In a week where most of the Australian mainstream media have been focused on Nick (aka, ‘the-honey-badger’) Cummins’ antics in The Bachelor, there has been one particular article that has dominated The Daily Telegraph’s website, Killing newborns ‘should be allowed’, published back in March 2012. The article itself is not just clickbait but refers to the work of Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva—from Monash and Melbourne University—who argue that the killing of newborn children is ethically justified. Their argument, set out in, After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? is as follows:
We claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk. Accordingly, a second terminological specification is that we call such a practice ‘after-birth abortion’ rather than ‘euthanasia’ because the best interest of the one who dies is not necessarily the primary criterion for the choice, contrary to what happens in the case of euthanasia.
So, let’s get this straight. Killing a new-born child after a healthy pregnancy of nine months is justified if it somehow impacts on the ‘well-being’ of the family? But the definition of what constitutes one’s ‘well-being’ here is so vague that you could drive a truck through it. Lurking behind Giubilini and Minerva’s argument of sheer personal convenience is not only an unwillingness to take seriously the responsibility to care for another human being but a total failure to adequately answer the fundamental question of personhood.
Tragically, this is not satire. What’s more, neither does it pass the basic test of common sense. For instance, even the article in The Daily Telegraph acknowledged, ‘Although the authors claim that the “moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus, that is, neither can be considered a ‘person’ in a morally relevant sense”, they concede it is hard to determine exactly when a subject starts or ceases to be a “person”.’ This is precisely the issue, as the following video humorously demonstrates:
Do you know how you got your human rights? This might surprise you!
Geplaatst door CHOICE42 op Zaterdag 2 juni 2018
What many people don’t realise is that what these two Australian academics are saying is nothing new. Indeed, it’s what Peter Singer—currently the professor of bioethics at Princeton University—has been arguing for decades. All the way back in July of 1983, Singer wrote an article in Pediatrics (sic) titled, “Sanctity of Life or Quality of Life?” Interestingly, Singer was also employed by Monash University at the time of its publication. The essence—I would have said ‘heart’, but as you’ll soon see, that seems utterly inappropriate—of Singer’s argument is as follows:
We can no longer base ethics on the idea that human beings are a special form of creation, made in the image of God, singled out from all other animals, and alone possessing an immortal soul…
If we compare a severely defective human infant with a nonhuman animal, a dog or a pig, for example, we will often find the nonhuman to have superior capacities, both actual and potential, for rationality, self-consciousness, communication, and anything else that can plausibly be considered morally significant. Only the fact that the defective infant is a member of the species Homo sapiens leads it to be treated differently from the dog or pig. Species membership alone, however, is not morally relevant. Humans who bestow superior value on the lives of all human beings, solely because they are members of our own species, are judging along lines strikingly similar to those used by white racists who bestow superior value on the lives of other whites, merely because they are members of their own race.
Singer’s argument, incidentally, proceeds along the lines of an earlier argument by Friedrich Nietzsche, who wrote, in Twilight of the Idols and the Antichrist:
We no longer [after Darwin] derive man from ‘spirit’, or from ‘godhead’, we have put him back among the animals… He is by no means the crown of creation: every being along with him is at an equal stage of perfection.
This may sound OK in theory, but is it really as bad to kill a pig as it is to murder a human? Singer and Nietzsche’s argument turns human reality into a pathetic farce. A dog, a human, or even a tree (as a living thing), all now have an equivalent value. On this basis, it doesn’t seem so bad to kill a new-born because it has a chromosomal abnormality, such as Downs Syndrome. In fact, according to Singer, it’s no more abhorrent than killing a sick dog.
But does Singer realise that these are precisely the kind of ideas that justified the Nazi’s murder of people who served no purpose in the Third Reich? People whom they referred to as, ‘useless eaters’? Sadly, Singer’s abhorrent views are shared by others at Princeton, as the following video with Elizabeth Harman, the Professor of Philosophy, demonstrates:
With circular reasoning like that, it’s little wonder that the Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther, used to refer to philosophy as ‘the devil’s whore’. For there is a logical consistency within the pro-choice argument as to why abortion has led to the killing of infant children. And that’s because it already is the killing of infant children.
While I’ve never watched an episode of The Bachelor, it sure seems like a lot of women—and maybe a few men—are upset about some bloke’s inability to commit. Brittany, one of the young women the ‘honey-badger’ spurned, said on Sydney radio after the finale:
Nick is just like an animal… He cannot be controlled. He makes his own rules.
Hmmm, with statements like that I’m starting to see why Cummins might have done a runner.
Let’s just be thankful that badgers don’t kill their mates—let alone their offspring—whenever it threatens their ‘well-being’. Only animals like academics at Monash and Princeton seem to believe in doing things like that.
Mark Powell is the Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Strathfield.
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