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Abortion, infanticide and moral context
  1. Lindsey Porter
  1. Correspondence to Lindsey Porter, Philosophy Department, University of Sheffield, 45 Victoria Street, Sheffield S3 7QB, UK; l.porter{at}


In ‘After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?’, Giubilini and Minerva argue that infanticide should be permitted for the same reasons as abortion. In particular, they argue that infanticide should be permitted even for reasons that do not primarily serve the interests (or would-be best interests) of the newborn. They claim that abortion is permissible for reasons that do not primarily serve the interests (or would-be interests) of the fetus because fetuses lack a right to life. They argue that newborns also lack a right to life, and they conclude that therefore, the same reasons that justify abortion can justify infanticide. This conclusion does not follow. The lack of a right to life is not decisive. Furthermore, the justificatory power of a given reason is a function of moral context. Generalisations about reasons across dissimilar moral contexts are invalid. However, a similar conclusion does follow—that fetus-killing and newborn-killing are morally identical in identical moral contexts—but this conclusion is trivial, since fetuses and newborns are never in identical moral contexts.

  • Abortion
  • Embryos and Fetuses
  • Newborns and Minors
  • Philosophical Ethics
  • Rights

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