Transhuman Babies and Human Pariahs 209
freedom. 234 Legislatures have also created rights for corporate persons; for example the Illinois
Limited Liability Company Act defines person as “an individual, partnership, domestic or foreign
limited partnership, limited liability company or foreign liability company, trust, estate,
association, corporation, governmental body, or other juridical being.” 235
Although the courts have granted personhood rights to non-biological, entities such as
corporations, 236 when it comes to living creatures, relatively recent notions of personhood track
closely with the genetic makeup of Homo sapiens. In Roe v. Wade, the Court explicitly stated that
“the word ‘person,’ as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn.” 237
However, in Gonzales v. Carhart, the Court’s reasoning evolved into an extension of a quasi-personhood status to a human fetus based on some abstract, non-scientific, 238 element of human
life, as a justification for banning a late-term abortion procedure. 239 Although this is as far as the
judiciary has gone in extending elements associated with “personhood” to a human fetus240 there
is a widespread movement seeking to extend full personhood to a human embryo from the moment
of conception. 241 Human personhood, therefore, remains a murky area in American jurisprudence,
which is seemingly dependent on some genetic components and other, ethereal, non-defined
other associations should be treated differently under the First Amendment simply because such associations are not
‘natural persons’.”) (citations omitted).
234 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 134 S. Ct. 2751, 2767-69 (2014) (“The first question that we must address is whether
this provision [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] applies to regulations that govern the activities of for-profit
corporations like Hobby Lobby… Under the Dictionary Act, the wor[d] ‘person’… include[s] corporations,
companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals.” Thus,
unless there is something about the [Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”)] context that indicates otherwise,
the Dictionary Act provides a quick, clear, and affirmative answer to the question whether the companies involved
in these cases may be heard… No known understanding of the term “person” includes some but not all corporations.
The term person sometimes encompasses artificial persons (as the Dictionary Act instructs), and it sometimes is
limited to natural persons.”) (citations omitted).
235 805 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 180/1-1.5 (2012).
236 See supra notes 231- 35.
237 Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 158 (1973).
238 Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124, 158 (2007) (“The Act's ban on abortions that involve partial delivery of a
living fetus furthers the Government's objectives. No one would dispute that, for many, D & E is a procedure itself
laden with the power to devalue human life. Congress could nonetheless conclude that the type of abortion
proscribed by the Act requires specific regulation because it implicates additional ethical and moral concerns that
justify a special prohibition.”) (emphasis added).See also Pham, supra note 136, at 150.
239 Carhart, 550 U.S. at 158.
240 See Pham, supra note 136, at 150.
241 Jonathan F. Will, Beyond Abortion: Why the Personhood Movement Implicates Reproductive Choice, 39 AM. J.
L. & MED. 573, 598 (2013).
242 Personhood as it relates to human embryos is a legal area which is far from settled. There has been a recent
revival of the movement seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade. In 2016, the Ohio legislature passed a bill that would
outlaw abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected. See Kim Palmer, Ohio Lawmakers Pass ‘Heartbeat’
Abortion Legislation, REUTERS (Dec. 7, 2016), http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ohio-abortion-idUSKBN13W177.
Another example of the fight for the recognition of personhood at the moment of conception is evidenced by the
bizarre case against actress Sofia Vergara, who has been sued by her own frozen embryos. See Ruth Graham, Sofia
Vergara’s Frozen Embryos, “Emma” and “Isabella,” Are Suing Her, SLATE (Dec. 8, 2016),