Send to

Choose Destination
J Med Ethics. 2013 May;39(5):353-6. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2012-100640.

Of course the baby should live: against 'after-birth abortion'.

Author information

Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford, Suite 8, Littlegate House, St Ebbe's St, Oxford OX1 1PT, UK.


In a recent paper, Giubilini and Minerva argue for the moral permissibility of what they call 'after-birth abortion', or infanticide. Here I suggest that they actually employ a confusion of two distinct arguments: one relying on the purportedly identical moral status of a fetus and a newborn, and the second giving an independent argument for the denial of moral personhood to infants (independent of whatever one might say about fetuses). After distinguishing these arguments, I suggest that neither one is capable of supporting Giubilini and Minerva's conclusion. The first argument is at best neutral between permitting infanticide and prohibiting abortion, and may in fact more strongly support the latter. The second argument, I suggest, contains an ambiguity in its key premise, and can be shown to fail on either resolution of that ambiguity. Hence, I conclude that Giubilini and Minerva have not demonstrated the permissibility of infanticide, or even great moral similarity between abortion and infanticide.


Abortion; Embryos and Fetuses; Interests of Woman/Fetus/Father; Newborns and Minors

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center