I hate to say ‘I told you so’ but… I told you so.
In the conversation (or debate, argument and throw-down) about abortion, we pro-life advocates are often admonished for using the “slippery slope” fallacy in our arguments. While I’ll willingly admit that the slippery slope argument is not the best one to us in our debate, that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.
For example, we’ve long argued that biologically (i.e. scientifically), there is simply no difference between a newborn child and preborn child that is near term. This is a fact. So, when a pro-abortion advocate argues that it is perfectly moral and reasonable to murder a pre-born child, they must necessarily agree that it is also moral and reasonable for a parent to murder a newborn child.
Most abortionists don’t agree. But this is simply because they have no problem with being intellectually dishonest and contradicting their own arguments.
As effective as this argument is, one of my concerns with using it has been that, at some point, we might cross the Rubicon on this subject and reach a point in our culture where liberals no longer have a problem with murdering newborns. Apparently, we have reached that point. In a recent article in the Journal of Medical Ethics pro-abortion advocates now argue that parents should be allowed to kill their baby after that child is born.
The article, entitled “After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?”, was written by two of Prof Savulescu’s former associates, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva.
They argued: “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”
Rather than being “actual persons”, newborns were “potential persons”. They explained: “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’.
As such they argued it was “not possible to damage a newborn by preventing her from developing the potentiality to become a person in the morally relevant sense”.
The authors therefore concluded 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”.
They also argued that parents should be able to have the baby killed if it turned out to be disabled without their knowing before birth, for example citing that “only the 64 per cent of Down’s syndrome cases” in Europe are diagnosed by prenatal testing.
Once such children were born there was “no choice for the parents but to keep the child”, they wrote.
“To bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.”
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”.
While the article disgusts me, it does not surprise me. This is a completely rational approach to understanding the abortion debate, and the arguments they present are wholly reasonable – if you believe that abortion is not an absolute moral wrong. As a pro-lifer, this has been the core of my anti-abortion argument for years: to believe that abortion is acceptable YOU MUST ALSO BELIEVE that murdering children after birth is also morally acceptable. YOU MUST.
Unsurprisingly, the article has stirred much passion, and the authors have even received death threats. This worries the editor of the Journal who says that the abusive attacks have come from “fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.” I think the editor hasn’t thought through his position. Those attacking this article are simply carrying the ideas of the authors to their natural conclusion – if a moral argument can be made for the murder of preborns and newborns, then a similar argument can be made for the murder of much older humans.
Any honest defense of abortion can also easily (and naturally) become a defense of murder at any age, and in any stage of life. This fact strips bare the pro-abortion argument and leaves only the truth… abortion is murder. Every time. Murder is always evil and morally wrong. In every case. Therefore, every abortion is a disgusting act of evil.