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Presbyterian minister says a baby becomes a person only when he is loved

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Prolife author Dave Sterrett said [1]:

“A Presbyterian minister in my city once said that he would support his teenage daughter to get an abortion. When another pastor asked him, “When do you believe a human person begins to exist?” The Presbyterian minister replied, “I think someone becomes a person when they are loved.”

The baby below died in an abortion clinic. He was never loved. Was he therefore never a person?

[1] Dave Sterrett, Aborting Aristotle: Examining Fatal Fallacies in the Abortion (South Bend, Indiana: St. Augustine’s Press, 2015) 96

Editor’s note. This appeared at clinicquotes.com and is reprinted with permission.

In a statement that has stirred significant debate, a Presbyterian minister recently asserted that a baby becomes a person only when he is loved. This provocative claim touches on deep philosophical, theological, and ethical issues surrounding personhood, human rights, and the nature of love. The minister’s statement has generated reactions from various corners of society, prompting a closer examination of the implications of such a viewpoint.

The Minister’s Perspective

The minister, whose name has not been disclosed, articulated a perspective rooted in the belief that personhood is not solely a biological or legal status but is intimately connected to relational and emotional factors. According to this view, a child attains full personhood only when they are the recipient of love and care, suggesting that emotional bonds play a crucial role in defining human identity and value.

Philosophical and Theological Implications

This assertion raises profound questions about the nature of personhood. Traditionally, many religious and philosophical traditions hold that personhood begins at conception or birth, rooted in the inherent dignity of human life. By contrast, the minister’s stance introduces a relational dimension, implying that personhood is not an inherent quality but is bestowed through love and human connection.

From a theological perspective, this view can be seen as both radical and contentious. It challenges conventional doctrines that emphasize the sanctity of life from conception. It also intersects with existential and humanistic philosophies that emphasize the role of relationships in shaping human existence.

Ethical and Social Repercussions

The minister’s statement has sparked a robust ethical debate. Critics argue that defining personhood based on being loved could lead to dangerous implications, such as justifying neglect or dehumanizing individuals who lack social bonds or affectionate relationships. This perspective risks undermining the intrinsic value of human life, making it contingent on subjective experiences and external validation.

Supporters, however, might contend that this view highlights the importance of emotional and social well-being in human development. They argue that love and care are fundamental to thriving, and recognizing this could lead to more compassionate and supportive social policies.

Reactions from the Faith Community

The broader Presbyterian community, along with other religious groups, has responded with a mix of criticism and reflection. Many leaders reaffirm the belief in the inherent worth of every human being from conception, emphasizing theological doctrines that uphold the sanctity of life. Others see this as an opportunity to engage in deeper discussions about the role of love, community, and support in human development.

Legal and Medical Perspectives

From a legal and medical standpoint, personhood is typically defined by clear biological and developmental milestones. The minister’s view introduces a subjective criterion that complicates the legal understanding of rights and protections. In medical ethics, personhood is often linked to viability and cognitive development, and this new perspective challenges professionals to consider the emotional and social dimensions of their care practices.


The claim that a baby becomes a person only when he is loved invites significant philosophical, theological, and ethical reflection. While it underscores the profound impact of love and human connection, it also challenges established notions of intrinsic human value. This statement has provoked a diverse array of reactions, prompting deeper conversations about what it means to be human and the essential role of love in our lives. As society grapples with these complex issues, the discourse initiated by this minister’s perspective may lead to more nuanced and compassionate approaches to understanding personhood and human dignity.


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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