Killing Newborn Infants Permissible?
If abortion is permissible, then is it permissible to kill a newborn infant?
For many years, pro-life advocates have pointed out that many of the same arguments used to justify abortion could also be used to justify infanticide. For example, pro-choice advocates have justified abortion by noting that fetuses are not self-conscious in the way adults are. But pro-life advocates have responded that the same thing could also be said about infants. Pro-choice advocates have also claimed that some fetuses are mentally and/or physically disabled and that permitting them to live would entail a difficult life for both the child and the parents. And again, pro-life advocates have said that the same thing could be said of newborns.
Usually, when the implications for infanticide have been pointed out, pro-choice advocates have tended to withdraw their arguments. However, two “ethicists” have flipped these arguments around and published a paper arguing that infanticide is, in fact, entirely permissible. The Telegraph reports the authors as stating that a newborn is only a “potential person” and therefore it was “not possible to damage a newborn”.
In reaction to this development, The Telegraph quoted Dr. Trevor Stammers, director of medical ethics at St Mary’s University College, “If a mother does smother her child with a blanket, we say ‘it’s doesn’t matter, she can get another one,’ is that what we want to happen?"
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Stephen Adams, “Killing Babies No Different from Abortion, Experts Say,” The Telegraph, February 29, 2012, sec. News, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/9113394/Killing-babies-no-different-from-abortion-experts-say.html.