Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Life Too Inconvenient for Life

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Life Too Inconvenient for Life

Article excerpt

The Journal of Medical Ethics, an altogether mainstream, peer-reviewed scholarly publication, recently published an article justifying "after-birth abortion," a locution authors Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva use to describe killing newborns whose parents don't want them.

"Children with severe abnormalities whose lives can be expected to not be worth living" can be "terminated," as the Groningen Protocol in the ever-merciful Netherlands currently allows. Then the authors follow the ruthless logic of the pro-abortion position to its conclusion. "If criteria such as the costs (social, psychological, economic) for the potential parents are good enough reasons for having an abortion even when the fetus is healthy," they observe, and if we can't give a cogent explanation why a fetus suddenly becomes a person simply by passing through the birth canal, "then the same reasons which justify abortion should also justify the killing of the potential person when it is at the stage of a newborn."

If we can kill a healthy child in the womb for a whole range of reasons, then why not in the hospital nursery? Why not abortions "after birth"?

At first I thought the article was meant as cutting humor. The clattering machinery of the simplistic syllogisms seem positively Swiftean, a satire of our present-day moralists. Want to kill newborns? OK, OK, give me a minute or two, and I'll give you the arguments.

But no, the editors of the Journal of Medical Ethics apparently think that these sorts of arguments should be taken seriously. They will of course say that the journal is committed to "stimulating discussion" and "airing controversial views." What's the harm in thinking it through? Aren't free exchanges like this good for us? Doesn't it help us refine our moral arguments and perhaps overcome our irrational responses of disgust and moral dismay? …

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