Union Public Policy Class

Solving the World's Problems One Bulldog at a Time

Royal… Fetus?


As we all know, Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton are expecting their first child, who will be third in line for the British crown when born (considering it’s a boy… which is a different story for another blog post). All of Great Britain and the rest of the Western world are brimming with excitement over the news of this new baby. Yes, that’s right, William and Kate have a baby. Even though Kate is not very far along, the glob of cells growing inside of her is characterized by the term “baby,” even though for many mothers who are just as far along, the politically correct term is “fetus.”

This raises an interesting conversation about the nature of personhood. Is Will and Kate’s child characterized as a child because it’s royal? Or is it simply because the child is wanted — not only by its parents but by an entire country? There is simply no difference between the Royal 10-week old collection of cells and the 10-week old collection of cells aborted by a doctor in a clinic except for the fact that one was wanted and the other was not.

Denny Burke, associate professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, wrote a blog about this curiosity, saying, “Most people have not pondered the fact that their language about the unborn is shaped less by the personhood of the unborn than by whether or not the baby is wanted. Is there any other class of people whose personhood depends solely on whether or not they are wanted?… In this case, the way we speak of the unborn reveals whether or not we view them as a part of the human community with an unalienable right to life.”

Oddly enough, even those who call the Royal baby a fetus have personified it — on Twitter. Yes, that’s right the @RoyalFetus has a Twitter page with over 15,000 followers and is updating the world periodically about its status. Now why would a fetus (who isn’t a person, remember) be having thoughts and communicating with its Twitter followers? The double standard of personhood for the commoners vs. personhood for the royal and/or personhood for wanted babies vs. unwanted fetuses truly breaks my heart. If Kate Middleton’s child is characterized as a baby, shouldn’t that be a courtesy we extend to every child at that stage of development?

Also this blog holds an interesting position on the situation, discussing how if the British monarchy were to truly become a modern monarchy, it must begin to respect women’s reproductive rights and health decisions. Definitely worth the read, I’d say, even if you disagree.


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4 thoughts on “Royal… Fetus?

  1. I find this article very interesting. One of the issues I’ve considered along with this is if the gay marriage is legalized, then could a royal family member be in a homosexual marriage and that be acceptable to the people? Or is the royal marriage too sacred? The monarchical reign and these new social ideas are going to see play out in the United Kingdom.

  2. Kathryn, I wrote about this point several years ago. The only time when the status of a human being depended on the intention of another person was with slavery.

  3. sethbrake on said:

    It’s amazing how important semantics can be.

  4. luketrammell on said:

    This is an incredibly interesting point. I agree that there is a huge double standard here that is not right. If you claim to hold a belief then you should be willing to use it in all situations. If a person backs down from a view they must be willing to admit their double standard when called out about it. The sad thing is that the news story I saw about this subject a few days ago presented the issue very flippantly and almost satirically, which was also cause for concern. This is a real issue that deserves critical discussion and I hope that as her pregnancy continues more pressure is levied so that this issue will be further fleshed out in the public arena. Thanks for posting.

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