This update from Sister Toldjah. It pretty much sums up what I have been mulling on. Where does it stop? According the the cited article, a newborn baby is not yet a person because they are incapable of valuing their own life, and they can therefore be legally killed (infanticide is the word you are searching for).
But when do they become "real" people? Can you take personhood away if you lose the ability to value your existence, say, due to old age or accident? Who makes that decision? It is a very slippery slope.
Hey, if the infant isn’t a person because they can’t attribute value to their own existence and feel loss if that existence is deprived, why stop there? How about the elderly suffering from senile dementia or Alzheimer’s? Surely they’ve lost the capability of attributing value to their existence, so they’re not people by these standards, right? Might as well let their relatives (or the State) snuff them when they become an “unbearable burden.” And what about severely disabled adults, too? I mean, gee, we’d save society all that money in Medicaid support for group homes. After all, they’re not really people.
Call me “old-fashioned” and “unenlightened,” ignorant of sophisticated ethics, but I have this crazy belief that the right to live is a natural right preexisting Human laws and ethics. It is only to be taken away under the most restricted circumstances, such as in a “just war” or by law after a fair trial as the only way to enact justice after a horrible crime.
Not simply because you might regard the baby as a “burden.”
And what kind of sociopathic lack of empathy does it imply to go through such intellectual gymnastics to arrive at the conclusion that the infant is no longer a person? When does it become a person? When it first smiles? Its first steps? Its first words, when it finally has a chance to say “please don’t kill me?”
“Ethics.” Yeah, these really are some ethics, aren’t they? They’re the fascist ethics of a state that denies the inherent worth of the individual and, when that individual becomes a “burden,” can decide he or she is no longer “really a person” and can thus be disposed of at will.
I’m with Walter Russell Mead: while I firmly believe as a federalist that the abortion question in America should be decided on a state-by-state basis until a consensus is reached, if this idea ever gains currency in the US, sign me up for a right-to-life amendment to the US Constitution.
Hot Air had this a few days ago. Currently, if a baby survives the abortion procedure, it is set aside and allowed to cry itself to death. There is no obligation on the part of those in the room to save the life of that child who is undeniably, individually alive.
The following is not really that surprising then. What is the difference, really, between destroying a child at 22 weeks in the womb or destroying it at 36 weeks outside of it? Both could survive with care. It is a sickening thought that such disregard for innocent life has become an acceptable part of our society.
The editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics today defended his decision to publish an article in which two ethicists advocated “after-birth abortion.” What was truly surprising about the article, editor Julian Savulescu writes, is not that the authors find infanticide morally permissible — but, rather, that opponents to infanticide would react to the article with vehemence. From Savulescu’s defense:
What is disturbing is not the arguments in this paper nor its publication in an ethics journal. It is the hostile, abusive, threatening responses that it has elicited. More than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.
What the response to this article reveals, through the microscope of the web, is the deep disorder of the modern world. Not that people would give arguments in favour of infanticide, but the deep opposition that exists now to liberal values and fanatical opposition to any kind of reasoned engagement.
Savulescu might have a point that some of the responses to the article crossed the line. Of those he quoted, a couple were overtly racist and at least one was an outright death threat to anyone who would willingly perform an “after-birth abortion.” But that he doesn’t see the arguments forwarded by the authors as evidence of “the deep disorder of the modern world” is far moredisturbing than comments thoughtlessly dashed off by justifiably outraged opponents of infanticide. The Blaze outlines the article’s original arguments:
The authors go on to state that the moral status of a newborn is equivalent to a fetus in that it cannot be considered a person in the “morally relevant sense.” On this point, the authors write:
“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’. 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.
Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life. Indeed, many humans are not considered subjects of a right to life: spare embryos where research on embryo stem cells is permitted, fetuses where abortion is permitted, criminals where capital punishment is legal.”
Giubilini and Minerva believe that being able to understand the value of a different situation, which often depends on mental development, determines personhood. For example, being able to tell the difference between an undesirable situation and a desirable one. They note that fetuses and newborns are “potential persons.” The authors do acknowledge that a mother, who they cite as an example of a true person, can attribute “subjective” moral rights to the fetus or newborn, but they state this is only a projected moral status.
Once upon a time, abortion advocates would accuse pro-lifers of “slippery slope logic” when those pro-lifers suggested it was only a matter of time before someone would use the abortion advocates’ arguments to defend infanticide. According to Savulescu, that began to happen a long time ago — and it continues to happen today. Turns out, it is a slippery slope, after all. If humans don’t have a right to life from the moment of conception, when does the right to life kick in? The moment a human becomes a person? When is that? Who determines when? The standard becomes movable — and, consequently, impossible to uphold.