Bye-bye, baby! 7

This is from the Telegraph:

The article, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, says newborn babies are not “actual persons” and do not have a “moral right to life”. The academics also argue that parents should be able to have their baby killed if it turns out to be disabled when it is born.

Before you say “Oh well, if it’s disabled …” please read on.

The article, entitled After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?, was written by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva.

They argued: “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”

Rather than being “actual persons”, newborns were “potential persons”. They explained: “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.”

Note the “her”. If that was the only word you read in their manifesto of death, you’d know they were a pair of politically correct lefties.

As such they argued it was “not possible to damage a newborn by preventing her from developing the potentiality to become a person in the morally relevant sense”.

Death – you must understand – is no damage at all to someone “becoming a person”.

The authors therefore concluded 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”.

They also argued that parents should be able to have the baby killed …

Note now the distance put between the condemners to death and the executioners. Just give the order, have it taken away to be done in, and think no more about it.

… if it turned out to be disabled without their knowing before birth, for example citing that “only the 64 per cent of Down’s syndrome cases” in Europe are diagnosed by prenatal testing.

Once such children were born there was “no choice for the parents but to keep the child”, they wrote.“To bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.”

“When the state provides …” Sure, let the state provide for you, and you are its thing. It can do what it will with you and your child. If a family cannot afford to keep a child, there is the possibility of finding foster parents or would-be adopters, but if the state has the final say … bye-bye, baby!

Well, in such a society, one in which the individual is a thing belonging to the state, maybe it is best to have no babies.

Is death preferable to slavery? Discuss.

Then back to the Telegraph’s report on the ideology of Giubilini and Minerva:

They did not argue that some baby killings were more justifiable than others – their fundamental point was that, morally, there was no difference to abortion as already practised.

They preferred to use the phrase “after-birth abortion” rather than “infanticide” to “emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus”.

… Minerva was a research associate at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics until last June, when she moved to the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at Melbourne University.

Ah, “practical ethics”. None of your airy-fairy theories about right and wrong. It’s what’s practical that counts. If you don’t like the baby, why keep it? If the state’s budget for babies is all used up, away with this one.

And “public ethics”. There’s a phrase to conjure with. A whole “public” can now be deemed to have a conscience, to think, to arrive at a justifiable conclusion. Such a public we need to meet! A many-bodied monster with one head.

What Melbourne University means, of course, is a bunch of academics deciding what is good for “the public”. We’d rather meet the monster than the academics. We might call it “God”, just for fun.

Giubilini … too has gone on to Melbourne … to the city’s Monash University.

Defending [his] decision [to republish the article] in a British Medical Journal blog, Professor Savulescu said that arguments in favour of killing newborns were “largely not new”. What Minerva and Giubilini did was apply these arguments “in consideration of maternal and family interests”.

And the interests of the state.

While accepting that many people would disagree with their arguments, he wrote: “The goal of the Journal of Medical Ethics is not to present the Truth or promote some one moral view. It is to present well reasoned argument based on widely accepted premises.”

“Well reasoned arguments”: If your baby is a bother to you (or the state), it’s okay to kill it.

“Widely accepted premises”: If your baby is a bother to you (or the state), it’s okay to kill it.

But wait. It’s not the child you should feel sorry for – it’s Minerva and Giubilini who need your compassionate concern. Apparently the authors – former associates of the good professor – have been receiving death threats provoked by the publication of their article.

The journal’s editor, [that same] Prof Julian Savulescu, director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, said the article’s authors had received death threats since publishing the article. He said those who made abusive and threatening posts about the study were “fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society”.

“The very values of a liberal society”. If you don’t think parents should be allowed by law to call the exterminators and have the baby collected for the gas oven or whatever, you are opposed to the very values of a liberal society. Good grief – don’t you understand that approving the extermination of unwanted babies is the very essence of  liberal values? The contemporary liberal society is defined by that approval. Tolerance and open-mindedness are defined by it. Community co-operation is defined by it. To be opposed to it is wildly abnormal. Only sociopaths and fanatics would go so far as to raise an objection.

[Professor Savulescu] added: “This “debate” has been an example of “witch ethics” – a group of people know who the witch is and seek to burn her. It is one of the most dangerous human tendencies we have. It leads to lynching and genocide. Rather than argue and engage, there is a drive to silence and, in the extreme, kill, based on their own moral certainty. That is not the sort of society we should live in.”

See – he’s against extremism. He’s against killing. He’s against people acting on their own moral certainty.

So no doubt are Minerva and Guibilini.

If you thought otherwise, you must be not just illiberal and fanatical, but unable to comprehend a simple text written in plain English.


Note: We dealt with the Giubilini and Minerva thesis when it was first published. See our post The Nazi ethics of the left, March 5, 2012.

Posted under Commentary, Ethics by Jillian Becker on Saturday, August 10, 2013

Tagged with , , ,

This post has 7 comments.

  • Philo Vaihinger

    They are making up a new morality to suit themselves and it’s as bizarre as the Christian one it’s replacing.

    They demand global and domestic altruism from the rich, the white, the Christian, and the Occidental.

    But women must be allowed the most cruel personal selfishness.


      Personally, I feel that if a person can be conceived, he/she has been given a chance at living, until he/she proves otherwise by his/her degree of aggression towards themselves or other thinking persons.

  • psittacus

    Peter Singer must be getting around. He’s one person who’s advocated for after birth abortions. Singer has had sad associations with people like Dawkins & other notable atheists. In a recent debate between Dinesh D’Souza and David Silverman, Silverman claimed that Dinesh was wrong about Singer – but Dinesh wasn’t wrong in this case. Silverman’s group is in my view also heavily leftist, pro-gay, and anti-family. They assume that being an atheist automatically means you love gay marriage and the whole socially-leftist agenda. Some similar atheist groups work to “debunk” opposition to social liberalism – but they’ve just glommed onto the meme set of a death cult – the liberal death cult (LDC).

    One key point is that religion is a natural phenomenon. So, social conservatism is not ceded per se just to religions. We as humans get to state what our morals are, and to make rules according to our morals, beliefs, and built in proclivities. Life is one such key & thankful proclivity.

  • liz

    Yes, one of the “most dangerous tendencies we have” is to “kill, based on (our) own moral certainty.” Which is most perfectly illustrated in the proposal to kill infants by Minerva and Guibilini, based on their own “moral certainty”.
    Not only by their complete lack of morals, which they attempt to pass off as “morals”, but by arrogantly presuming to impose these “morals” on the rest of society, they epitomize the Left.
    Leftists are the first to scream when some “right” -real or imagined – has been violated (IF it fits in with their agenda), but have no qualms about not only violating the rights of, but completely snuffing out, those inconvenient to their agenda. (Such as infants inconvenient to them, or women inconvenient to their peaceful Muslim brothers).

  • jodo

    These two doctors state in the article that this is a discussion for the sole purpose of debate and not their personal views. What does this have to do with atheism or conservative views?

    It looks to me like you are capitalizing on misrepresentation. I wonder why you would do that?

    • C. Gee

      What a preposterous comment. Are you being arch?
      1. The doctors’ discussion of infanticide will be used to support policy-making, whether or not that is their stated purpose in writing it. By clearing the moral objections to an extension of abortion, they are freeing the policy makers to extend ‘parental’ rights to kill their children. But if their ostensible purpose is to spark “debate”, then we are entering in the debate to point out that they have not eliminated moral scruples.
      2. If professional ethicists are not expressing personal views what views are they expressing? Objective views? The views that are sitting in a file – labeled “applied consequentialism”- representing the correct rational answers to moral hypothetical dilemmas that we mere amateur ethicists are inclined to get wrong? You know the sort: if you can pull a lever to save five people, but will kill one if you do, do you pull the lever? If law is to no longer be normative, then the choice-architect nudgers (Cass Sunstein’s regulators) will need the professional ethicists to rationalize away the idea that the state can be immoral. They dress up as individual choice a population control policy identical in effect to the Chinese-style one-child policy – which resulted in the millions of forced abortions and voluntary infanticide (usually of girl babies).
      3. Atheism – the non-belief in God – can sensitize the atheist to new form of shamans: in this case professional practical ethicists. No power should be given to these poseurs to set a seal of approval on infanticide: “this practice meets the standards of the Department of Public Ethics.”
      4. Conservatism is traditionally against infanticide. Libertarians may support the right of the parents – mother – to kill a new-born as the new-born is property. (Up to what age? ) Children always pose a problem to libertarianism. The debate of what interest the state has in culling its population is particularly interesting for conservatives. Why should the socialist utilitarian promotion of killing the new generation and replacing it with immigrants to bear the burden of funding the welfare state for the older generation and themselves not be examined critically?
      5. How is this post ‘capitalizing’ on this argument for infanticide? And would it matter if it did? Blogging requires grist to its mill. How does it “misrepresent” the argument?

    • Jillian Becker

      I cannot improve on C.Gee’s reply, only endorse it.

      Here is what another academic has to say: It is by Tom Bartlett, from “Champions of Infanticide? 2 Bioethicists Find the
      Question Is More Than Academic” (March 2, 2012), and you’ll find the whole thing here:

      “So how do Giubilini and Minerva think the media have
      mischaracterized their argument? The authors complain that they do not, in fact, think that euthanasia of children should be “permissible for months or years,” only shortly after birth.

      “I’m willing to bet right now that such a caveat will do
      little to stem the outrage. Specifying that you’re arguing for the killing of newborns rather than toddlers is a distinction that’s likely to persuade only a select few.

      “The authors also make clear that this is not a legislative
      proposal. They’re not going door-to-door with a petition to do away with the recently born. In their non-apology apology, they write that they’re making these arguments in an “academic sense” and that they’re not telling anyone what they “should” do.

      “That very word—should—shows up in the last sentence of their
      paper. People, they write, “should be given the chance of not being forced to do something they cannot afford,” a roundabout way of saying that if a mother is too poor or too distressed to raise the baby she’s given birth to, then it’s ethically OK for the baby to be killed.

      “As for whether this is simply academic, the paper’s argument
      is rooted in real-world examples, like the law in the Netherlands that permits euthanasia for very ill infants. If policy makers took the paper seriously, and found its arguments persuasive, isn’t it
      at least conceivable that it might then lead to actual changes in policy? Is it really crazy to think they meant what they wrote?”