“After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” was a the title of a serious medical paper, published by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva in the Journal of Medical Ethics, last year on February, 23. A question this title ought to provoke in everyone’s mind — Pro-Lifers and Pro-Choicers alike — is why are they calling it “after-birth abortion,” and not euthanasia? Even Britt Hume seemed a bit confused and disgusted over this, just recently.
There are now people seriously arguing for abortion AFTER BIRTH. slate.com/articles/healt…—
Brit Hume (@brithume) February 24, 2014
The term euthanasia, at least, implies unnecessarily killing a person, before their natural death.
Then again, so does the term abortion.
Not so, argue Giubilini and Minerva. As they see it, the term abortion implies there is no person to consider in the first place, other than the mother and/or doctor whose right to choose far outweighs that of the new-born child, who still has no rights to speak of. According to their logic, there is no “who” to speak of, when it comes to the child. But they are not denying that there’s a child involved.
After all, there is little if any difference in neural development that distinguishes a pre-born fetus from a new-born infant. Simply passing through the birth canal doesn’t cause anything to change in that regard. And since abortions can be performed on fetuses up until they are born for the very reason that the law does not recognize them as persons — except in some areas in the United States — it makes logical sense that they can be legally “aborted” after they are born.
As Giubilini and Minerva observe:
In order for a harm to occur, it is necessary that someone is in the condition of experiencing that harm. If a potential person, like a fetus and a newborn, does not become an actual person, like you and us, then there is neither an actual nor a future person who can be harmed, which means that there is no harm at all. … In these cases, since non-persons have no moral rights to life, there are no reasons for banning after-birth abortions. … Indeed, however weak the interests of actual people can be, they will always trump the alleged interest of potential people to become actual ones, because this latter interest amounts to zero.
The shift in focus here is what distinguishes (what they are now trying to call) “after-birth abortion” from euthanasia. In the case of child euthanasia, just recently legalized in Belgium, the focus is on the suffering child and the value of his or her life. In “after-birth abortion” the child has no value, unless the parent and/or doctor choose to recognize its value as a potential — not actual — person.
Here is the question we should all be asking ourselves — abortionists included. How does preferring the term “after-birth abortion” to child euthanasia change anything in practice? The answer, I believe, is that it doesn’t change a thing, in that regard, because the choice of words does not change the fact that they are still trying to justify killing people, out of expedience.
What it does changes is something even Pro-Choice people need to consider very carefully. An explicit connection has now been made between abortion and literally killing a child, just by introducing the notion of “after-birth abortion.” That connection can no lover be denied.
Whether you accept or reject the term “after-birth abortion,” you cannot disregard this fact. Sophisticated arguments have been made to suggest that laws protecting abortion should also be extended to living children who are already born. Those arguments where published in a reputable ethics journal, and thereby accepted by the scholarly community. So the connection between abortion and killing children is forevermore established and recognized by abortion advocates themselves and the medical establishment.
One implication of this reasoning is that arguments in favor of abortion based on the “lump of cells” premise are now futile. Why should it matter, if there’s no problem with actually killing a child?
Observe that this is a sharp, double-edged sword they’re wielding. If the legal establishment ultimately rejects “after-birth abortion” on the grounds of its repugnance — i.e., on the grounds that there are no justifiable reasons for killing a healthy child — then why should any abortion be legal under similar circumstances?
It seems there may be good reasons why abortion and euthanasia advocates ought to consider not pushing the notion of “after-birth abortion” forward. Though their reasons are notably different from mine in this regard, I certainly hope they choose to avoid that route.
You may also be interested in reading Fr Joseph Tham’s article on Biltrix, last year, “The Ethics of Infanticide: Why Should the Baby Die?”