Wesley Smith: Bill, do you think Terri is a person?
Bill Allen: No, I do not. I think having awareness is an essential criterion for personhood. Even minimal awareness would support some criterion of personhood, but I don’t think complete absence of awareness does.
Behaviorally speaking, there’s little difference between a newborn baby and a 32-week-old fetus. A new wave of research suggests that the fetus can feel, dream, even enjoy The Cat in the Hat.
As if overturning the common conception of infancy weren’t enough, scientists are creating a startling new picture of intelligent life in the womb. Among the revelations:
- By nine weeks, a developing fetus can hiccup and react to loud noises. By the end of the second trimester it can hear.
- Just as adults do, the fetus experiences the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep of dreams.
- The fetus savors its mother’s meals, first picking up the food tastes of a culture in the womb.
- Among other mental feats, the fetus can distinguish between the voice of Mom and that of a stranger, and respond to a familiar story read to it.
- Even a premature baby is aware, feels, responds, and adapts to its environment.