Fetuses, Newborns, and Parental Responsibility

Journal of Medical Ethics 46 (3):188-193 (2020)
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Abstract
I defend a relational account of difference in the moral status between fetuses and newborns. The difference in moral status between a fetus and a newborn is that the newborn baby is the proper object of ‘parental responsibility’ whereas the fetus is not. ‘Parental responsibilities’ are a moral dimension of a ‘parent-child relation’, a relation which newborn babies stand in, but fetuses do not. I defend this relational account by analyzing the concepts of ‘parent’ and ‘child’, and conclude that the difference in the moral status between fetuses and newborns means one may claim abortion is morally permissible while also claiming infanticide is not morally permissible, without inconsistency between the two claims.
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Archival date: 2019-08-26
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2019-08-26

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