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Christ Bioeth. 2004 Jan-Apr;10(1):55-61.

The moral status of a human fetus: a response to Lee.

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Department of Philosophy, Lycoming College, 700 College Place, Williamsport, PA 17701, USA.


It is an undeniable empirical fact that a human fetus is a member of the species homo sapiens from the moment of conception. There is thus an important sense in which it is a human being in itself, and not simply part of a pregnant woman's body, despite what defenders of abortion on demand might want us to think. It is also reasonable to suppose that all human beings, and thus human fetuses, are persons, with all that entails, but this is a metaphysical presupposition as opposed to an empirical fact, and is thus contentious. It is argued, however, that this should be of little comfort to the defenders of abortion, because the mere fact that human fetuses have an inherent tendency to become persons is sufficient reason to confer a moral status upon them, which renders abortion morally problematic at best.

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