Some claim that the unborn is just a part of the mother’s body, like her tonsils or appendix. For example, philosopher Mortimer Adler claims the following:
[The unborn is] a part of the mother’s body, in the same sense that an individual’s arm or leg is a part of a living organism. An individual’s decision to have an arm or leg amputated falls within the sphere of privacy —the freedom to do as one please in all matters that do not injure others or the public welfare.”Mortimer J. Adler, Haves Without Have-Notes: Essays for the 21st Century on Democracy and Socialism (New York: Macmillan, 1991), 210.
Note: This page heavily utilizes Randy Alcorn’s terrific book, Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Questions .
One answer: It is possible for the mother to die and the child to live, and vice versa, which means they are two distinct individuals.
If the unborn is merely a part of the mother’s body, then the death of the mother should result in the death of the unborn. However, this is not the case. There have been situations where the mother has died, yet a doctor was able to deliver the baby afterwards:
- Baby delivered after mother fatally shot has died
- Baby delivered by paramedics after pregnant mother dies in crossbow attack
Furthermore, it is possible for a child to be born several months after the mother has been declared “brain dead.” 1
That the unborn can survive while the mother dies demonstrates that the unborn baby is a distinct person from the mother.
- “Brain Dead Woman Gives Birth,” Oregonian , 31 July 1987. [↩]