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Harman, Elizabeth. Creation Ethics: The Moral Status of Early Fetuses and the Ethics of Abortion
1999, Philosophy and Public Affairs 28 (4):310-324.
Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Introduction: There has been considerable discussion of the moral status of early fetuses and the ethics of the choice whether to abort a pregnancy. But one tenable view about the moral status of early fetuses has been regularly ignored. As a consequence, a very liberal view about the ethics of abortion is more attractive than has previously been thought. Let us use the term ‘early fetus’ as follows: (1) ‘early fetus’: a fetus before it has any intrinsic properties that themselves confer moral status on the fetus. I assume that there is a nonnegligible period of time in which fetuses are early fetuses in my sense; it may be as short as a few weeks or as long as several months, depending on which intrinsic properties can them- selves confer moral status. One plausible view says that an early fetus is a fetus before it has any conscious experience and before it can properly be described as the subject of experience.

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