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[NPR, "All Things Considered," January 21, 1998]
A recurring question in the abortion debate has been whether the fetus meets the definition of "person." Why should this be relevant? What advantage is it to be a person? What does a person get?
At the most basic level, persons get protected from violence. Not all persons are allowed to drive or to vote, but every person is allowed to call the cops if someone tries to beat them up. There are probably many laws that are unnecessary or foolish, but the irreducible minimum are those laws that protect persons from violence--that prevent the larger and stronger from crushing the smaller and weaker. Laws against violence even the odds, replacing an older and more instinctive law of "might makes right."