Dilemma for appeals to the moral significance of birth

J Med Ethics. 2020 Oct 26:medethics-2020-106781. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2020-106781. Online ahead of print.


Giubilini and Minerva argue that the permissibility of abortion entails the permissibility of infanticide. Proponents of what we refer to as the Birth Strategy claim that there is a morally significant difference brought about at birth that accounts for our strong intuition that killing newborns is morally impermissible. We argue that strategy does not account for the moral intuition that late-term, non-therapeutic abortions are morally impermissible. Advocates of the Birth Strategy must either judge non-therapeutic abortions as impermissible in the later stages of pregnancy or conclude that they are permissible on the basis of premises that are far less intuitively plausible than the opposite conclusion and its supporting premises.

Keywords: abortion; infanticide; killing; moral status.