An article published in February in the international, peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Ethics is making headlines around the world. In the article, former Cambridge and Oxford University researchers Dr. Alberto Giubilini and Dr. Francesca Minerva argue the very point pro-life advocates have said all along: There is no essential difference between a fetus and a newborn, and their moral status is the same.
Pro-life supporters should be elated.
But we're not.
In claiming that unborn children and newborn children are morally equivalent, Giubilini and Minerva are not arguing for the right to life. To the contrary, the article advocates what the authors term "after-birth abortion." The British tabloid The Sun put it a bit more starkly in a headline last week: "Slaughter Newborn Kids, Say Academics." The Telegraph's headline sums it up this way: "Killing Babies Is No Different From Abortion."
If a newborn will place an "unbearable burden" on the family or society (such as in the case of disability), the researchers argue, the infant should be subject to an after-birth abortion. "Merely being human," they claim, "is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life."
Not surprisingly (and thankfully), the article has garnered vehement backlash from across the globe, particularly in the blogosphere. (Sadly, some of those claiming to defend life have resorted to less-than-ethical responses to the article, even to the point of death threats.)
The journal's editor has defended the decision to publish the article, but not merely on the usual grounds of academic freedom. Instead, noting that infanticide is legal in the Netherlands, the editor argues that publishing the article reflects the journal's support of "sound rational argument ...1
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