“If fetuses aren’t people, we would be allowed to treat them however we want.”

Sometimes pro-life commenters have objected to my view of personhood on the grounds that, if this view were accepted, it would become morally acceptable to do things that seem immoral. This includes things like killing fetuses entirely for your own pleasure or desecrating their bodies in particularly gruesome ways. But rejecting the personhood of a fetus doesn’t mean that any act towards the fetus would therefore be morally acceptable. There are many different reasons an act can be immoral, and we routinely condemn actions even when they don’t directly harm a subject of experience. For example, we would consider mutilating a dead body for sadistic purposes a wrongful act without taking the bizarre position that a dead body is a person.

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