Recently, the Journal of Medical Ethics caused an uproar when it published an article titled, “After-birth Abortion: Why Should the Baby Live?” News reports initially focused on the short abstract of the article that was available for free online (the full paper cost $30 to purchase, according to one report www.ncregister.com/blog/matthew-archbold/ethicists-argue-for-post-birth-abortions), when the paper was suddenly made available in full shortly after the controversy began. Although I already posted about this story on my Facebook page, I thought it worth looking at the full report for today’s blog and including this link so now you can all read the four-page paper for yourself here (jme.bmj.com/content/early/2012/02/22/medethics-2011-100411.full.pdf+html).
The authors of the paper were Alberto Giubilini, who works with the Centre for Human Bioethics at Monash University in Australia, and Francesca Minerva, who works with the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Their thesis? They believe that parents should be allowed to abort their newborn infants.
The authors stated their argument as follows:
Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled. (p. 1)
Giubilini and Minerva take abortion a step further, arguing that parents should be allowed to abort their newborns. They justify their position by claiming that an infant is not technically a person:
Both a fetus 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’. 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. (p. 2)
At which point do Giubilini and Minerva consider infants to be persons? They declined to say: “we do not put forward any claim about the moment at which after-birth abortion would no longer be permissible” (p. 3).
To give you an idea of just where this sort of thinking leads, consider this paragraph from the article:
Failing to bring a new person into existence cannot be compared with the wrong caused by procuring the death of an existing person. The reason is that, unlike the case of death of an existing person, failing to bring a new person into existence does not prevent anyone from accomplishing any of her future aims. However, this consideration entails a much stronger idea than the one according to which severely handicapped children should be euthanised. If 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, then it should also be permissible to practise an after-birth abortion on ahealthy newborn too, given that she has not formed any aim yet. (p. 2)
What we’re seeing here is what happens when society loses its biblical foundation. Once people abandon a basis in the absolute authority of God’s Word, then moral relativism will permeate the culture. This is what is happening in our once Christianized West. The situation is akin to that described in the book of Judges:
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)
It also reminds me of Isaiah 5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.” These people are so blinded by evil that they believe allowing after-birth abortions will be good for society—that it will be good for parents to be able to abort kill their own newborn children for any reason.
This type of thinking may shock many Christians who understand that all life, both inside and outside of the womb, is precious, but it is not really new. Another “ethicist” named Peter Singer has advocated similar ideas for years. (See Singer, Peter. 1979. Practical Ethics, 1st ed., pp. 122–123. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.) And it won’t just stop at what this article is reporting on—much evil will be claimed as okay as God turns our nations over to judgment because of their rebellion, and as sinful man determines to do what is right in his own eyes.
Romans 1:28–32 delivers the sobering reality of what society will look like when the people willfully reject their Creator. Among other things, they invent ways of doing evil, and even though they know that those who practice such things deserve death, they not only engage in those activities, but approve of those who practice them.
What these two “ethicists” believe about life is exactly contrary to what God teaches about life. The Psalmist praises God, saying, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” God tells Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5). Our God is about life—He values it—and He makes clear in His Word that every person—unborn babies and newborn infants alike—are known by Him and exist from conception.
For more on this shocking pro-infanticide thinking, see today’s News to Note and read the commentary by a medical doctor and AiG researcher, Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,