Personhood and After-Birth Abortion

40 Human Life Review 97 (Winter 2014)

5 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2017 Last revised: 21 Aug 2017

See all articles by Joshua J. Craddock

Joshua J. Craddock

Harvard University, Law School, Students ; James Wilson Institute for Natural Rights and the American Founding

Date Written: January 1, 2014


Two Australian ethicists writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics recently ignited controversy by suggesting that infanticide or “after-birth abortion” should be tolerated. Given the contextual background of Kermit Gosnell's prosecution, this paper re-examines the argument for after-birth abortion as advanced by Giubilini and Minerva, and concludes that the authors misunderstand human personhood and fail to justify their own ethical reasoning.

The article first reconstructs Giubilini and Minerva's argument and situates it in a philosophical tradition alongside similar arguments for infanticide. The article then critiques Giubilini and Minerva's functionalist account of human personhood and critically analyzes their reasoning. The article concludes by observing that Giubilini and Minerva either prove that infanticide should be legal or that society’s definition of personhood must be reconsidered and abortion, like infanticide, should be illegal.

Keywords: abortion, infanticide, ethics, philosophy, Kant, Guibilini, Minerva, personhood, consequentialism, utilitarianism

Suggested Citation

Craddock, Joshua J. and Craddock, Joshua J., Personhood and After-Birth Abortion (January 1, 2014). 40 Human Life Review 97 (Winter 2014), Available at SSRN:

Joshua J. Craddock (Contact Author)

James Wilson Institute for Natural Rights and the American Founding

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