Parental Responsibilities and Moral Status

Journal article


Blackshaw, BP and Rodger, Daniel (2020). Parental Responsibilities and Moral Status. Journal of Medical Ethics. https://doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2020-106173
AuthorsBlackshaw, BP and Rodger, Daniel
Abstract

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.

KeywordsMoral Status; Infanticide; Relationships
Year2020
JournalJournal of Medical Ethics
PublisherBMJ Publishing Group
ISSN0306-6800
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2020-106173
Publication dates
Print07 Apr 2020
Publication process dates
Accepted15 Mar 2020
Deposited19 Mar 2020
Accepted author manuscript
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Open
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