Lydia posted this response to my previous discussion about the term fetus and I thought it was worth airing out on the main stage. I will respond later, but for now here are her thoughts. Jay
I think the issue here is one of social usage. I was just on a blog the other day where the fellow was saying what an "emotional" thing it was (hence, bad) for pro-lifers to call the unborn child a "baby" instead of a "fetus." Now, we all know that we're surrounded by people who think just this way and deliberately use "fetus" to deny or "remain neutral on" the question of the personhood of the unborn child. You can say that the pro-aborts have hijacked the term, but the fact remains that they have been pretty successful in so hijacking it. If post-birth infanticide becomes acceptable, I expect "neonate" will be used the same way. There's nothing wrong with being sensitive to this social fact about the word's usage and using "unborn child" or something like that to avoid sending the message that we're neutral on the child's humanity. Nor, I think, are we being unscientific to do so. Of course, a lot depends on context.
One more point: It's starting to happen now in news stories that _born_ preemies who survive abortions are being called "fetuses." It's my understanding that definitionally the term "fetus" is not supposed to apply to a born child, regardless of stage of development. At least, it never used to. So the term is now being extended even into the realm of the born child, in an obvious attempt to lower sympathy for the child and raise sympathy for the mother who throws it in a dumpster, the abortionist who puts it in a back room, etc.