I have today read an academic paper which has left me deeply disturbed.
In a paper entitled, “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?”, two academics openly propose murdering newborn babies, since they are not “actual persons,” only “potential persons.”
Drs Alberto Giublini and Francesca Minerva, writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics, suggest that killing a newborn baby should be permissible in all the cases in which abortion is, including cases where the child is not disabled.
The academics, who specialise in philosophy and ethics, put forward the view that neither foetuses nor newborn babies have a moral right to life; this is something reserved for “actual persons.” They decline to comment on when a “potential person” becomes an “actual person,” but say that babies do not qualify since they are not able to “make aims and appreciate their own lives.” Babies can, therefore, justifiably be killed. The fact that babies have the potential “to be persons” is, they believe morally irrelevant.
The authors suggest that the since the argument that a person with a condition such as Down’s syndrome could have an acceptable life is no reason to prohibit abortion, neither should it be a reason not to kill them on birth.
The authors don’t stop there, however, but continue by suggesting that it should also be perfectly permissible to murder a healthy newborn baby. Since a baby has not made any future plans, they see no reason why it cannot be killed. The document states that “the death of a newborn is not wrongful to her on the grounds that she cannot have formed any aim that she is prevented from accomplishing.” The authors believe that “the future we imagine for [the newborn child] is merely a projection of our minds on its potential lives.”
The authors have coined the term after-birth abortion which they favour over ‘infanticide’ “to emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a foetus … rather than to that of a child.” They also rule out the term ‘euthanasia’ because “the best interest of the one who dies is not necessarily the primary criterion for the choice.”
In a particularly shocking statement, the authors suggest that “merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life.”
Clearly this paper is, at this stage, merely floating ideas, but I must say that I find it abhorrent and deeply disturbing that two educated people with a background in ethics can, in all seriousness, suggest murdering babies.
That this paper can be given credibility by virtue of publication in the Journal of Medical Ethics is worrying indeed.
This seems to be to be the very worst kind of philosophising – the kind that has been favoured in brutal regimes such as Nazi Germany. I really hope that there is sufficient disgust at this paper for such suggestions to never see the light of day again.
UPDATE: I have just blogged about a video in which eminent scientist and renowned atheist states, “I would be in favour of infanticide.”