‘Induction over the history of science suggests that the best theories we have today will prove more or less untrue at the latest by tomorrow afternoon.’ Fodor, J. ‘Why Pigs don’t have wings,’ London Review of Books, 18th Oct 2007


Thursday, 1 March 2012

Killing Unwanted Babies in the BMJ ?

An article has appeared in the British Medical Journal suggesting it should be acceptable to kill unwanted babies. The article is (misguidedly) justified on the grounds of free speech. In response the Daily Mail has published an article on its website available here

It reads that "Francesca Minerva [a philosopher and medical ethicist with links to Oxford University], argues a young baby is not a real person and so killing it in the first days after birth is little different to aborting it in the womb." She is reported to have suggested that "Doctors should have the right to kill newborn babies because they are disabled, too expensive or simply unwanted by their mothers.'

Lord Alton, who is chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pro-Life, has responded in the Catholic Herald that: ‘It is profoundly disturbing, indeed shocking, to see the way in which opinion-formers within the medical profession have ditched the professional belief of the healer to uphold the sanctity of human life for this impoverished and inhumane defence of child destruction.’

This is indeed profoundly disturbing. But then what basis do humanist or secular ethicists have other than subjective criteria based upon human sentiment? It is indeed the Christian world view that values all people and upholds the sanctity of life, where transcendent moral laws are accepted as being given by the divine creator. For all their protestations, humanist and secularists invite us to live in a moral and lawless vacuum. The so-called Brave New World they invite us to live in is not a nice place at all.

2 comments:

John said...

I read Giubilini and Minerva's paper. Just a few comments.

1. On the issue of pre-natal screening, they mention the undetected abnormalities. They don't mention the false positives which, from the individual cases I've read, are only detected if the mother refuses to abort her child. I mean, which “doctor of death” is going to say, “Whoops! Sorry about that: he was healthy after all.”
2. At the end of the first page they contrast a Down's Syndrome child with a “normal” one. If it were sexuality they were discussing they'd eschew on politically correct grounds such categorisation and run with Kinseyian-speak that says there is no normal. In any case, John Sanford's 'Genetic Entropy' argues we're all abnormal. Quite naturally the incarnated Christ (along with pre-Fall Adam & Eve) is the only genetically normal human.
3. The most important clue to their argument lies in the quite circular definition of 'person' and its differentiation from being human. A person, they argue arbitrarily and tendentiously, is defined as such by their ability to make plans, have aims and being able to conceive that deprivation of life is a loss. Unable to, supposedly, conceive of a future etc eliminates that human from being called a person and therefore from possessing a “moral right to life”. How convenient.
4. They admit that their whole argument rests on “our definition” of 'person'. How self-righteous of them!
5. I don't think I've ever read a more childishly evasive, yet deliberately sophistically circular, argument than their attempt to rebut the quite reasonable criticism of applying their standard to themselves while in their own mothers' wombs. Their answer: Since we would have been aborted we wouldn't exist now and so no conversation would be taking place, now, and so no harm is done. I'd give them an F if they put that in a paper I was marking.
6. There is a nonsensical special pleading concerning future generations: because they will exist “we must treat them as actual persons of the future.” However, they go on to argue, we can't apply this escape clause to newborns because our decision determines whether they exist in the future. Surely the paper is an early April Fool's joke!

When I was a street welfare worker, one of my jobs was to take ill people from the street to hospitals in the city. One nurse at an Emergency Hospital told me she used to be an abortionist “nurse”. The “best” reason she heard from one woman for killing her kid was that “There's no room for a baby seat in the back of her Porsche.” The two philosophers' idea would allow that.

My wife asked me why would anyone bother to write such trash. My bet is that the lass has had an abortion or three and the bloke got one of his old flames pregnant and pushed her to abort. They both now feel uber-guilty and now want to justify their actions.

John said...

I read Giubilini and Minerva's paper. Just a few comments.

1. On the issue of pre-natal screening, they mention the undetected abnormalities. They don't mention the false positives which, from the individual cases I've read, are only detected if the mother refuses to abort her child. I mean, which “doctor of death” is going to say, “Whoops! Sorry about that: he was healthy after all.”
2. At the end of the first page they contrast a Down's Syndrome child with a “normal” one. If it were sexuality they were discussing they'd eschew on politically correct grounds such categorisation and run with Kinseyian-speak that says there is no normal. In any case, John Sanford's 'Genetic Entropy' argues we're all abnormal. Quite naturally the incarnated Christ (along with pre-Fall Adam & Eve) is the only genetically normal human.
3. The most important clue to their argument lies in the quite circular definition of 'person' and its differentiation from being human. A person, they argue arbitrarily and tendentiously, is defined as such by their ability to make plans, have aims and being able to conceive that deprivation of life is a loss. Unable to, supposedly, conceive of a future etc eliminates that human from being called a person and therefore from possessing a “moral right to life”. How convenient.
4. They admit that their whole argument rests on “our definition” of 'person'. How self-righteous of them!
5. I don't think I've ever read a more childishly evasive, yet deliberately sophistically circular, argument than their attempt to rebut the quite reasonable criticism of applying their standard to themselves while in their own mothers' wombs. Their answer: Since we would have been aborted we wouldn't exist now and so no conversation would be taking place, now, and so no harm is done. I'd give them an F if they put that in a paper I was marking.
6. There is a nonsensical special pleading concerning future generations: because they will exist “we must treat them as actual persons of the future.” However, they go on to argue, we can't apply this escape clause to newborns because our decision determines whether they exist in the future. Surely the paper is an early April Fool's joke!

When I was a street welfare worker, one of my jobs was to take ill people from the street to hospitals in the city. One nurse at an Emergency Hospital told me she used to be an abortionist “nurse”. The “best” reason she heard from one woman for killing her kid was that “There's no room for a baby seat in the back of her Porsche.” The two philosophers' idea would allow that.

My wife asked me why would anyone bother to write such trash. My bet is that the lass has had an abortion or three and the bloke got one of his old flames pregnant and pushed her to abort. They both now feel uber-guilty and now want to justify their actions.