Calling It “After-Birth Abortion” Doesn’t Change a Thing 16

46421050“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.

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?”


    • It is the height of insanity. You can’t make this stuff up!

      “Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason.” — G. K. Chesterton

      • IKR…

        He is definitely making broad use of the sense of the term reason. The fact that someone can and will reason to such a conclusion — no matter how consistently they argue — ought to suggest that they need to reconsider their premises, because something is obviously wrong-headed about this thinking.

        I think Chesterton would say this sort of thing is more akin to solipsism than to moral relativism, and I would agree with him, although as far as the outcome is concerned, they really are the same thing.

  1. The fault lies in the logic that these infants are non-persons. We must as Christians and as a society take the stand that human life, in all its forms, is a person, and therefore protected.

  2. I am glad that you brought this out. It is one of the most awful things I have ever heard about. I can scarcely believe anybody thinks this way, but of course, they do.

  3. It changes a lot. There are stages in trimesters at which some do not consider it murder (may agree or disagree) except a lot a third trimester do considerate murder but once the baby is born there can be no question or argument that it is not murder.

    • Yeah, the title was a sort of misgiver (if that word means anything). Of course it changes something, depending on how you look at it. What it doesn’t change is this: Murder.

      Giubilini and Minerva’s article in the Journal of Medical Ethics, kind of relates to what you are saying. The focus there is on what others think, not on any right that the unborn might have, since it denies that there can be any rights of that sort. So, whether you extend this argument backwards to the point when there is no detectable brain activity or heartbeat or forward to even after the child is born (when at some point I suppose we have to say it has rights, but they can always find a reason to keep raising that bar), it’s a subjective call, since, as you point out, not everyone agrees on the standard. The afterbirth abortion advocates actually make it simple. It’s based on someone else’s choice, not on the moral status of the embryo, fetus, infant, (pre-teen?)…

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