Karl du Fresne, a regular columnist for The Dominion Post, has written today:
When I read recently that two medical ethicists had suggested it should be legal to kill newborn babies, my first thought was that they must be anti-abortion campaigners choosing an unusually dramatic way to make their point.
After all, what’s the difference, ethically speaking, between aborting a baby at 20 weeks’ gestation or waiting until it’s born, then quietly suffocating it or administering a lethal injection? None that I can see.
That’s exactly the point made by doctors Francesca Minerva and Alberto Giubilini in a recent article in the Journal of Medical Ethics. As it turns out, the two ethicists are not opposed to abortion. Far from it. They are simply advancing, in a clinically dispassionate way, the argument that it doesn’t make any difference whether babies’ lives are terminated in the womb or after birth.
Newborns aren’t actual persons, they suggest, merely potential persons. Neither the foetus nor the newborn baby is a person with a moral right to life. Only actual persons can be harmed by being killed.
It’s a proposition that would shock decent people. Yet it exposes the fundamental flaw, both logical and moral, behind abortion laws such as those that apply in New Zealand.
Most people who think it’s OK to abort babies in the womb would recoil in horror at the thought of snuffing their lives out once they’ve been born.
But I ask again, what’s the difference? Some babies that are legally aborted under present law (there were 16,630 in 2010) have reached a stage in their development when they are capable, with intensive medical care, of surviving outside the womb.
Newborn babies also need intervention to survive. So at what point do we decide a baby has a right to life – at six months old, one year, only when it’s capable of feeding itself and walking?
No civilised society would countenance the killing of babies at any of these stages. It would equal the worst horrors of Nazism.
Yet the Australian state of Victoria already allows babies to be aborted right up to the time of birth and pro-abortion lobbyists would like the same law adopted here. It’s only a short step from there to infanticide.
And why not? After all, Minerva and Giubilini make it clear there is no ethical difference between killing babies in the womb and murdering them after birth. Any point after conception at which society decides it’s legally permissable to end their lives is entirely artificial and arbitrary.
One chilling argument advanced by the ethicists is that parents whose babies are born disabled without warning, as often happens frequently, should be able to have them killed.
A society that considers itself humane would draw back in horror from such a proposal, but it’s simply a logical extensioin of what we’re doing now.
Source: The Dominion Post. Tuesday, March 13, 2012.
Note: The Society for Promotion of Community Standards Inc. (SPCS) has as one of its seven objects in its constitution:
Section 2(b) “To promote recognition of the sanctity of human life and its preservation in all stages.”
This written purpose has been approved by the Charities Commission, headed by Trevor Garrett, as a “charitable purpose”. The publication of the opinion piece above by Karl du Fresne is relevant to this “charitable purpose”.