Journal of Medical Ethics 47 (3):187-188 (2020)

Bruce P. Blackshaw
University of Birmingham
Daniel Rodger
London South Bank University
Prabhpal Singh has recently defended a relational account of the difference in moral status between fetuses and newborns as a way of explaining why abortion is permissible and infanticide is not. He claims that only a newborn can stand in a parent–child relation, not a fetus, and this relation has a moral dimension that bestows moral value. We challenge Singh’s reasoning, arguing that the case he presents is unconvincing. We suggest that the parent–child relation is better understood as an extension of an existing relationship formed during the gestational period. The change in this relation at birth is not sufficient to justify the radical change in moral status required to rule out infanticide while accepting the permissibility of abortion. Given that the moral status of orphans is also problematic under Singh’s account, we conclude that Singh has not shown that a newborn has greater moral worth than a fetus.
Keywords fetus  abortion  moral status  infanticide  parental responsibility
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Reprint years 2020, 2021
DOI 10.1136/medethics-2020-106173
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References found in this work BETA

The Moral Complexity of Sperm Donation.Rivka Weinberg - 2008 - Bioethics 22 (3):166–178.
How Do We Acquire Parental Responsibilities?Joseph Millum - 2008 - Social Theory and Practice 34 (1):71-93.

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Citations of this work BETA

Defending the Distinction Between Pregnancy and Parenthood.Prabhpal Singh - 2021 - Journal of Medical Ethics 47 (3):189-191.

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