General Question

wabbit's avatar

If a human fertilized egg/fetus had the same legal rights as a person, should employing a pregnant woman be illegal?

Asked by wabbit (40points) August 20th, 2012

In the US, it’s legal for young children to work for their parents unless the work is hazardous to them. It’s illegal to force a person of any age to work. It’s illegal to discriminate against pregnant women for the purpose of protecting fetuses. However, if a fertilized egg/fetus is deemed to be a person with legal rights, should it be illegal for a pregnant woman to work either because it is deemed hazardous or constitutes forced labor? What if the pregnant women is a single working mother of an existing child? Should the US Congress be required to address related laws if it seeks to overturn current law regarding abortion? (Please Note: This question isn’t about whether abortion itself is the “right” or “wrong” thing to do. Instead, it’s about how a country that governs itself based on a system of laws balances the rights and protection of all it’s citizens.)

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12 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

I think the people who would grant an embryo legal status would probably agree with you. They don’t like women, much less pregnant women, working.

You can also say the embryo is entitled to complete medical coverage, including full maintenance of the “host” (the mother). I doubt that would fly with the people that would propose this.

This is what happens when poor thinking tries to impose itself.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
BBawlight's avatar

Well I think it’s just silly. A fertilized egg cannot make decisions by itself and it most certainly isn’t working at what it’s host is working at. So it can’t be classed as forced labor or child labor because the egg-person is simply being a spectator to the work because it’s not actually doing anything but developing.
Those are just my thoughts on this… it’s just silly if you think about it.

wabbit's avatar

Sorry if my question is confusing. I fully appreciate why some US citizens oppose abortion and I respect their right to their opinion. My concern pertains to members of the US Congress legislating what a citizen can or cannot do with their own body. To me, the question of establishing legal rights for the protection of the unborn goes beyond the abortion issue. For example, does it open the door to establishing laws that limit a pregnant woman’s activities (legal) because it might endanger a fetus?

Aethelflaed's avatar

Are we going protection of the child, or personhood? Because personhood, yeah, I can see the case being made that since the unborn child has not consented to work and is too young to consent to such work it is illegal. Protection of the child… you’d need actual science, and it would vary a lot based on the type of work.

wundayatta's avatar

Ok, I’ll play.

Work would not be a problem, since the fetus is not actually doing any work. Just the mother. The fetus is just going along for the ride in its appropriate daycare situation.

There. That was pretty simple. Next.

gailcalled's avatar

She should get higher pay for the extra help.

Nullo's avatar


The child isn’t working, just being carried around. Unless the mother is working with hazardous materials, or is exerting herself unduly, there shouldn’t be any danger to the child.
I don’t think that additional legislation is necessary. The informed mother would understand this. Most employers have policies conducive to a healthy pregnancy, and the courts stand ever ready to sue the pants off of them if they forget.

@zenvelo I’m surprised at that response. It shows an uncanny disregard for the actual implications of the question.

@elbanditoroso Zygotes have a full set of chromosomes and a unique genome, what we consider a human, a fact that becomes self-evident with time and resources. Gametes, by contrast, have a half-set of chromosomes, the other half to be supplemented by the opposite gamete, and do not have the capacity in and of themselves to grow into anything. Wikipedia has a decent article on the subject.

zenvelo's avatar

@Nullo The whole idea is whacko, despite being promulgated by certain pandering politicians. My response is that the implications I mention are quite valid if one is to extrapolate from the original premise.

And really, there have been mentions of criminalization of the drinking of alcohol by pregnant women, and also the sale of alcohol to pregnant women, by do-gooders on both sides of the aisle. I don;t approve of such laws ether.

Get government out of women’s uteruses and women’s bodies.

Nullo's avatar

@zenvelo Get abortionists out of there too.

zenvelo's avatar

@Nullo Abortionists don’t go around imposing there will and beliefs on women. Some think Government should.

An argument with you on a abortion is not going to change your mind or mine. Let’s agree to disagree.

Nullo's avatar

@zenvelo No. Rather, they go around murdering unwanted babies. The greater crime, by most standards.

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