Russian Journalist Sparks Furor by Suggesting Infanticide for Disabled Newborns

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 8, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Russian Journalist Sparks Furor by Suggesting Infanticide for Disabled Newborns

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 8
, 2010

Moscow, Russia ( — A Russian journalist has sparked furor by suggesting that newborn children who are mentally disabled should be killed. Aleksandr Nikonov wrote an article titled "Finish Them Off, So They Don’t Suffer," which called "post-natal abortion" an act of mercy.

Nikonov argues that the birth of a disabled child for many families would be an unbearable tragedy, “a hell”, and that “the killing of the newborn is in fact the same as an abortion."

He says depriving infants, who will never be able to take care of themselves, of life is “true humanism" and calls to give parents of such children a right to euthanize their newborns in the same way the elderly are killed in euthanasia.

Nikonov, who writes for the popular tabloid Speed-Info,also used the word "debil" — a deeply offensive term in Russian — to characterize children with developmental disabilities.

Now, Radio Free Europe reports that Snezhana Mitina, the Russian mother of a child with a developmental disability wants to sue Nikonov.

Mitina, and a friend, Svetlana Shtarkova, who is also the mother of a disabled child, filed a complaint with the Russian Union of Journalists against Nikonov. RFE says she is more concerned about raising the issue of caring for such children rather than punishing Nikonov.

"The opinion expressed by the author is not unique; statistics show that one-fourth of Russians share similar views," Shtarkova told RFE. "Complete strangers come up to me in the street and tell me that I’m depraved and deserve my fate. Doctors and social workers refuse to do their jobs, just because my child is severely disabled."

Pyotr Kucherenko, an attorney for the women, says Nokonov’s ideas too closely resemble those of Nazi Germany — where disabled people were killed in order to purify the German race.

Nikonov made light of the comparison in an RFE interview.

"Let me introduce myself: I am Adolf Hitler. This is the way people want to portray me," Nikonov says. "But the real bastards are those who tell me, ‘Yes, it is good and fair that people are in pain. We’ll look on and say people can suffer, as long as our scholarly conception of humaneness is not affected.’ To hell with you. People shouldn’t suffer. This is my opinion, and you won’t shut me up."

Union of Journalists sided with the families and ruled that they could write a rebuttal in the same publication.

The call to kill unborn children in infanticide is not new as Peter Singer, a Princeton professor, argued years ago that infanticide is acceptable because babies are not persons.

Singer stated that parents should be allowed to kill a baby with hemophilia if they believed that doing so "would lead to the birth of another infant with better prospects of a happy life."

The problem with Singer is Nikonov is that they don’t just represent ideas but their approach is becoming part of societal thinking.

"Eugenic infanticide has become almost common in the Netherlands, with two studies in the Lancet revealing that 8% of all infants who die there are killed by doctors—about 90 such murders per year, all with the support of the Dutch Medical Association," writes American bioethicist Wesley J. Smith.

"Cognitively devastated human patients, most famously illustrated by the Terri Schiavo debacle, are dehydrated to death by removing tube sustenance based on quality of life judgments," he adds.

And "Futile Care Theory, allowing doctors to refuse wanted life sustaining treatment, again based on quality of life, is the law in Texas and other states," Smith continues.

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