Journal defends its publication of an article advocating “after-birth abortion”

posted at 6:35 pm on February 28, 2012 by Tina Korbe

The editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics today defended his decision to publish an article in which two ethicists advocated “after-birth abortion.” What was truly surprising about the article, editor Julian Savulescu writes, is not that the authors find infanticide morally permissible — but, rather, that opponents to infanticide would react to the article with vehemence. From Savulescu’s defense:

What is disturbing is not the arguments in this paper nor its publication in an ethics journal. It is the hostile, abusive, threatening responses that it has elicited. More than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.

What the response to this article reveals, through the microscope of the web, is the deep disorder of the modern world. Not that people would give arguments in favour of infanticide, but the deep opposition that exists now to liberal values and fanatical opposition to any kind of reasoned engagement.

Savulescu might have a point that some of the responses to the article crossed the line. Of those he quoted, a couple were overtly racist and at least one was an outright death threat to anyone who would willingly perform an “after-birth abortion.” But that he doesn’t see the arguments forwarded by the authors as evidence of “the deep disorder of the modern world” is far more disturbing than comments thoughtlessly dashed off by justifiably outraged opponents of infanticide. The Blaze outlines the article’s original arguments:

The authors go on to state that the moral status of a newborn is equivalent to a fetus in that it cannot be considered a person in the “morally relevant sense.” On this point, the authors write:

“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.

[...]

Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life. Indeed, many humans are not considered subjects of a right to life: spare embryos where research on embryo stem cells is permitted, fetuses where abortion is permitted, criminals where capital punishment is legal.”

Giubilini and Minerva believe that being able to understand the value of a different situation, which often depends on mental development, determines personhood. For example, being able to tell the difference between an undesirable situation and a desirable one. They note that fetuses and newborns are “potential persons.” The authors do acknowledge that a mother, who they cite as an example of a true person, can attribute “subjective” moral rights to the fetus or newborn, but they state this is only a projected moral status.

Once upon a time, abortion advocates would accuse pro-lifers of “slippery slope logic” when those pro-lifers suggested it was only a matter of time before someone would use the abortion advocates’ arguments to defend infanticide. According to Savulescu, that began to happen a long time ago — and it continues to happen today. Turns out, it is a slippery slope, after all. If humans don’t have a right to life from the moment of conception, when does the right to life kick in? The moment a human becomes a person? When is that? Who determines when? The standard becomes movable — and, consequently, impossible to uphold.


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being able to understand the value of a different situation, which often depends on mental development, determines personhood. For example, being able to tell the difference between an undesirable situation and a desirable one.

But what if we disagree on what is desirable and undesirable. Could Obama conclude that someone who sees his reelection as undesirable when he clearly sees it as desirable is thus incapable of telling a desirable situation fom an undesirable one and thus not entitled to live?

Communist tyrant wannabes like Bill Ayers who think they need to exterminate 10% of the population to establish their communist rule would love these guys.

KW64 on February 28, 2012 at 11:14 PM

First, it isn’t a strawman if someone is actually proposing the idea.

Second… if someone puts this into practice, death THREATS are not enough. Our government was founded on the principle that if a government is not protecting the rights of its citizens, those citizens have a responsibility to take up arms for themselves. If this becomes law, “vigilantism” would be entirely justified. It is NEVER legal to kill an innocent human being, at any stage of development. A government that does not prosecute those who commit infanticide has given the right to execute murderers back to its citizens.

FlareCorran on February 28, 2012 at 11:16 PM

I see that the left hasn’t learned the lesson of Sodom and Gomorrah. A pity that they’ll find it out the hard way.

nobar on February 28, 2012 at 11:16 PM

If God judges the US with social, financial and governmental collapse, who will say “But I trusted the government to do the right thing!” even though we all were given consciences and the right to vote for our own leaders?

National repentance is possible, but time is short.

flicker on February 28, 2012 at 11:02 PM

The battle was lost in the pulpits of America’s churches, not in Washington D.C. Judgement is going to be more sobering than any one of us can imagine.

tom daschle concerned on February 28, 2012 at 11:18 PM

The battle was lost in the pulpits of America’s churches, not in Washington D.C. Judgement is going to be more sobering than any one of us can imagine.

tom daschle concerned on February 28, 2012 at 11:18 PM

For the survivors.

flicker on February 28, 2012 at 11:25 PM

The authors cite Downs Syndrome as an example, stating that while the quality of life of individuals with Downs is often reported as happy, “such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.”

Ah, the Downs Syndrome child is once again used as justification for abortion.

Substituting ‘the authors’ in place of the bolded text above, it reads:

The authors cite the authors as an example, stating that while the quality of life of the authors is often reported as happy, “the authors might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.”

Downs Syndrome children are no longer an unbearable burden on the family and society as a whole. The same can no longer be said about the authors.

Abort the authors after birth. They should be fine with it.

rukiddingme on February 28, 2012 at 11:26 PM

let them kill their children… I’m over caring.

If they want to win the darwin awards I’m not wasting my time stopping them.

Karmashock on February 28, 2012 at 11:29 PM

As they said in Horton Hears a Who

A person is a person no matter how small

tommer74 on February 28, 2012 at 11:33 PM

…one was an outright death threat to anyone who would willingly perform an “after-birth abortion.”

That is the appropriate response to such despicable scum. In fact an after birth abortion performed on Journal of Medical Ethics editor Julian Savulescu is appropriate as well.

woodNfish on February 29, 2012 at 12:07 AM

The left nudges us towards the ledge once more.

The abyss awaits.

squint on February 29, 2012 at 12:07 AM

Sadly tommer, evidently even Dr. Seuss didn’t understand or believe his own writings as I’ve heard that both he and/or his wife were/are pro-choice.

Ironic.

Logus on February 29, 2012 at 12:10 AM

The truth is, it’s a logical step. If you allow that it’s acceptable to kill infants before birth, there’s no logical reason to forbid it after birth. It’s practiced all over the world *today*, in such diverse people groups as the Yanomamo indians of South Africa, the Omo of Ethiopia who are required by tradition to kill ‘unlucky’ children, including those born outside wedlock; and by exposure in China. It’s been practiced in every society in history – Wikipedia has a well documented and extensive article on this, which you can go read if you want to.

We kill babies before they’re born and call it ‘medical’ and ‘health care’ and sanitize it tidily away. But we all know what it is. The only difference between that and this is a single breath. We’re already inured to the killing. Clearly, these people are just a little more inured than the rest of us. It’s easy for them to be. They’ve already been allowed to live.

chotii on February 29, 2012 at 12:42 AM

There are two points:

Should this article have been published? Yes. The world evils should be posted far and wide so that they can be exposed and fought.

Should the editor of the journal be surprised by the backlash? No. People who excuse talking about infanticide as a function of high-minded intellectual debate are showing they have too much time on their hands to think about how many of their friends and neighbors are unworthy of their unalienable rights.

BKennedy on February 29, 2012 at 2:47 AM

I’m gonna say it. Sarah Palin. Her life decisions, specifically concerning Trig, have been noted by others to be an existential threat to leftists. It’s why she had to be destroyed politically.

The Left couldn’t possibly have a politically viable candidate exemplifing all that is right and Holy with Motherhood. Sarah Palin as President would have set back progressivism and liberal feminism at least a hundred years; with modern day social media, the Left would have never recovered.

Jurisprudence on February 29, 2012 at 3:21 AM

If humans don’t have a right to life from the moment of conception, when does the right to life kick in?

I could argue both sides of that question as I’m not aware of any ‘right to life’ since there are so many natural occurrences that seem to fight against that ‘right’.

The abortion movement in America seems to have started off as a movement to reduce the potential population of people of color, but let’s not publish that little fact as it gets in the way of the efforts of under-educated leftists. Besides, they hate it when we allow facts to get in the way of the most approved sacrament of their godless religion.

I fight for those incapable of defending themselves because it assists in the self serving promotion of the future of humanity. Statistics from breeders of animals prove that it takes a large amount of offspring to get the best qualities of any species, but leftists refuse to admit that every time they murder a child they could be killing the next Einstein, Lincoln, Franklin, or Gandhi.

If they are allowed to have their way the promoters of genocide will happily kill off the next Stephen Hawking with the excuse of to his/her ‘birth defects’, thus that path is certain to lead to our very extinction.

DannoJyd on February 29, 2012 at 6:09 AM

Peter Singer, call your office.

What is it about Australian philosophers? Did Mengele spend time teaching there before the Israelis got him?

What is most disturbing s the really prominent forums theses disgusting criminals are given, from which they launch these foul attacks on humanity. Oxford University in this case, Princeton in the case of Singer. Incredible.

MTF on February 29, 2012 at 6:12 AM

let them kill their children… I’m over caring.

If they want to win the darwin awards I’m not wasting my time stopping them.

Karmashock on February 28, 2012 at 11:29 PM

.

This isn’t in substance about killing their children. It’s about population control, about killing other people’s children. And it is not in the final analysis about killing children. It is about killing Americans. The elderly and infirm are also in the gun-sights of the Progressive Left.

.

By publishing this horror in the Journal of Medical Ethics these worthy gentlemen are creating a body of authoritative professional literature that will be available to support healthcare rationing decisions in a single payer healthcare system where the single payer will experience severe liquidity and solvency pressures.

Single payer healthcare bureaucrats, Progressive judges on the courts and others will rely on this body of literature to advance the mechanisms of the Culture of Death. This body of professional literature will be an available and welcome resource for Progressive agitation/propaganda groups such as Media Matters

.

We would do well to recall the publication in the July 1998 issue of the Psychological Bulletin, by psychologists(and homosexual activists) Drs. Bruce Rind, Philip Tromovitch, and Robert Bauserman, of a paper entitled: ” A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples “. The Psychological Bulletin is the premier scientific journal of the American Psychological Association.

Drs. Bruce Rind, Philip Tromovitch, and Robert Bauserman reported that

childhood sexual abuse is only slightly associated with psychological harm, and that harm may not be due to the sexual experience, but to negative family factors in the children’s backgrounds. They also reported that “consenting” boys show no evidence of harm and often have positive reactions to sex with adults. Rind et al. concluded that behavior which professionals commonly term “child sexual abuse” may merely constitute a violation of social norms and should be considered “abuse” only if the child reacts negatively to the encounter. They also advocated less judgmental terminology. For example, a “willing encounter with positive reactions” involving a 9-year-old boy and an adult male, would no longer be considered sexual abuse; instead it would simply be called “adult-child sex,” a value neutral term.

Who here today would not want to pillory anyone who would claim the sexual contact between an adult male and a 9-year old boy, pedophilia, would not be profoundly damaging to the child victim. Yet the APA vigorously defended its publication of this meta-study and IMHO concealed that reality that they were building a similar professional body of literature which would inevitability be used to defend gay pedophiles in the court, in the media and to provide support for efforts to decriminalized pedophilia in the legislative and judicial arenas.

.

Dangerous professional literature such as these may well be inevitable in post-Christian secular cultures.

Mike OMalley on February 29, 2012 at 6:15 AM

Jurisprudence on February 29, 2012 at 3:21 AM

IMHO, the reason that the GOP elitists and the Communist Democrats went after Sarah is because she was [and still is] an exceptional individual who remains capable of fighting against the corruption in all levels of government while promoting projects that keep our country great.

Strong women scare most Americans because they shine a light on the laziness most here practice, and doubly so when those people are politicians at risk of getting exposed for their greedy anti-American activities.

America always gets the government it deserves.

DannoJyd on February 29, 2012 at 6:16 AM

Liberalism is a mental disorder.

Can’t be repeated often enough.

HumpBot Salvation on February 29, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Liberalism is a mental disorder.

Can’t be repeated often enough.

HumpBot Salvation on February 29, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Especially since nothing “liberals” advocate is liberating.

darwin on February 29, 2012 at 8:17 AM

proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.

When murdering newborn babies is one of the “values” of a liberal society, is it really “fanatical” to be opposed to it?

AZCoyote on February 29, 2012 at 8:22 AM

So, using this thinking, those women who gave birth and throw their baby in the dumpster will have commited no crime.And by all means, let’s characterize those opposed to such practice as deranged. Liberals have no shame.

Ken James on February 29, 2012 at 8:38 AM

Pro-infanticide “ethicists” are creepy but consistent. Pro-lifers have been pointing out this logic for a long time, although we draw the opposite conclusion: Abortion and infanticide are wrong because they kill innocent but unwanted human beings. (It is a scientific fact that the unborn are human beings. Check out any mainstream embryology textbook.)

eMatters on February 29, 2012 at 8:43 AM

“That’s all above my pay grade.” BHO

pambi on February 29, 2012 at 8:46 AM

I keep hearing Prez Zero in debates, when faced with his ‘infanticide’ vote …
“that’s above my paygrade, but ethicists agree….. ”
I question the timing.
Shivers.

pambi on February 29, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Have these ethicists decided when it is that we can confer person hood on a baby? It seems they all want to wait awhile to make sure the newborn is viable which is what they used to say about a baby in the womb. I remember watching a scifi movie years ago about life on this planet in the future. It seems the rulers would allow a child to live until 14 with the parents and then take the smartest ones and put them into schools to learn medicine, law, and other professions, unless they were too smart and they were put to sleep. A father was concerned his son was too smart but in the end he couldn’t save him. At the time, I thought Hollywood had gone too far but it seems we have been progressing toward this all along.

Kissmygrits on February 29, 2012 at 9:38 AM

It sounds to me more like the authors are pro-life and they are making this absurd and outlandish claim about personhood in order to show how wrong abortion is. It’s the old Rush Limbaugh tactic of “illustrating absurdity by being absurd.”

dczombie on February 29, 2012 at 9:42 AM

If you don’t want to have an abortion kill a child, I will respect that choice.

keep the change on February 28, 2012 at 7:19 PM

FIFY, man up and call it what it is.

StompUDead on February 29, 2012 at 10:12 AM

What we have going for us in the U.S.A. is the 2nd Amendment, we can fend off the ghouls. What the Commonwealth’s of Great Britain have against them, for instance, in England, the population is disarmed.

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.
Mao Tse-Tung

This article was just eugenicist testing the waters. Testing what the current public blow back is to infanticide.

Dr Evil on February 29, 2012 at 10:22 AM

“after-birth abortion.”

Here, I’ll save you the Orwell:

Murder.

Asurea on February 29, 2012 at 11:06 AM

Reading this article, the word “newborn” is a word I see as an issue. When I hear the word newborn, that means that the baby was delivered successfully. Now, if women have the right to “abort” or kill a newborn, doesn’t this make us worse than China, who abort when they find out that the fetus isn’t male? What about the mentally retarded? Or the radical Muslims who live in America and believe they have a right to kill their children when they disobey them?

djaymick on February 29, 2012 at 11:08 AM

I say put a 3-year limit on it. After 3 years, you can’t murder them without some consequence.

NotEasilyFooled on February 29, 2012 at 11:41 AM

I say put a 3-year limit on it. After 3 years, you can’t murder them without some consequence.

NotEasilyFooled on February 29, 2012 at 11:41 AM

3 years? Fine. Let’s say three years. Who says we won’t change it to four? Or five? Or 18? Who gets to decide? Based on what criteria?

gryphon202 on February 29, 2012 at 12:04 PM

The moral code has always been a slippery slope. What the ethicists are describing is more of the position involved with ‘Situational Ethics’ than with an Absolutist Ethical Position.

He who has the most power, either in terms of weapons, gold or ‘religious’ philosophy make most of the ethical decisions. Period. Mankind is still very much subject to the same interactions driving all living organizms on earth: Eat or Be Eaten. That’s what we’ll have to deal with in a meaningful way, maybe sooner than we want.

dahni on February 29, 2012 at 12:21 PM

What if your lovely child grows up to be an arrogant elitist philosopher? Actually, letting go might not be so hard in that circumstance.

What do the pro-choicers call it when they deem a baby as “less” and therefore expendable? Oh yes, it’s a “hearbreaking choice”. What a clever way of making the murderous parent look like the victim.

It is that twisted state of mind that allows these “ethicists” to have foothold.

mojowt on February 29, 2012 at 1:01 PM

It’s so sad to see anyone who considers the act of killing a child acceptable.

Where are the child protective services? Where are the police? Why aren’t these people being prosecuted for crimes against humanity?

jackal40 on February 29, 2012 at 1:02 PM

It absolutely breaks my heart to think that my country is becoming the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany, Red China and the Soviet Union right before my eyes. I have tears in my eyes as I wright this.

PleaseFlyOver on February 29, 2012 at 1:26 PM

While infanticide has been widely practiced in human history and still exists today, before the 21st century there was (almost?) no known record of “gay marriage” in the sense we think of it today.

And my point is…? I’m not sure. Just thought it bears mention that what we consider behavior that is at least debatable as opposed to completely and morally out of bounds is a reflection of the society in which we live.

bobs1196 on February 29, 2012 at 1:35 PM

First, DO NO HARM. (except to very small, helpless, defenseless, innocent PEOPLE)

StevC on February 29, 2012 at 2:24 PM

After birth abortion? Pre-death death next. How many years prior to natural death can we facilitate the process?

RUReady2RNR on February 29, 2012 at 2:28 PM

Tina of the short skirt just discovered a straw man where all prolife fanatics can now strike with glee! GO!

nathor on February 28, 2012 at 6:41 PM

I don’t see you on a whole lot of other threads.
But you’re always present on an abortion thread.
Which leads me to believe, based on your comments & presence, you take some sort of pleasure in this subject of killing.

I don’t see you with frequency on the others. Just seems to be these threads.
All the time.
Interesting.

Badger40 on February 29, 2012 at 2:29 PM

Badger40 on February 29, 2012 at 2:29 PM

It also seems to appear when there is a chance that it can slam Christianity and maybe score a point for atheists…

rhbandsp on February 29, 2012 at 3:02 PM

I found the logic in this statement to be quite sound.

Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr. writes: “The underlying premise in the arguments pro-abortionists give against fetal personhood is that non-persons can change into persons. They are saying that a living being can undergo a radical, essential change in its nature during its lifetime. But there is a logical problem here. If the change was biologically inevitable from conception, given time, then this change is not a change in essential nature. This is because if the being naturally initiates the change,
It must be in its nature from the beginning to do so. If it is in its nature to do so, then despite any changes in such characteristics as independence, place of residence, physical development, or demonstration of mental ability, what the being is in later life is what the being is from the beginning of its life. This means that if we are persons with the right to be free from aggression later in life, we are persons even at conception. A False Assumption,” Libertarians for Life

Irenaeus on February 29, 2012 at 6:33 PM

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