ABSTRACT

This chapter defends the right to life of newly born babies, even defective ones, againt the view that newborns are not persons. Vitalists argue that witholding life-prolonging treatment from newborns is never justified, unless treatment would be futile. The case is quite different for babies, who are conscious and sentient. Babies can be not only healthy or unhealthy, but happy or miserable. Babies have a welfare of their own: things can be done for their sakes. So babies, unlike trees, can have rights. The concept of personhood is ambiguous between its descriptive and its normative sense. Warren's criteria belong to the descriptive sense. In its normative use, the term 'person' ascribes moral properties, such as rights and duties. Nevertheless, it seems that there are good reasons for regarding both the lives and the interests of person as morally more valuable and important than the lives and interests of non-persons.