HomeoldAbortionist: the baby’s soul appears when the mother accepts him

Abortionist: the baby’s soul appears when the mother accepts him

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“I frankly think the soul or personage comes in when the fetus is accepted by the mother.” — James McMahon, late term abortionist, now deceased

Los Angeles Times, The Abortions of Last Resort, 1-7-1990

McMahon performed partial-birth abortions when they were legal. It’s interesting what he says here – one wonders what gives a woman so much power that she can create a soul just by her attitude and opinion. If the woman never accepts the baby, if she still continues to reject the baby after he or she is born, does the baby still not have a soul?

Editor’s note. This appeared at clinicquotes.com.

A Controversial Perspective on Personhood

The quote from James McMahon, a late-term abortionist, offers a provocative and controversial perspective on the nature of personhood and the soul. McMahon suggests that the soul or personhood of a fetus is contingent upon the mother’s acceptance of the baby. This statement raises profound ethical and philosophical questions about the beginning of human life and the role of maternal acceptance in conferring personhood.

The Implications of McMahon’s View

McMahon’s view implies that the recognition of a fetus as a person with a soul depends entirely on the subjective feelings of the mother. This perspective grants extraordinary power to the mother, essentially allowing her to determine the moral and existential status of her unborn child. The implications of this view are significant and unsettling, particularly when considering the scenarios in which a mother may not accept her child even after birth. Does this rejection imply that the newborn lacks a soul or personhood? Such a notion challenges our fundamental understanding of human dignity and the inherent value of life.

The Concept of Personhood

The concept of personhood has been a central issue in the abortion debate. Traditional views often hold that personhood is an intrinsic quality, present from the moment of conception or at some defined point in fetal development. McMahon’s perspective, however, introduces a radical subjectivity, suggesting that personhood is not an inherent trait but rather something bestowed by external acceptance. This raises numerous ethical dilemmas, particularly regarding the rights of the unborn and the responsibilities of society to protect vulnerable lives.

Ethical and Philosophical Challenges

If personhood is dependent on acceptance, this could lead to a dangerous precedent where the value of a human life is determined by external validation rather than intrinsic worth. This could extend beyond abortion to other areas, such as euthanasia or the treatment of disabled individuals, where the value of life could be perceived as conditional rather than absolute. The idea that a soul or personhood can be denied based on rejection challenges the principle of equal dignity for all humans.

Maternal Acceptance and Societal Responsibility

While maternal acceptance is undoubtedly important for the emotional and psychological well-being of both mother and child, it should not be the sole determinant of a child’s personhood or right to life. Society has a responsibility to protect and affirm the inherent value of all human beings, regardless of individual circumstances or subjective opinions. This includes providing support to mothers and ensuring that the rights of the unborn are upheld.


Chelsea Garcia is a political writer with a special interest in international relations and social issues. Events surrounding the war in Ukraine and the war in Israel are a major focus for political journalists. But as a former local reporter, she is also interested in national politics.

Chelsea Garcia studied media, communication and political science in Texas, USA, and learned the journalistic trade during an internship at a daily newspaper. In addition to her political writing, she is pursuing a master's degree in multimedia and writing at Texas.

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