Gradualism is also reflected in many Western abortion laws that prohibit ‘late abortion’. Importantly, Israeli law does not ban abortion at any stage of pregnancy. A questionnaire presenting ten successive stages was distributed to 281 Israeli respondents to examine attitudes regarding the fetus’s status vis-a-vis its stages of development. Participants were asked to grade the fetus as having ‘personhood’ or as a ‘living organism’ on a five-point scale for each stage. Researchers analyzed the data to show frequency distribution.

The fetus gains its ascribed personhood gradually. Most of the participants perceived the fetus as a person at the stage in which the woman feels movements. Additionally, many evaluated the fetus as a living organism at earlier stages, thus distinguishing between the fetus as a living organism and as a person. An international comparison with English-speaking countries revealed a local ‘Israeli’ tendency to attribute personhood status to the fetus only at a relatively late stage.

The study concluded that ‘Israeli’ fetus acquires its status gradually. This finding challenges the dichotomous conceptualization of the fetus as ‘a person’ or ‘non-person’. The authors conclude by presenting the fetus’s perceived transformation to ‘personhood’ as being influenced by national and religious factors.