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Why the wrongness of intentionally impairing children in utero does not imply the wrongness of abortion
  1. Simon Cushing
  1. Philosophy, University of Michigan, Flint, Michigan, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Simon Cushing, Philosophy, University of Michigan-Flint, Flint, MI 48502, USA; simoncu{at}


Perry Hendricks’ ‘impairment argument’, which he has defended in this journal, is intended to demonstrate that the generally conceded wrongness of giving a fetus fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) shows that abortion must also be immoral, even if we allow that the fetus is not a rights-bearing moral person. The argument fails because the harm of causing FAS is extrinsic but Hendricks needs it to be intrinsic for it to show anything about abortion. Either the subject of the wrong of causing FAS is a person who does not exist in the case of abortion or the wrong is negligible.

  • Abortion - Induced
  • Embryos and Fetuses

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  • Contributors SC is the sole author.

  • Funding The author has not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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