baby

Thus ran the UK Telegraph headline for March 4. However, it was MercatorNet’s own esteemed editor, Michael Cook, who launched the shocking proposal of a couple of ethicists into the blogosphere with posts in BioEdge (Feb. 25) and MercatorNet (Feb. 28).

“Killing babies is no different from abortion.” Never were truer words spoken: groups seeking legal protection for prenatal life have been saying it (though with syntax reversed) for decades. The really scary part is that now “experts” are using the argument, not to curb or stop abortion, but to normalize infanticide.

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. 

I am at a loss to explain why Oxford-linked medical ethicists are any more “morally relevant” than the average newborn baby. My motto is: ‘Every ethicist a wanted ethicist,’ and with ethicists like this, who needs Nazis? But very much like our former fascist foes, these fellows believe that if you repeat a lie often enough, the gullible will buy it.

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.

Oh, the “disabled”—every enlightened person agrees by now that the disabled (we won’t call them ‘people’ for obvious reasons) have no quality of life. Eliminating the disabled gives the argument a veneer of post-modern respectability (if you’re into eugenics), but this article goes further: it claims simply that “newborns” –all newborns—are not actual persons, so why stop at eliminating the disabled?

The journal article’s authors make it clear that their argument is not based on eugenics, but a chilling (and flawless) logic:

However, they did not argue that some baby killings were more justifiable than others – their fundamental point was that, morally, there was no difference to abortion as already practised.

They preferred to use the phrase “after-birth abortion” rather than “infanticide” to “emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus”.

An unborn child is a non-person with non-rights. Been there, done that, argues every civilized western nation.

So what constitutes personhood, you may ask? The morally-relevant Oxford-linked ethicists have an answer:

“We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.”

There’s a significant percentage of the adult population walking around right now that could not tell you (on first reading) what that sentence even means—including me, before I’ve had my morning coffee. Does that make us insufficiently cogent to merit existence? And isn’t it horridly ironic that the authors chose to use female pronouns for their ‘personhood’ definition, what with the whole (female) gendercide thing running rampant in some parts of the globe?

I ask again: why stop at eliminating disabled newborns? Or female newborns? Or insufficiently philosophically self-aware newborns? The answer is, they won’t. But who gets to decide which of us are not smart enough, productive enough, healthy enough, strong enough, pretty enough, tall enough, politically-correct enough to deserve life?

Something akin to the fabled hundreds of Inuit words for snow, we in the enlightened west now have innumerable terms for the murder of the vulnerable and the unwanted: after-birth abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, death with dignity, compassionate exit, ethnic cleansing, family balancing, pregnancy termination. Will advanced societies soon add one more? Perhaps “Termination of Ordinary Underlings for the Callous Hubris of the Elite” (TOUCHE for short)?

And I’ll ask it one more time: who gets to decide? As pundits and bloggers on life issues often say: is that slope slippery enough for you yet?

Mariette Ulrich is a homemaker and freelance writer. She lives in western Canada with her husband and six of their seven children. Mariette holds an Honours B.A. in English Literature...