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Michael Tooley on Infanticide

One reason the question of the morality of infantacide is worth examining is that it seems very difficult to formulate a completely satisfactory liberal position on abortion without coming to grips with the infanticide issue. The problem the liberal encounters is essentially that of specifying a cutoff point which is not arbitrary: at what stage in the development of a human being does it cease to be morally permissible to destroy it? It is important to be clear about the difficulty here. The conservative’s objection is not that since there is a continuous line of development from a zygote to a newborn baby, one must also conclude that if it is seriously wrong to destory a newborn baby it is also seriously wrong to destory a zygote or any intermediate stage in the develpment of a human being. His point is rather that if one says it is wrong to destroy a newborn baby but not a zygote or some intermediate stage in the develpment of a human being, one should be prepared to point to a morally relevant diffference between a newborn baby and the earlier stage in the development of a human being.


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