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Recommending After-Birth Abortion

Two Australian-based bioethicists have written an article published by the British Medical Journal group arguing that there is no difference between killing a newborn and aborting a baby in the womb. “We claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be,” write the authors. Their logic is unassailable, but also chilling, for they are essentially making the case for infanticide. Or, perhaps, unwittingly, the case against abortion.

The title of the article — “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” has sparked debate and outrage across the world. Dr. Francesca Minerva now claims the article was “a theoretical and academic article,” and that she does not favor infanticide.

The opening paragraph by Minerva and her colleague, Alberto Giubilini, reads as follows:

“Severe abnormalities of the fetus and risks for the physical and/or psychological health of the woman are often cited as valid reasons for abortion. Sometimes the two reasons are connected, such as when a woman claims that a disabled child would represent a risk to her mental health. However, having a child can itself be an unbearable burden for the psychological health of the woman or for her already existing children, regardless of the condition of the fetus. This could happen in the case of a woman who loses her partner after she finds out that she is pregnant and therefore feels she will not be able to take care of the possible child by herself.”

Note that a child without a disability would fit into this criteria.

What do the authors say about adoption?

“We also need to consider the interests of the mother who might suffer psychological distress from giving her child up for adoption,” they write. “It is true that grief and sense of loss may accompany both abortion and after-birth abortion [infanticide] as well as adoption, but we cannot assume that for the birthmother the latter is the least traumatic.”

Killing newborns is already occurring in the Netherlands under a protocol developed by a prestigious hospital. Here are two infamous American examples of how extreme dedication to abortion can lead to support for infanticide:

  • When the federal partial-birth abortion ban was being debated in the U.S. Senate in the 1990s, then Senator Rick Santorum asked then Senator Russ Feingold what should happen if the baby slipped out of the womb and was born before being killed. Feingold replied that it was still a decision between the woman and her doctor.
  • Then Illinois Senator Barack Obama did everything possible to bottle up a bill which would require that infants who survive abortion attempts be treated like any other infant born alive. He also voted against the legislation. In other words, if the expected desire was a dead baby, then that’s what the result should be.

The after-birth abortion article will likely get fairly short-shrift at this time. But, it raises provocative thoughts about the fragile link between abortion and infanticide.

Barbara Lyons

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