Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Infanticide As A Right: Killing Babies No Different From Abortion, "Experts" Say?

Holy Hippocrates...

This is nihilism at its finest. This is what happens when "education" turns into madness. Infanticide of newborns becomes a right:

The Telegraph
Feb. 29, 2012

Parents should be allowed to have their newborn babies killed because they are “morally irrelevant” and ending their lives is no different to abortion, a group of medical ethicists linked to Oxford University has argued.

The article, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, says newborn babies are not “actual persons” and do not have a “moral right to life”. The academics also argue that parents should be able to have their baby killed if it turns out to be disabled when it is born.

The journal’s editor, Prof Julian Savulescu, director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, said the article's authors had received death threats since publishing the article. He said those who made abusive and threatening posts about the study were “fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society”.

The article, entitled “After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?”, was written by two of Prof Savulescu’s former associates, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva.

They argued: “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”

Rather than being “actual persons”, newborns were “potential persons”. They explained: “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’.

My observations:

1. These medical ethicists should keep their "ethics" within their own families.

2. One wonders if the current non-consensual human subjects experimentation known as "health IT" is justified by the same "ethicists."

-- SS

Addendum March 1, 2012:

We've been here before.

From another blog: Tacitus, a.k.a Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus (AD 56 – AD 117) was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. Tacitus criticized the "rebels" of the time for, among other things, their refusal to kill newly born babies: . See section 5.

Such a practice was apparently no big deal then.

This "ethics" proposed at Oxford represents a return to uncivilizedness.

-- SS


Anonymous said...

This is what we have come too.

Steve Lucas

Anonymous said...

Wikipedia's definition of Medical Ethics ( is:

"Medical ethics is a system of moral principles that apply values and judgments to the practice of medicine. As a scholarly discipline, medical ethics encompasses its practical application in clinical settings as well as work on its history, philosophy, theology, and sociology."

Based on this definition, readers of a good medical ethics journal should be able to find guidance for making ethically challenging healthcare decisions.

This JME article Dr. Silverstein cites is available online for free, in full text ( This is apparently in attempts by JME's senior editor to dispel misunderstanding and reduce violent attacks (online and offline) on the journal's authors. Initially, readers could only view the abstract for free, which emphasized the authors conclusions much more than the arguments leading to those conclusions. I feel the conclusions are biased, even though the authors cite no competing interests.

I agree with the authors that when their very limited (and disagreeable) definitions of 'person' are applied logically, the moral right of an unborn fetus to life is just as nonexistent as the moral right of a newborn to life. I agree with the authors' idea that healthcare practitioners, and family members, should be consistent in their application of ethical principles to healthcare decisions.

Their point that some healthcare practitioners, healthcare organizations, and governments are being ethically inconsistent in supporting fetal abortion, but not post-natal abortion, makes some sense to me. But there is another side to this coin. To solve the 'inconsistent application of ethical principles' problem for right-to-life questions of pre- and post-natal humans, one can: (1) Accept the authors' definitions and assumptions of 'person', and support pre- and post-natal abortion together, or (2) replace the authors' definitions/assumptions with ones supporting pre-natal right to life, argue logically for post-natal right to life, and adopt/mandate healthcare practices that support pre- and post- natal rights to life, together. The authors' arguments disfavor an either-or outcome.

To me, the real medical ethics problem in the US healthcare system today is that it cares for a nation of citizens and leaders with widely varying degrees of consensus on moral truths, definitions, or assumptions that underly healthcare practices. That's not new. The goal of separation of Church (including practice of religious beliefs involving 'rights' of a divine Creator of persons) from State, in US healthcare, is something I don't see as logically consistent with key statements made the Declaration of Independence surrounding the endowment of people with an inalienable right to life by a 'Creator'. Belief in a divine Creator is very religious. Perhaps if government (and of course leaders who care more about their salaries than the health of patients) stayed out of healthcare, a US healthcare organization could actually achieve autonomous ethical consistency in the way medicine is practiced, aligning ethical decisions on a set ethical principles shared and mandated within the healthcare organization.

If pre-natal and post-natal abortion of potential persons are being advocated, as a pair, by the article's authors, then experimentation against same is probably something that can be argued for in a medical ethics journal.

When questions of a person's value, or rights, are raised in healthcare decision-making situations where the person is not present, informed, or otherwise capable to influence the outcome, it seems to me that there is more risk that the healthcare outcome will more akin to what a "potential person" could experience.

InformaticsMD said...

Re: Anonymous March 1, 2012 9:39:00 AM EST

I thank you for your well thought out argument.

I have a more terse point of view:

There are some issues that merit nor require debate.

Jumping off cliffs as a health maintenance measure is one.

Killing newborns at our whim is another.

I won't even go to where such an accommodation could lead, because it's obvious.

There is no justification for a return to barbaric practices such as that.

There is nothing to argue and nothing to debate on that point.

-- SS