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Defending superior moral status in pregnancy: a response to commentaries
  1. Heloise Robinson
  1. Exeter College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Heloise Robinson, University of Oxford Exeter College, Oxford, UK; heloise.robinson{at}

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In my feature article, ‘Pregnancy and superior moral status: a proposal for two thresholds of personhood’,1 I argue that there are reasons to recognise that pregnant women have a superior moral status. This is a new argument on personhood in philosophy, and I am not surprised that it has generated some discussion. While I am grateful that many authors have engaged with my ideas, I have not identified from the six commentaries any aspect in my approach that would need to be revised. I will do my best here, in the space available, to address the main points raised.

Gibson starts off by correctly noting that my proposal rests on a starting assumption (which I do not defend) that we follow a first threshold of personhood, but then seems to leave this aside in the rest of his critique.2 He says I have not justified why humanity’s survival is important, and that I have assumed that the existence of human persons matters. My response is that yes, I have, and that the first threshold already recognises the high moral value of human persons. If alternatively babies are harms themselves, or are harmed from being born, then perhaps we will see pregnant women as pest-making or victim-making entities. I …

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  • Contributors I am the sole author.

  • Funding The authors have 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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