An Analysis of the Morality of Infanticide

Roslyn Valdespino


Faculty Advisor: Chad Horne


Roslyn Valdespino is a junior from San Antonio, Texas. She is double majoring in Neuroscience and Philosophy, and has a minor in Latin. As an aspiring physician, she appreciates the intersection of her majors. For example, she loves learning which molecular events must occur for a thought to become a memory, but also loves learning how “thought” produces unique views regarding the world, existence, and morality.

Moreover, Roslyn’s long-standing desire to become more educated on the morality of contemporary medical practices inspired her to complete this project. To do so, she utilized the literature search abilities she developed through BIOL_SCI 398, and employed the analytical skills developed via multiple 300-level philosophy courses while an underclassmen. Additionally, as a member of the Catholic Scholars’ Program, Roslyn engaged in frequent seminars and discussions which addressed the morality of controversial medical practices.



Broadly, my research topic is an assessment of the moral permissibility of infanticide. My paper focuses on what I believe to be one of the most compelling arguments in support of infanticide. This argument, which I refer to as “after-birth abortion”, contends that infanticide is morally permissible in every situation in which an abortion is morally justifiable. My independent evaluation of each component of this argument ultimately judges it as unconvincing, and I conclude that all instances of infanticide as discussed in my paper are thus morally impermissible.

For several years now, I have wanted to better investigate controversial medical practices. As an aspiring physician, I wanted (and want) to form a more educated opinion on the morality of these procedures. So, when my neuropsychopharm summer research internship was cancelled due to the pandemic, I realized that I finally had the time to pursue this goal. Additionally, I realized that I could obtain direct one-on-one guidance on any project of my choosing via enrollment in Philosophy 399. 

With many different bioethical issues to investigate, I originally decided to focus on euthanasia. I choose to focus on euthanasia because it is a practice whose justifications and objections I was already familiar with (due to discussions within the Catholic Scholars’ Program). As the project continued, I stumbled upon a specific branch of euthanasia: the killing of infants. I initially found this practice to be so shocking and intriguing that I decided to make it the main focus of my project for the rest of the summer. Thus, my assessment of the morality of infanticide was born.

Future researchers might build on this work by expanding on my assessment to include other instances of infanticide not specifically addressed in the paper. For example, one aspect I do not address in the scope of my paper is instances in which infanticide is used to speed up an already rapidly approaching and definite death. This component of the debate is worth considering at length. Additionally, scholars ought to also seek out what they believe to be the most compelling arguments and then further contribute to the debate. There is a lot at stake in this debate, and we owe it to those affected to get it right.

After I graduate, I will likely spend one year conducting research and possibly obtaining a Master’s degree. If I am truly bold, however, I will instead spend this year volunteering abroad; perhaps I would teach or work to improve healthcare/delivery. To be honest, I am torn between the two. After this gap year, I plan to attend medical school and one day work with marginalized communities.