For a more in-depth look at this see personhood under CASE AGAINST ABORTION – POLITICAL – PERSONHOOD.
History is strewn with the bloody consequences of this kind of thinking. If there is a group of people who are in our way, we seek to make them dispensable by dehumanising them with derogatory terms like sub-human and parasites etc.
As it is undeniable and uncontroversial that the unborn child is a separate, unique and living human being, (SEE CASE AGAINST ABORTION – BIOLOGICAL – MEDICAL TESTIMONIES) those who wish to cling to the ideologies of the pro-abortion movement have had to concede this point. But instead of coming to the conclusion that abortion therefore is wrong they just change the premise of their position. Now they say that it isn’t wrong to kill a human being but it is wrong to kill a human person.
We find arbitrary (and self seeking) reasons like sentience for excluding persons from rights of personhood. What moral weight does sentience have in determining someone’s value? None.
Does our value decrease if we are in a coma or a deep sleep? You might say: “That is different as the person in a coma previously had experiences!” This goes to show that it is not the current abilities that grant our value but the inherent.
Like almost all reasons for denying rights to the unborn child, sentience confuses functioning as a person with being a person. Functionalism says that in order to be valued you must be able to perform certain tasks that we as bigger stronger people will set for you.
The case should be that just belonging to the human species is adequate to grant rights of personhood.
If self-consciousness is important for determining whether someone is a person or not, new born babies are at risk of extermination. A child maybe self aware but she doesn’t become self conscious until she is around a year old.