The GRIZZLY, BRAVE NEW WORLD OF MEDICAL “ETHICS”
The abstract below comes from this month’s Journal of Medical Ethics, a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. It embodies the icy, amoral detachment of utilitarian medical ethics. The argument of the Australian authors from the University of Melbourne echoes that made for many years by Princeton University bioethics professor Peter Singer.
Based on utilitarian premises, the article concludes that newborn babies, like infants in the womb, are not fully human persons. Therefore (to use a “nuanced” word) the conclusion is that it is ethical to “terminate” newborns. The professors emphasize that this is true “even if the baby is not disabled.” In the absence of limits, is it then ethical, to use the less nuanced word, for parents to kill the baby if she doesn’t quite look like “the Gerber baby” … or cries annoyingly at night?
Remember: this new article appears in a leading, peer-reviewed “scholarly” journal of medical ethics. It not alarmist conjecture.
The article argues that killing newborn babies is moral whether or not the child is disabled. Of course, if the baby does happen to be sick or disabled, others besides the parents often are affected, especially in a future world of national health insurance. In an amoral, utilitarian society, why wouldn’t the Department of Human Services defend the low cost of health insurance by deciding to end the baby’s life, trumping the pleas of her parents?
Following the abstract, see also the rebuttal by a noted Princeton scholar and opponent of abortion who has long disputed Peter Singer’s utilitarian “logic”:
After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?
Alberto Giubilini, Department of Philosophy, University of Milan, Milan, Italy; Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Francesca Minerva, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Oxford University, Oxford, UK Contributors AG and FM contributed equally to the manuscript. Published Online First 23 February 2012
Abstract Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.
REBUTTAL: See the analysis by Princeton University’s McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Robert P. George, who is also one of the foremost scholars who opposes abortion: