentacled life destroying monster since then. The addicted are angry and unconscious. At some point over the weekend, I was digging into your archives to read your writings on abortion, which offered some relief. It is good to see you address this topic this week; I was hoping you would. Thank you!

  2. The awe and wonder we should experience at pregnancy and birth is diverted and replaced by this jargon of 'my body-my rights..' thank you for being a voice for their silent rights.

  3. Frederica,
    Thank you for your always insightful and powerful words. As an adoptive parent, I revere and honor birth mothers who make the adoption choice instead of abortion. Birth mothers are TRUE feminists. For those of us unable to conceive, their brave gift of life makes us mothers and fills our empty arms. They deeply understand sacrificial love when they choose the adoption option. They can then move into their destiny knowing that they have transformed a couple's life by giving the gift of life. So many couples long to fill their empty arms. When adoption, rather than abortion, takes precedence, more infertile couples will realize their dreams.

  4. Frederica,
    I have not read your writings before but-as with the first comment-was heartened when I found them after being bombarded with the fallacious rant 'my body-my choice' all weekend. I have always believed life begins at conception. It's common sense and scientific fact. The abortion argument is one of convenience with its moving date of 'lifehood' and hinge pin of viability. The only argument against that fetus bring a human being with rights is that it is dependent on its mother's to live. If a person can be charged with murdering an unborn child, how can abortion be legal? The only reason there's a question of 'viability' is because the child is not wanted (at least not by its mother). If it can survive, without the mother's and doctor's interference, then it is viable. Jf it would live otherwise, then it should have the right to live.

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