The Moral Status of Preembryos, Embryos, Fetuses, and Infants
Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. 1997 Oct; 22(5): 457-478.
Some have argued that embryos and fetuses have the moral status of personhood because of certain criteria that are satisfied during gestation. However, these attempts to base personhood during gestation on intrinsic characteristics have uniformly been unsuccessful. Within a secular framework, another approach to establishing a moral standing for embryos and fetuses is to argue that we ought to confer some moral status upon them. There appear to be two main approaches to defending conferred moral standing; namely, consequentialist and contractarian arguments. This article puts forward a consequentialist argument for the conferred moral standing of preembryos, embryos, fetuses, and infants. It states and defends an original version of the commonly-held view that moral standing increases during gestation. It also explores the implications of this viewpoint for several issues: what is involved in showing 'respect' for preembryos; and whether it is permissible to create preembryos solely for research.
Beginning of Life; Embryo Disposition; Embryo Research; Embryos; Ethics; Fetal Development; Fetuses; Human Characteristics; Infants; Legal Aspects; Life; Moral Policy; Moral Status; Newborns; Personhood; Property Rights; Property; Research; Rights; Risks and Benefits; Self Concept; Social Interaction; Teleological Ethics; Value of Life; Viability;
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