This Clip of James Franco Hearing a Professor’s Argument for Abortion Is Causing Some Controversy


James Franco co-hosts a new series of YouTube videos called “Philosophy Time,” where he talks with philosophers and academics about deep moral and ethical issues.

In one of the recent videos, Liz Harman of Princeton University discusses the morality of “early abortion.” Harman’s argument for abortion is that essentially because the aborted human fetus has not had a future, than it does not have “moral status” even though she later concedes that these fetuses are at the “beginnings stages of persons.”

However, she then says,

What I think is actually among early fetuses there are two very different kinds of beings. So, James, when you were an early fetus, and Eliot, when you were an early fetus, all of us I think we already did have moral status then. But we had moral status in virtue of our futures.

She says that the unborn “is a very different kind of entity. That’s something that doesn’t have a future as a person and it doesn’t have moral status.”

It’s a confusing argument, and Franco follows up with, “So what you’re saying is if the fetus is never destined to become a person, it doesn’t have ‘moral status’? If a woman decides to have an abortion with an early fetus, just that act or that intention negates the ‘moral status’ of that early fetus just because if she goes out and has an abortion, it’s pretty certain that it’s not going to become a person?”

It’s hard to read the faces of Franco and philosophy professor Eliot Michaelson, but at one point, a video graphic of two half circle arrows appears, which seems to insinuate that the argument is using a sort of circular logic to justify abortion.

The video is causing some controversy and debate among both liberal and conservative-leaning sites, who are questioning the logic of this kind of ethics.