of this lesson students will understand that the embryo or fetus is a human person.
They may be able to discuss past instances in which people were denied personhood.
They may be able to discuss how a choice of vocabulary determines our view of
The instructor begins in one of three ways:
brief discussion may ensue: have students explain Horton's refrain "A person's
a person, no matter how small."
The instructor distributes handout "A Person's A Person, No Matter How Small." (http://catholiceducation.org/articles/lesson_plans/lp0007.html). Go over it with the class. Allow discussion of the arguments for the personhood of the fetus.
Choose any of the following:
Additional Background Reading:
The handout was adapted from Peter Kreeft's "Human Personhood Begins at Conception", Catholic Education Resource Center (http://catholiceducation.org/articles/abortion/ab0004.html).
Philosopher Peter Kreeft presents the arguments commonly used to explain why the unborn child is not a human person and then shows cleary and simply why each of these arguments cannot possibly be true. The personhood of the fetus is the crucial issue for abortion, for if the fetus is not a person, abortion is not the deliberate killing of an innocent person: if it is, it is. All other aspects of the abortion controversy are relative to this one. Kreeft is quick to point out, however, that if we do not see the awfulness of abortion, it is not because the facts and arguments are unclear, it is because our own consciences are unclear.
Dianne N. Irving "When Do Human Beings Begin? "Scientific" Myths and Scientific Facts." Catholic Education Resource Center. (http://catholiceducation.org/articles/abortion/ab0027.html).
Current discussions on abortion, human embryo research (including cloning, stem cell research, and the formation of mixed-species chimeras), and the use of abortifacients involve specific claims as to when the life of every human being begins. If the "science" used to ground these various discussions is incorrect, then any conclusions will be rendered groundless and invalid. The purpose of this article is to focus primarily on a sampling of the "scientific" myths, and on the objective scientific facts that ought to ground these discussions. Getting a handle on just a few basic human embryological terms accurately can considerably clarify the drastic difference between the "scientific" myths that are currently circulating, and the actual objective scientific facts.
Jon E. Dougherty "Life begins at Conception." Catholic Education Resource Center (http://catholiceducation.org/articles/abortion/ab0046.html).
It is simply a matter of choice that millions of Americans have decided to believe that life only begins when they say it does – at the moment of birth, or in the second trimester of pregnancy, or some other arbitrary guideline. It begins when it begins – at the moment a human being is biologically "under construction."
"Is the Fetus a Person?" was written by Andrew McCracken, a teacher-librarian at Notre Dame Regional Secondary School, Vancouver, British Columbia.
This lesson plan may be reproduced and distributed by any means as long as credit is given to the original author and to the Catholic Education Resource Center.
© 2001 The Catholic
Education Resource Center