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?"
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.