Two medical ethicists have controversially claimed that doctors should be allowed to kill disabled or even unwanted newborn babies because they are “not actual persons”.
In an article published by the British Medical Journal, Francesca Minerva and Alberto Guibilini argue that parents should be given the choice to end the lives of their children shortly after they are born because, at this stage, they are “morally irrelevant” and have “no moral right to life.”
In the article,entitled “After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live”, they argue that infanticide is no different morally to abortion since both a foetus and a newborn baby were only “potential persons”.
“The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a foetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual,” the authors claimed.
“Both a foetus 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.”
The authors suggested that the practice of infanticide, which they termed as “after- birth abortion” should even be permissible where a child was perfectly healthy if the birth was unwanted, inconvenient or too expensive for the parents.
They concluded that: “What we call ‘after-birth abortion’ should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the new-born is not disabled”.
Academic peers, however, have criticised the article for being “chilling” and an “inhumane defence of child destruction”.
For more see article published 02/03/2012:
Rev Joanna Jepson, who is well-known for her outspoken opposition to late-term abortions, said that the article highlights the false ethical assumption made by many pro-choice groups, that abortion was morally justified because the child was still in the womb.
“There is logic to their point – if we consider it acceptable to abort a baby up until birth then why not allow it to die afterwards? It is just a difference in geography – within or outside the mother’s body.
“Of course, I would see this as compelling reason to abolish late-term abortion; if infanticide is morally repulsive then abortion is too.
“Becoming agents of death fundamentally changes doctor’s role as healer and physician, and it also has massive repercussions on society’s conscience shifting what is understood to be morally and socially unacceptable to become acceptable.”
The Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pro-Life, Lord Alton, commented that:
“It is profoundly disturbing, indeed shocking, to see the way in which opinion-formers within the medical profession have ditched the professional belief of the healer to uphold the sanctity of human life for this impoverished and inhumane defence of child destruction.”
Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:
“When the value and sanctity of life is undermined, as it has been under our broken abortion laws, then these sort of arguments start appearing. The authors of this study are right that there is no moral equivalence between aborting an unborn child and killing a newborn baby: both are totally wrong.”
The Daily Mail
Journal of Medical Ethics