“Rather than being ‘actual persons’, newborns were ‘potential persons’. 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’.” ¹
This quote is from a controversial article in The Journal of Medical Ethics, authored by medical ethicists at Oxford University named Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva. It made popular rounds on social media sites through an article in The Telegraph. ²
The main point of Drs. Giubilini and Minerva seems to be that imperfect infants should be allowed to be terminated on the basis that they are broken and an “unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.” ¹ In other words, if the human life costs valuable resources to maintain and won’t contribute back to the society in valued, measured ways, the life is not worth enough to maintain and should be allowed to be thrown away without repercussions.
This would target any child with any genetic disease or disorder, like Down syndrome.In the mind of some, these babies cause a drain on society: they live, they don’t work, they don’t contribute, and they suck money away from healthy humans.
Drs. Giubilini and Minerva’s opinion is nothing new. Claire Rayner wrote an article inThe Independent’s Opinion section back in 1995. She states that she wants to give parents the right to choose whether or not they want to burden themselves and others with their baby’s syndrome.
“The hard facts are that it is costly in terms of human effort, compassion, energy, and finite resources such as money, to care for individuals with handicaps… People who are not yet parents should ask themselves if they have the right to inflict such burdens on others, however willing they are themselves to take their share of the burden in the beginning. “³
Rayner’s argument does not favor the position of those who wish to keep their child.She ends this paragraph with, “The right to choose implies the duty to choose as unselfishly as possible, surely?” ³
This implication will undoubtedly become an expectation if after-birth abortion comes into effect, especially if language like “if [parents] have the right to inflict” is used.That phrase casts blame on the parents who are willing to keep a disabled child, as they are allowing their child to inflict others with the child’s less-than-perfect existence. It won’t be long before their decision to keep their baby is frowned upon by the general masses rather than pitied.
The medical world has a knack for catching the attention of the media, for good or ill.In this regard, politicians and pro-abortionists will play this angle and prey on ill-informed fears and misconceptions by claiming that disabled children take valuable resources from healthy children; your healthy children. We are all directly or indirectly affected by the “unbearable burdens” of disabled children.
The most alarming aspect of the article by Drs. Giubilini and Minerva is that it doesn’t just stop at babies with health issues. “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.” ¹
This is where the pro-abortionists seem to depart from their original claims. Most in favor of abortion claim that killing fetuses is not like killing a person because the baby is dependent on the mother and therefore not a separate being. Once the child is born, it ceases to become a “choice” and becomes a human. The pro-abortionists believe that life can be forfeit even after the child is brought to term on the basis that a child is human, but not a person with automatic values and rights.
“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.”¹
“Rather than being ‘actual persons’, newborns were ‘potential persons’. 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’.”¹
‘Merely being human’ extends to an alarming number of people when brought to its full logical context.
What’s next? Our country would save millions of dollars of funding by stopping research on Alzheimer’s patients and “compassion killing” those patients instead. After all, the sick and elderly eat away at our medical costs and they hardly provide useful substance to our society. According to the logic of Drs. Giubilini and Minerva, sick elderly patients and the mentally disturbed might not even be considered persons.They define a ‘person’ as “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.” ¹ Will the sick and elderly be denied a say in the matter and treated as infants on the basis that they do not offer “basic value”?
In the 1800’s, slave owners enslaved and murdered the Africans on the basis that they were less than human. In the 1900’s, the Nazis blamed the economic distress of Germany on the “genetically impure” Jews, who were then systematically murdered.In the 2000’s, the world murders innocent children in the womb and considers murdering newborns on the basis that a baby is only a “potential person” and not an “actual person”. How far will we go? Who will determine what makes a human a “person” with a “moral right to life”?
There are whole foundations dedicated to remembering the horror behind the genocide committed by our forefathers, and yet the idea of after-birth abortion is proposed and seriously considered. Humans are repeating history by making the same basic mistake of devaluing a human’s life and finding that to be a good enough reason to kill him.
As Dr. Cox states so eloquently in the Scrubs Pilot episode, “Pumpkin, that’s modern medicine. Bureaucratic nightmares, paperwork out the a–, and advances that keep people alive who should have died years ago, back when they lost what made them people.” ⁴
What will our country do about the after-birth abortion proposition? How will the medical community respond in the next few years? The editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics, Prof. Julian Savulescu, said, “The journal would consider publishing an article positing that, if there was no moral difference between abortion and killing newborns, then abortion too should be illegal.”² This is a good point, and it’s not clear if he intended to make this point or not. If our country responds and says that after-birth abortion is horrible, then shouldn’t that negate the logic behind abortion?
Abortion has always been political and it has ultimately been about convenience and money. There are two things that I’ve noticed about the articles by Drs. Giubilini and Minerva and Claire Rayner: they both come down to defining these children as unacceptable burdens, and they are not the original proponents of after-birth abortion.
These people did not come up with their ideas all by themselves. In fact, their ideas can be chillingly logical if viewed from the mindset that life without acceptable purpose is not to be valued. You will find some extremely consistent people who believe genetically imperfect babies should be terminated, the sick should be put down, and the elderly disposed of. This is nothing new.
So where do we draw the line? Can our country continue to believe that it can both value life and destroy it? We will find that we must accept all or nothing. What after-birth abortion comes down to is this: A child is not worth protecting if it somehow doesn’t have the potential to aid those who decide its fate.
The world has never deteriorated into this mindset. It has always been hypocritical: it will protect three-legged puppies and turn around to murder the Down syndrome baby. The people who propose murder will always consider that their good fortune — their sound, reasoning mind — is somehow their own doing, as if they created themselves in their mother’s womb and now have the right to decide the fate of children in the wombs of others.
Let this article serve as a warning to us. The world has always found ways to commit the same evil under a different name by blaming the victims. This name is now known as “after-birth abortion”. Don’t be fooled — it is nothing less than genocide.The question is: will you fight it?
¹Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” Journal of Medical Ethics (2012).http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2012/03/01/medethics-2011-100411.full
² Stephen Adams, “Killing babies no different from abortion, experts say.” The Telegraph (2012). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9113394/Killing-babies-no-different-from-abortion-experts-say.html
³ Claire Rayner, “ANOTHER VIEW: A duty to choose unselfishly. ” The Opinion section of The Independent (1995). http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/another-view-a-duty-to-choose-unselfishly-1588540.html
⁴ “Simply Scripts: Scrubs Pilot.” http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/scrubs-pilot.pdf
(This blog post was originally posted on March 12, 2012 on the original The God Files blog.)