On February 23, two “ethicists” published an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics arguing for “after-birth abortion.” In their words, “killing a newborn” should be “permissible in all cases where abortion is [permissible], including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”
It’s hard to know what is more disturbing. That two “ethicists” would argue for the killing of newborns for any reason, or that a well-known journal would publish such a heinous suggestion.
The idea itself is not new. For years “bioethicist” Peter Singer has stated that newborns lack the essential characteristics of persons, and therefore “killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living.”
Indeed, infanticide goes back centuries. Child sacrifice to supernatural forces was practiced in ancient Carthage. The Bible records that Pharaoh ordered that all Hebrew baby boys be thrown into the Nile. Similarly, King Herod ordered the murder of all boys under two years of age after the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
Today, we see infanticide most predominately in cultures where male children are more revered than female children. News reports frequently point to the problem of female infanticide in China and India. In July, CNN reported that “killing of infants” is also “on the rise in Pakistan.” And nine out of ten babies killed there are girls.
But we look at those practices with abhorrence, because we know newborns are persons. Scientifically speaking, there is no debate that a newborn baby (or an unborn baby, for that matter) possesses the DNA of a human being. Just as a newly hatched bird is a bird (and not something less than a bird), a newly born human is a homo sapien. A person.
If “after-birth abortion” is “permissible,” where does it stop? Given the brutal realities of what is taking place in China and India and elsewhere, what these ethicists are supporting is “gendercide.” A legal, “permitted” assault on female babies.
In fact, these “ethicists” stated plainly that killing a newborn should be an option whether or not the child is disabled. So certainly there would be no protection for disabled babies, or deformed babies, or babies who just aren’t as “cute” as their parents had hoped. And given the incredibly broad abortion license in the United States, babies could be killed for any reason: “physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age.” Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179, 192 (1973).
What these “ethicists” invariably show is that “legal” abortion itself cannot be contained. Once killing a “fetus” was legally permitted, society numbed to the killing of all persons. As Mother Teresa said in her 1979 Nobel Prize lecture, “[Abortion] is the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child—what is left for me to kill you and you kill me—there is nothing between.”