Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 387–409 | Cite as

If Abortion, then Infanticide

  • David B. HershenovEmail author
  • Rose J. Hershenov


Our contention is that all of the major arguments for abortion are also arguments for permitting infanticide. One cannot distinguish the fetus from the infant in terms of a morally significant intrinsic property, nor are they morally discernible in terms of standing in different relationships to others. The logic of our position is that if such arguments justify abortion, then they also justify infanticide. If we are right that infanticide is not justified, then such arguments will fail to justify abortion. We respond to those philosophers who accept infanticide by putting forth a novel account of how the mindless can be wronged which serves to distinguish morally significant potential from morally irrelevant potential. This allows our account to avoid the standard objection that many entities possess a potential for personhood which we are intuitively under no obligation to further or protect.


Abortion Infanticide Potential Harm Moral status 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity at BuffaloBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.Niagara UniversityLewistonUSA

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