This January 22, 2013, is the fortieth anniversary of the landmark United States Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. It is estimated that more than fifty-five million babies had been aborted since Roe was decided. This figure is more than nine times the number of Jewish men, women and children that died in the Nazi-inspired Holocaust. This is why some refer to abortion as the American Holocaust.
The basic philosophy underlining the Court’s decision is the fetus is not legally considered a person until birth and as a result lacks legal protection under the U. S. Constitution. Advances in medical science have made huge strides in neo-natal care challenging the limits of ex utero viability and the advent of sonograms have put a decidedly human face on the developing baby in the womb. For these reasons, the incidence of abortion is on the decline. But a new threat looms.
Two professors, Francesca Minerva at the University of Melbourne and Oxford University and Alberto Giubilini of the University of Milan, published a paper last year in the Journal of Medical Ethics promoting “after-birth abortion.” Among the many arguments put forth by Minerva and Giubilini are “both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons” and “killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be… including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”
You read that right. While the authors make a strong argument for the killing of a newborn with a birth defect, they also make it quite clear it should be permissible to kill a healthy newborn if “the well-being of the family is at risk.” Since a newborn is not “morally relevant” and the newborn cannot “be said to have aims,” it is not an “actual person” and has no right to life. If you think this is an isolated opinion, keep reading.
Consider Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University who has said “killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person.” He is essentially in agreement with Minerva and Giubilini. But this is the same Peter Singer who in an article entitled Heavy Petting advocated sex with animals is ethically permissible as long as it was mutually enjoyed (I know what you are thinking, but that is his position). I know there is a difference between abortion and bestiality. I only mention Singer’s views on bestiality to show you where his ethical mindset is.
The fact that Minerva and Giubilini’s article appeared in an “international peer-reviewed journal” is of some concern. It is indicative of an apparent ongoing debate among medical professionals, and the publishers considered it a worthy topic for public discussion. The issue of infanticide, killing infants, had been practiced in ancient times. Until the recent publication, I thought infanticide was a matter in the ancient past. But the issue has resurfaced and is being given serious consideration among some supposed “ethicists.” An issue I thought had been relegated to a more benighted period of human history has been reborn and reached the light of day.
Early in the debate about abortion opponents argued that legalizing the practice would place our nation on a “slippery slope” of moral decay taking us in a direction and at a speed we would not be able to control. We are no longer on that slippery slope. These “professors of ethics” are suggesting we take a flying leap from the brink of common decency and human dignity into a free fall in an immoral abyss.
In Psalm 139:16 we read, “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” When commenting on this passage of Scripture I see two important points. Life is sacred because it is a gift from God, and life is precious because it is measured. I once thought that those who held a different perspective did not believe in God. I now think I may be wrong; they may believe in God, they just think they are Him.
I guess I always knew there were those who viewed human life in such cold, utilitarian terms. But, I never thought such views would be given a public hearing, or serious consideration. I never thought newborns would be considered expendable.