There is no reason why "after-birth abortions," or killing babies after they are born, should be illegal if abortion itself is legal, two Australian ethicists have argued in a journal report called "barbaric" by readers. However, some suggest that the article is only meant to expose the "absurdity" of pro-choice views.
Alberto Giubilini, of Monash University in Melbourne, and Francesca Minerva, of the Center for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne, have published an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics titled "After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?" in which they argue that a newborn baby is no more a real "person" than unborn fetuses. Giubilini and Minerva argue that if the baby has a serious condition, such as Down Syndrome, which would make the child a burden to the government and the family, then parents should be given a choice to dispose of it – much like their choice to abort a baby still in the womb.
"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. On these grounds, the fact that a fetus has the potential to become a person who will have an (at least) acceptable life is no reason for prohibiting abortion. Therefore, we argue that, when circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible," the ethicists state.
In their article, Giubilini and Minerva argue that even babies with no birth defects should still not be entitled protection under the law, and be subject to the possibility of after-birth abortion.
The pair writes, "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.
"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.' We take 'person' to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her," the article continues. In then puts infants, fetuses, severely mentally retarded persons and animals in the same category, since no members of these categories can recognize the value of their own existence.
While the article recognizes that newly formed humans carry the potential to become self-aware persons, if fetuses are not protected from abortion and their potential is not taken into consideration, then neither should such consideration be provided for infants.
Giubilini and Minerva conclude by admitting that they cannot say for certain when a baby becomes a "person," and that such analysis is best left for neurologists and psychologists.
While Giubilini and Minerva have not explicitly stated the motives behind their journal article, Professor Julian Savulescu, director of the Oxford Uehiro Center for Practical Ethics, who serves as the journal's editor, shared with The Telegraph that although many outraged readers have already complained about the piece and called it "barbaric," it was not written with the intent of suggesting killing infants should be made legal.
"The goal of the Journal of Medical Ethics is not to present the Truth or promote some one moral view. It is to present well reasoned argument based on widely accepted premises," Savulescu explained.
Matthew Archbold from the National Catholic Register analyzed the article and shared that although at first he, like many readers, was taken aback by the premises, he realized that what the journal does is highlight the "absurdity of the pro-abortion argument."
"The second we allow ourselves to become the arbiters of who is human and who isn't, this is the calamitous yet inevitable end. Once you say all human life is not sacred, the rest is just drawing random lines in the sand," Archbold said.