Abortion and Infanticide
In a paper that has outraged many, and rightly so, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva argue that there is no moral difference between a fetus and a newborn, neither of whom has the moral status of a person, therefore "‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled."
While I do find this proposal morally abhorrent, I do think that the argument that there is no difference in the moral status of fetus and a newborn is worth considering. If the difference between a fetus and a newborn is merely passage through the birth canal, then indeed I find it difficult to see why this change of geography should constitute a significant change in moral status. Being pro-choice, I have been trying to grapple with this problem for quite some time. The problem is most people have the impression that if abortion is morally permissible, then this permission extends right to the very last moment of gestation, the moment before the baby is born. This leads to a very counter-intuitive picture: It is morally okay to kill a baby right before it's born, but it is morally wrong to kill a baby right after it's born. The mere act of delivery itself cannot justify such a radical change of moral status.
The mistake here is to believe that the moral status of a fetus remains constant and uniform through out the course of pregnancy. I believe it is otherwise. There is a huge difference in the moral status of a first trimester fetus and a third trimester fetus. People are misguided in thinking that it is the time of delivery that constitutes the definitive moral moment between abortion and infanticide. I believe the definitive moral moment is the age of viability, the age at which it is possible for a fetus to survive outside the uterus. The age of viability not just depends on the developmental capacities of the fetus but also on the available medical technology that is required to keep the pre-term infant alive, and therefore it is imprecise. In the Western world the age of viability is currently 20 weeks of gestation, which puts it in the mid of 2nd trimester. In the developing countries it ranges from 24-28 weeks of gestation. I take late-term abortion to be the termination of pregnancy that is after the age of viability, and I do not think that there is much difference (even though a difference is there) in the moral status of a late-term abortion and infanticide. If that is so, then indeed it is hard to avoid the conclusion that infanticide should be permissible in all the cases where a late-term abortion is. But I do not think that infanticide is morally permissible, and therefore I do not think a late-term abortion is morally permissible, despite being pro-choice. For me the age of viability is the morally decisive line, not the day of delivery.