What is the legal definition of human life?

Specifically in a court of law in the U.S.

Please don't give me your personal opinions. I only want to know how this is defined for criminal/ethical purposes.

4 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Definitions would obviously vary by jurisdiction. Here is the definition of "human being" used by federal courts.

    Quoting from U.S. v. Nelson, 53 M.J. 319, 323 (2002):

    The term "human being" means a child that was "born alive," and that "born alive" means that child was wholly expelled from its mother's body and possessed or was capable of an existence by means of a circulation independent of her own.

    See also U.S. v. Gibson, 1954 WL 2725 (AFCMR, 1954).

  • 1 decade ago

    concerning what? when a person is considered human before birth, or when they're considered legally dead?

    If you are talking about abortion, the courts look at viability, which is around 22 to 24 weeks old, after that, abortion is illegal (unless to save the mom's life). Viability means when the baby is able to live on it's own, outside the mother.

    Source(s): Just took a Law, Ethics, and Life Sciences class.
  • 1 decade ago

    The courts are purposefully vague. Anytime a new opinion is offered, then it can be a different interpretation.

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    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    The definition continues, like the species, to evolve. New court, new definition.

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