Killing and Impairing Fetuses

The New Bioethics 28 (2):127-138 (2022)
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Could it be that if a fetus is not a person abortion is still immoral? One affirmative answer comes in the form of ‘The Impairment Argument’, which utilizes ‘The Impairment Principle’ to argue that abortion is immoral even if fetuses lack personhood. I argue ‘The Impairment Argument’ fails. It is not adequately defended from objections, and abortion is, in fact, a counterexample to the impairment principle. Furthermore, it explains neither what the wrong-making features of abortion are nor what features of fetuses ground their supposed moral significance. By presupposing the fetus lacks personhood and providing no alternate account of the basis of fetuses’ moral significance, there is nothing to constitute abortion’s wrongness. Attempts to modify it fail for the same reasons. Thus, the impairment argument fails to show abortion is immoral.

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Prabhpal Singh
University of Ottawa


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