Editor: KILLING newborn babies should be allowed if the mother wishes, Australian philosophers have argued in a prestigious journal, however their whole argument is premised on the notion that mothers ‘own’ children, and this property is theirs solely to decide on matters as important as life or death.
The role, rights and responsibilities of the fathers and other family members is ignored, perhaps denoting that these supposed philosophers are engaging in something other than open-minded scientific debate. Perhaps this discussions has something to do with the growing number of women being persecuted for filicide, the murder of the children, especially at the point of birth. We in Australia are quite familiar we a particularly high profile case of a sports personality who killed her new born child because it was expected to interfere with her sports career.
Perhaps in the well tried fashion of the likes of Jen McIntosh, this publication’s true purpose is to provide legal leverage to such mothers, in order to avoid prison terms for killing new born babies.
Its quite interesting that such leniency does not seem to be extended to the father in this philosophical discussion.
Their argument, that it is morally the same as abortion, has forced the British Medical Journal to defend its publication of their views.
In an article that has sparked outrage around the world and elicited death threats, Monash University’s Alberto Giubilini and the University of Melbourne’s Francesca Minerva say that a foetus and a newborn both lack a sense of life and aspiration.
They argue this justifies “after-birth abortion” on the proviso it is painless as the baby is not missing out on a life it cannot contemplate.
The doctors of philosophy argue in the BMJ publication Journal of Medical Ethics that one-third of infants with Down syndrome are not diagnosed in the womb, which means mothers of children with severe disabilities should have the chance to end a child’s life after, as well as before, birth.
However, the pair also want the principle of killing newborns extended to healthy babies, because a mother who is unwilling to care for it outweighs an infant’s right to life.
In the article, After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?, the authors argue: “A serious philosophical problem arises when the same conditions that would have justified abortion become known after birth. In such cases, we need to assess facts in order to decide whether the same arguments that apply to killing a human fetus can also be consistently applied to killing a newborn human.”
They also write that the practice should be called “after-birth abortion” and not “infanticide” to “emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a foetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child”.
“We claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk. Accordingly, a second terminological specification is that we call such a practice ‘after-birth abortion’ rather than ‘euthanasia’ because the best interest of the one who dies is not necessarily the primary criterion for the choice, contrary to what happens in the case of euthanasia.”
Although the authors claim that the “moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus, that is, neither can be considered a ‘person’ in a morally relevant sense”, they concede it is hard to exactly determine when a subject starts or ceases to be a “person”.
… but rather their application in consideration of maternal and family interests. The paper also draws attention to the fact that infanticide is practised in the Netherlands.”
The editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics, Julian Savulescu, said the article had “elicited personally abusive correspondence to the authors, threatening their lives and personal safety”. He said some of comments included:
“These people are evil. Pure evil. That they feel safe in putting their twisted thoughts into words reveals how far we have fallen as a society.”
“Right now I think these two devils in human skin need to be delivered for immediate execution under their code of ‘after birth abortions’ they want to commit murder – that is all it is! MURDER!!!”
“The fact that the Journal of Medical Ethics published this outrageous and immoral piece of work is even scarier”
“Alberto Giubilini looks like a muslim so I have to agree with him that all muslims should have been aborted. If abortion fails, no life at birth – just like he wants.”
He defended the article, saying the arguments in the paper were not new. “The novel contribution of this paper is not an argument in favour of infanticide … but rather their application in consideration of maternal and family interests. The paper also draws attention to the fact that infanticide is practised in the Netherlands.”
He said that “more than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society”.