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A fetus may be defined, in biomedical terms, as an unborn vertebrate from the embryo stage until birth. Any attempt to define the fetus has, however, been a contentious point of debate over the last several decades. These debates have often centered on the question of when life begins and what constitutes a child. There remains little consensus among those who believe that personhood, and therefore childhood, begins at fertilization, conception, some point during pregnancy, or at birth. This entry offers an overview of legal, political, medical, ethical, and social debates regarding fetal personhood and examines shifting ideas about fetuses in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. This entry further examines both feminist and childhood studies perspectives on fetal personhood. This entry begins by ...

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