It was only a matter of time….
February 29, 2012 Leave a comment
Further to my previous post on gender-driven abortions, an interesting article came before my eyes today. It was (re)published in the Journal of Medical Ethics (part of the British Medical Journal family) last week and written by authors (Giublini & Minerva) with links to universities in Milan, Melbourne and Oxford. You can read the full text here.
The authors advocate the termination of life AFTER birth on the grounds that it is just as valid as terminating a fetus in the womb. Let me quote the study at length:
…we argue that, when circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.
In spite of the oxymoron in the expression, we propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide’, to emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child. Therefore, we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be.
Their justification for viewing the newborn baby in this dispensable way is as follows:
Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life’. We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.
Stay with the logic here:
Although fetuses and newborns are not persons, they are potential persons because they can develop, thanks to their own biological mechanisms, those properties which will make them ‘persons’ in the sense of ‘subjects of a moral right to life’: that is, the point at which they will be able to make aims and appreciate their own life…If a potential person, like a fetus and a newborn, does not become an actual person, like you and us, then there is neither an actual nor a future person who can be harmed, which means that there is no harm at all. So, if you ask one of us if we would have been harmed, had our parents decided to kill us when we were fetuses or newborns, our answer is ‘no’, because they would have harmed someone who does not exist (the ‘us’ whom you are asking the question), which means no one.
If criteria such as the costs (social, psychological, economic) for the potential parents are good enough reasons for having an abortion even when the fetus is healthy, if the moral status of the newborn is the same as that of the infant and if neither has any moral value by virtue of being a potential person, then the same reasons which justify abortion should also justify the killing of the potential person when it is at the stage of a newborn.
…if something went wrong during the delivery, or if economical, social or psychological circumstances change such that taking care of the offspring becomes an unbearable burden on someone, then people should be given the chance of not being forced to do something they cannot afford.
Now I think we need to acknowledge that these authors demonstrate consistent logic here – their discussion around the issue of a newborn being a ‘potential person’ just like an embryo or a fetus is fully in-keeping with an abortionist stance. But we should also see that the only way such an outrageous practise as killing a healthy newborn baby because the mother “cannot afford” to look after it can be justified is when we diminish our understanding of what life is and how precious (or not) that life is. This is just a logical and natural progression and where does it go next? Personally, I think that this principle (that killing newborn babies is ethically no different from aborting unborn babies) is correct but rather than coming to the conclusion that it’s therefore morally acceptable, hopefully it will open the eyes of many as to the horror of the de facto abortion-on-demand system we currently have in the UK.
The Lord recognises life in the womb (John the Baptist for example):
…he will be great before the Lord…and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb
Who would have thought we’d now be battling to get agreement on the validity of life outside the womb?