Friday, March 2, 2012

400-408 – • Alberto Giubilini & Francesca Minerva (Journal of Medical Ethics, 2/23/2012) After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?


Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus' health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call 'after-birth abortion' (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.


If criteria such as the costs (social, psychological, economic) for the potential parents are good enough reasons for having an abortion even when the fetus is healthy, if the moral status of the newborn is the same as that of the infant and if neither has any moral value by virtue of being a potential person, then the same reasons which justify abortion should also justify the killing of the potential person when it is at the stage of a newborn.

Two considerations need to be added.

First, we do not put forward any claim about the moment at which after-birth abortion would no longer be permissible, and we do not think that in fact more than a few days would be necessary for doctors to detect any abnormality in the child. In cases where the after-birth abortion were requested for non-medical reasons, we do not suggest any threshold, as it depends on the neurological development of newborns, which is something neurologists and psychologists would be able to assess.

Second, we do not claim that after-birth abortions are good alternatives to abortion. Abortions at an early stage are the best option, for both psychological and physical reasons. However, if a disease has not been detected during the pregnancy, if something went wrong during the delivery, or if economical, social or psychological circumstances change such that taking care of the offspring becomes an unbearable burden on someone, then people should be given the chance of not being forced to do something they cannot afford.

413-423 – • Telegraph (2/29/2012) Killing babies no different from abortion, experts say.  Parents should be allowed to have their newborn babies killed because they are "morally irrelevant" and ending their lives is no different to abortion, a group of medical ethicists linked to Oxford University has argued.

The article, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, says newborn babies are not "actual persons" and do not have a "moral right to life". The academics also argue that parents should be able to have their baby killed if it turns out to be disabled when it is born.

The journal's editor, Prof Julian Savulescu, director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, said the article's authors had received death threats since publishing the article. He said those who made abusive and threatening posts about the study were "fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society".

The article, entitled "After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?", was written by two of Prof Savulescu's former associates, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva.

They argued: "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."

Rather than being "actual persons", newborns were "potential persons". They explained: "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."

As such they argued it was "not possible to damage a newborn by preventing her from developing the potentiality to become a person in the morally relevant sense".

The authors therefore concluded that "what we call 'after-birth abortion' (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled".

They also argued that parents should be able to have the baby killed if it turned out to be disabled without their knowing before birth, for example citing that "only the 64 per cent of Down's syndrome cases" in Europe are diagnosed by prenatal testing.

Once such children were born there was "no choice for the parents but to keep the child", they wrote.

"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."

However, they did not argue that some baby killings were more justifiable than others – their fundamental point was that, morally, there was no difference to abortion as already practiced.

They preferred to use the phrase "after-birth abortion" rather than "infanticide" to "emphasize that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus".

// While accepting that many people would disagree with their arguments, he wrote: "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."

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, he added: "This "debate" has been an example of "witch ethics" - a group of people know who the witch is and seek to burn her. It is one of the most dangerous human tendencies we have. It leads to lynching and genocide. Rather than argue and engage, there is a drive to silence and, in the extreme, kill, based on their own moral certainty. That is not the sort of society we should live in."

428-438 –  • CNS News (3/1/2012) Sebelius: Decrease in Human Beings Will Cover Cost of Contraception Mandate.

• CNS News (3/1/2012) Sebelius Claims 'No Abortifacient Drug' Covered by Contraception Mandate.

443-452 – Mitch Glazer, President of Chosen People Ministries, is hosting an upcoming two-day conference at Biola University, Friday and Saturday March 23-24, entitled Israel, The Church and the Middle East Crisis featuring Joel Rosenberg and Hormoz Shariat.  Registration is $35, which includes lunch, and students with an ID get in free.  Register at 8884055874. Isa 53.

458-508 – Scott Daniels, Dean of APU's School of Theology ( and senior pastor at Pasadena First Church of the Nazarene (, his radio show "Faith Works" can be heard Sunday mornings on KKLA at 1130am.  His latest two books are:  The First 100 Days: A Pastor's Guide, and Seven Deadly Spirits: The Message of Revelation's Letters for Today's Church.  Scott and Debbie have four kids.  Today we talk theology, specifically, Calvinism and Arminianism, bouncing off the acronym TULIP that summarizes the five points of Calvinism:  Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints.

512-523 – Scott Daniels,

528-539 – Scott Daniels,

544-554 – Scott Daniels,

558-608 – Bishop Ken Ulmer, senior pastor of Faithful Central Bible Church ( for the past 30 years, is out with his latest Knowing God's Voice: Learn How to Hear God Above the Chaos of Life and Respond Passionately in Faith (Amazon).  The renewed emphasis at Faithful has been to equip everyone to make disciples, or as he says, to "build champions for divine deployment."  Ken encourages us to "re-think" church.  What we do on Sunday is really more of an Old Testament model of "Temple and Tabernacle" because the idea is to "come", rather than a New Testament model where the idea is to "go."

609 – Don't miss our upcoming KKLA Faith Night at Staples on Thursday March 15th to watch Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and the Clippers take on the Phoenix Suns. Tickets are only $18 through, keyword "Clippers."

612-623 – Bishop Ken UlmerJesus speaks to the storm, to you in the storm, and then to the storm within you.

628-639 – Bishop Ken UlmerDid God ever tell you to change course?  Open door, closed door.

644-654 – Bishop Ken UlmerHow do you pray for a need?  A job, a troubled relationship, an issue with a friend, or the kids, or the parents?

• Jonah Goldberg (NRO, 3/2/2012) The Five-Alarm Firebell Falls Silent.

• Peggy Noonan (WSJ, 3/1/2012) We're More Than Political Animals.  The dangers of struggle, and of trying to come across as normal.