Two physicians, writing for the Journal of Medical Ethics, argue for the legalization of infanticide. In the paper, Doctors Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva argue that newborn babies are not really persons and are therefore “morally irrelevant,” thus permitting a procedure euphemistically termed “after birth abortion.”
There should be nothing shocking about the article, “After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?” It is, after all, a simple application of the logic of the pro-choice community. If one believes that a fetus is but a glob of tissue one must accept the right to remove that glob from the host body (otherwise known as a mother). If one accepts that the glob is not an actual and distinct life because it can not survive on its own, than surely logic dictates it is but a trivial fact whether or not that glob is within the host, or inches outside.
The only thing surprising about this article is that it took so long to write.
The authors write, “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.” Therefore it is “not possible to damage a newborn by preventing her from developing the potentiality to become a person in the morally relevant sense”.
According to the article, the health of the erstwhile child is unimportant. What is important is that to raise certain children “might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.” Furthermore, the doctors note that “it is hard to exactly determine when a subject starts or ceases to be a ‘person’.”
When Camille Paglia wrote in 2008 that “I have always frankly admitted that abortion is murder, the extermination of the powerless by the powerful. Liberals for the most part have shrunk from facing the ethical consequences of their embrace of abortion, which results in the annihilation of concrete individuals and not just clumps of insensate tissue,” I applauded her honesty. Here Paglia foreshadows the “ethical consequences” of the logic: abortion is murder, but so what?
Once we have the right to determine the relative worth of the life of another, the applications are endless. Already, 92 percent of pre-natal diagnoses of Downs Syndrome result in abortion. Just two days ago, US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified that fewer babies will save health care costs, which to her is a good thing.
It can not be too long until we apply the “after-birth abortion” logic to all sorts of terminally ill, or mentally ill, or even mentally deficient, persons. After all, that will save public health care dollars, which is something Giubilini and Minerva clearly intended. What’s more, we already have something analogous to after birth abortions, called euthanasia.
Are you thinking about the now infamous “death panels” mentioned by Sarah Palin? Oh, how the Left laughed at that Alaskan rube with her lowly state college education. The correct name of the panel is the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Their job is to limit Medicare spending. They have the power to ration health care, and as board members have openly admitted, nothing is more expensive and pointless than the provision of care during the final six months of life.
The argument in favor of abortion, as voiced by Giubilini and Minerva, makes clear that life can be terminated for reasons “such as the costs (social, psychological, economic).” Today, that may only apply to newborns, but the line of reason can not end there.
Lest you dismiss the authors with the foreign sounding names as part of some fringe element across the ocean, note that the Journal of Medical Ethics is a well-established, peer-reviewed scholarly publication. Among its board of directors is at least one name familiar to those of us involved in New York State politics.
Dr. Bonnie Steinbock is a professor at the University at Albany. The former chair of the philosophy department serves the taxpayers of New York not merely as an ivory tower instructor but as a consultant to the New York Institute for Ethical Stem Cell Research and a member of the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law. Prof. Steinbock is also active at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Bioethics. The author of such articles as “The Morality of Killing Human Embryos,” and “When Is Birth Unfair to the Child?” Steinbock is a leading voice of pragmatic morality.
Whether you choose to defend all human life as having intrinsic value, or you choose to promote the ability of the powerful over the powerless, the stakes are rising. The debate is here, now, in our medical schools and legislatures. One school of thought seeks to protect those who are too weak, too small, ill, or poor, to defend themselves. The other reasoning makes acceptable killing as social policy. If you are torn between the two sides, I ask only that you err on the side of life.