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What the 'After-Birth Abortion' and 'Personhood' Debates Have in Common


Mar 5 2012
If there is 'no moral difference' between infants and fetuses, where do we draw the line?

After pointing out the unassailable logic of the after-birth abortion argument, The Telegraph blog goes on to say that the article may provide a "boost" to the pro-life movement. Indeed, the journal article is so over-the-top, one wonders if it might not have been written by covert pro-life advocates whose true views (a la Swift) are, in a move of sheer irony, opposite the ones stated.

Nevertheless, a boost to the pro-life movement couldn't come at a better time. Attempts at state legislation on abortion around the time of the article's publication became rallying points for pro-choice advocates as well as fodder for national jokes, to the point of calling into question the vice presidential potential of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. My own recent discussions on the subject inevitably degenerated toward impasse simply because, as always, just about any conclusion on any abortion-related issue ultimately comes down to one's position on the status of the unborn human life. If in any debate we are talking about a baby not essentially unlike the one grandma jostles on her knee, one conclusion seems clear; if we are talking about something less than, just about anything is apparently possible—as the after-birth abortion article clearly demonstrates.

Of course, as the journal's editor notes, after-birth abortion isn't really new: "The arguments presented, in fact, are largely not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world, including Peter Singer, Michael Tooley, and John Harris in defence of infanticide." And let's not forget that the ancient Greeks left their unwanted children on the mountainside to die, too, Mr. Editor.

This makes it even more noteworthy that the article concedes that a fetus is, in fact, a human being: "Both a foetus 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'." They go on to argue that "the interests of actual people override the interest of merely potential people. Since non-persons have no moral rights to life, there are no reasons for banning after-birth abortions."

Related Topics:Abortion; Children; Politics

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