SMITH: Premeditated murder of newborns

Ethics askew when dispatching babies seen as morally equivalent to abortion

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Late last month, two bioethicists - Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva - published an outrageous “paper” in the Journal of Medical Ethics justifying the deliberate, premeditated murder of newborn babies during the first days and weeks after birth.

Mr. Giubilini and Ms. Minerva wrote “when circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.”

If a newly born child poses an economic burden on a family, is disabled or is unwanted, that child can be murdered in cold blood because the baby lacks intrinsic value and, according to the professors, is not a person.

Mr. Giubilini and Ms. Minerva wrote, “Actual people’s well-being could be threatened by the new (even if healthy) child requiring energy, money and care which the family might happen to be in short supply of.”

As any parents - especially moms - will tell you, children in general and newborns in particular require enormous energy, money and boatloads of love. If any of these are lacking or pose what the authors called a “threat,” does that justify a death sentence?

Are the lives of newborn babies so cheap? Are babies so expendable?

The murder of newly born children is further justified by Mr. Giubilini and Ms. Minerva because newborn infants, like their slightly younger sisters and brothers in the womb, “cannot have formed any aim that she is prevented from accomplishing.”

In other words, no dreams, no plans for the future, no “aims” that can be discerned, recognized or understood by adults means no life.

This preposterous, arbitrary and evil prerequisite for the attainment of legal personhood is not only bizarre, it is inhumane in the extreme. Stripped of its pseudo-intellectual underpinnings, the Giubilini and Minerva rationale for murdering newborns in the nursery is indistinguishable from the motive of any other child predator wielding a knife or gun.

The authors say the devaluation of newborn babies is inextricably linked to the devaluation of unborn children, and is indeed the logical extension of the abortion culture. They “propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion,’ rather than ‘infanticide,’ to emphasize that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus. … Whether she will exist is exactly what our choice is about.”

These anti-child, pro-murder rationalizations remind me of other, equally disturbing rants from highly credentialed individuals. Princeton University’s Peter Singer suggested a couple of years ago, “There are various things you could say that are sufficient to give some moral status [to a child] after a few months, maybe six months or something like that, and you get perhaps to full moral status, really, only after two years.”

James Watson, Nobel laureate for unraveling the mystery of DNA, wrote in Prism magazine, “If a child were not declared alive until three days after birth, then all parents could be allowed the choice only a few are given under the present system. The doctor could allow the child to die if the parents so choose and save a lot of misery and suffering. I believe this view is the only rational, compassionate attitude to have.”

In like manner, Francis Crick, who received the Nobel Prize with Mr. Watson, said, “No newborn infant should be declared human until it has passed certain tests regarding its genetic endowment and that if it fails these tests, it forfeits the right to live.”

The dehumanization of newborns isn’t new but it’s getting worse.

Mr. Giubilini and Ms. Minerva’s article must be a wake-up call. The lives of young children - an unprotected class - are under assault. Hard questions need to be asked and answered, and defenders of life must mobilized. We have a duty to protect the weakest and most vulnerable from violence.

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