Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It Can’t Happen Here? After-Birth Abortion

“After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?”  That is the title of a paper recently published in the Journal of Medical Ethics by Australian professors Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva.  From the abstract itself: “The authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is.”   A statement like this should give all reasonable people reason to step back and take a deep breath. Granted, I am an evangelical pastor who is actively pro-life.  Yet even I can recognize, that in real life there are some difficult circumstances that deserve a large measure of humility and a nuanced response.  Start with conception by rape or incest for example. 

I understand that issues like late-term abortions, public funding and parental consent are bound to be difficult to resolve between people with widely differing convictions.

But is there anyone who can read that article and not feel that in some profound way a line has been crossed?  At least the Nazi term “final solution” was opaque.  “After-birth abortion?”  That anyone could say or print that without emotion speaks to an emptiness that is inconceivable to me.  We are rightly outraged to think of Nazis listening to Bach at night while running Auschwitz during the day.  And yet here we are.

This is the paper’s abstract in full:
Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus' health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue 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.

Click Here for the full article in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Click Here for an analysis of the paper by Weekly Standard writer Andrew Ferguson.


  1. Okay, you drew me in on this one. I am not sure if I am agreeing with you or not, but I would say that the authors of this paper have a logical and legitimate point. They are starting with the same premise that we pro lifers are, it seems. A baby has the same value, in or out of the womb. The similarity stops there. The argument against abortion is that you are killing a human life. The argument for it, scientifically unfounded, is that it is not yet fully human. All these people are saying is that, if that is true, then lets own it to the full and carry it out all the way. I think it is good for people to see that this is the logical end to that line of thinking.

    1. I think you are quite correct. That this is a logical extension of the argument is what is most chilling. I don't think one could even claim it extension to absurdity. It's simply the next step.


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