ethics 101: (no longer offered at these institutions)

Bite on a bullet or leather strap as you read this.

Two ethicists working with Australian universities argue in the latest online edition of the Journal of Medical Ethics that if abortion of a fetus is allowable, so to should be the termination of a newborn.

Actually, I think the proper wording is,
“Since infanticide is murder, at what point is abortion murder?”

[In] “circumstances occur[ing] after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.”

Up through the age of eighteen, one presumes, although the authors avoided that pesky question.

[They] prefer the term “after-birth abortion“ as opposed to ”infanticide.” Why? Because it “[emphasizes] that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child.”

Depends on what the meaning of “morality” is, I reckon.
One might also interpret that to mean that the moral status of a fetus is comparable with that of a born “individual.” Keep diggin’, fellas.

[It's not] euthanasia [since] the best interest of the person who would be killed is not necessarily the primary reason his or her life is being terminated. In other words, it may be in the parents’ best interest to terminate the life, not the newborns.

Evidently, euthanasia is not a useful term for infanticide, so it’s not a moral issue but a semantics issue? Good head-fake, guys.
They’re actually saying that it’s for the family’s well-being, a social issue.

The circumstances … where after-birth abortion should be considered acceptable include instances where the newborn would be putting the well-being of the family at risk, even if it had the potential for an “acceptable” life. The authors cite Downs Syndrome as an example, stating that while the quality of life of individuals with Downs is often reported as happy, “such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and …

Wait for it …

… on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.” This means a newborn whose family (or society) that could be socially, economically or psychologically burdened or damaged by the newborn should have the ability to seek out an after-birth abortion. …

It’s a friggin’ government spending issue!
Cue Death Panels.

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.

I’m beginning to have my doubts about the term “ethicist” being applied to these guys, much less rational human beings.
Note: you do not prove your point by re-defining the words “moral,” “right,” and “life;”
and it’s not your friggin’ decision, anyway.

Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life. Indeed, many humans are not considered subjects of a right to life: spare embryos where research on embryo stem cells is permitted, fetuses where abortion is permitted, criminals where capital punishment is legal.

You left out people whom you defend yourself against by using deadly force, because they are trying to frikkin’ kill you. Ring a bell?
How is it ethical to label the truly innocent as morally equivalent to mass murderers?
In what universe ?

[The rights of] these “potential persons” [are] “over-ridden by the interests of actual people (parents, family, society) to pursue their own well-being because, as we have just argued, merely potential people cannot be harmed by not being brought into existence.”

What kind of twisted thought process* creates this kind of rationalization?
It is an attack on the definition of “rights,”
it is an attack on the concept of “morality,”
it is an insult to the pursuit of “ethics,” and
it is a perversion of the very idea of “humanity.”

* Rhetorical. Let’s not get into the Sorelian mythologies and totalitarianism, here.

40 Comments!

  1. Colonel Jerry USMC
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 1:21 pm |

    Does this guy wear a sweater, thick glasses and compliment himself in a mirror, overusing the words, “…Gosh darn it…”?

  2. joe
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 1:28 pm |

    When I was in junior high, I read a book (maybe a story) about a time in the future where children born with physical defects or born to poorer citizens would be confiscated at the hospital by the government. They were raised in huge orphanages and their organs/appendages were harvested for resale, mostly to aging bureaucrats and rich citizens. The most physically fit ones were sort of spliced together to make superior athletes, legs from this guy, arms from another, lungs from another….etc.etc.

    The smarter ones were allowed to keep enough appendages/organs to survive but their thoughts/ideas were the only reasons they were kept half live. Near the end they got to the point that all they had to keep of the smart ones were their brains living in jars and hooked to thought recording machines.

    Don’t recall the title or author…but it was pretty wierd for the early sixties, nowadays…not so much.

  3. Paul Moore
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:13 pm |

    Over the years, we have heard our objections dismissed as “slippery slope arguments”.
    Enjoy the ride.
    Any other geezers out there who think that death panels will be the final solution to the Social Security insolvency problem?

  4. SondraK, Queen of my domain
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:14 pm |

    I really don’t normally get too emotional about the abortion argument.

    It is what it is. My emotions don’t play into the fact that it is barbaric.

    This makes me cry.

  5. BarryS
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:19 pm |

    It would have been a lot easier if ALL libs and humanists were as honest as these guys are… we could have avoided the whole “slippery slope” thing in the first place (which ride is nearly over now folks).

  6. PeggyU
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:34 pm |

    Paul – I think they’ll just “fail” to produce sufficient flu and pneumonia vaccines, so that large numbers of elderly succumb during the flu season.

  7. Caged Insanity
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:41 pm |

    slippery slope my ass, this is just a short straight drop to where the government steps in and is given control as to whether or not a child is allowed to live.

    With Obama being re-selected this November, I will bet that we see legislation allowing the murder of newborns “for the greater good” within a decade, if not sooner.

  8. katzemeow
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:45 pm |

    I started reading this yesterday, It made me sick and I cried at the same time. I still haven’t been able to finish reading the whole article it remindeds of these two articles.

    Hitler’s Unwanted Children and The Nazi Doctors

    In one word EVIL

  9. DougM (jackassophobe)
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:48 pm |

    Missy (4)
    Yeah, of course it’s barbaric but it’s not new to civilization (see: Sparta and Rome, the exposure of infants).
    The tragedy of our times is that a lot of people won’t see it as barbaric.

  10. DougM (jackassophobe)
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:49 pm |

    Speaking of “slippery slope,”
    go read the arguments surrounding sex education in schools from the late-’50s/early-’60s.
    Every “oh, that won’t happen” is now routine.

  11. geezerette
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 2:49 pm |

    These ethicist should interview parents who’ve lost a child for what ever reason or have a child of their own and than tell the Dr. to kill it because they don’t want it—- I worked as a nurse on the obstetrics floor for 10 years and after witnessing the birth of a child I can’t imagine even the most black hearted person on earth who would not have one bit of regret for even thinking such a thing. Every one was a miracle. I took care of those new lives b/4 they went home with their families.

  12. mojo
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 3:08 pm |

    It’s not the ethics of it that bother me, that’s a problem for doctors. I don’t like it morally.

    Killing people is wrong. After that, it gets a little hazy, but that’s a good starting point.

    Do you have the “right” to kill an unborn human because it’s birth would be an inconvenience?
    No. Somebody, somewhere, would like to have that baby. Give it to them if you can’t handle the strain.

    And stop conflating ethics with morality while you’re about it.

  13. Susan Lee
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 3:11 pm |

    Our family had a Downs child when I was 13. I once asked my Mother what her first thoughts were… She said “Well, first, I prayed that he would live.” He is now 49 years old, lives with my baby Sis in VA and is the sweetest person you could imagine.

    Anyone who can get past the “Thou shalt not kill” part is totally missing the beauty of caring for a child with severe disabilities. Yeah, it’s awful sometimes, messy and painful… we all cried lots of tears as Danny grew older and wasn’t able to do so much that other kids his age could. Spent many days in total crying agony as he went thru several open-heart surgeries… But he is a gift to us in that we discover things about ourselves – wonderful things – as we stretch ourselves to love & care for this person who can’t talk, and can only understand Really Simple ideas… And- his capacity for love and affection are bottomless. He can love you beyond anything you can imagine – maybe- like God loves us?

    Susan Lee

    PS- can you tell I’m a Catholic? ;-))

  14. PeggyU
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 3:12 pm |

    ^ What mojo said!!!

  15. Ironic in Denver
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 4:02 pm |

    I don’t want to weigh in on the abortion thing, but I do have a question:
    unbearable burden… on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care…This means a newborn whose family (or society) that could be … economically … burdened or damaged by the newborn should have the ability to seek out an after-birth abortion. …Does this mean the state (or “society”) can liquidate persons that are an economic burden to the state?

    Wouldn’t that include everyone on welfare?

    How about free-spending politicians?

  16. DougM (jackassophobe)
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 4:22 pm |

    mojo (12)
    It won’t be medical doctors, but accountants, lawyers, and sociologists who’ll decide. Okay, maybe a Doctor Mengele or two, or a corps.

    Susan (13)
    I don’t see it a Catholic thing at all.
    I have no religion, personally, yet this offends and outrages me to my very core.

    I’m also wondering how the SCOTUS’s “right to privacy” thing is gonna play out, here.

  17. Posted February 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm |

    Susan Lee…. same here with a Darling Cousin, just passed away at age 56.

    As far as that Thou Shalt not Kill thing….. I’ve made exceptions to that in my past, and these Reprobates make me so mad that…..

    Oh nebbermind.

  18. Brad
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 5:03 pm |

    It is wrong to kill people.

    Ethicists, not so wrong.

  19. Mac Wade
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm |

    How we practice abortion isn’t healthy for our society. You can’t read the news without a lesson on how cheap life has become in America.

    And like JFK and the Challenger, I can tell you where I was and what I was doing when I became “pro life”.

  20. rickn8or
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm |

    Just when I think humans have hit absolute rock-bottom, they break out the pickaxes and go to work in the sub-basement.

  21. Posted February 28, 2012 at 7:01 pm |

    We hold these truths to be self evident, That all persons are created equal once we deem them to be a person, and as long as we deem them to be of some value (if however you become a burden on society all bets are off) and endowed with the alienable rights that the government wishes to grant.

  22. Posted February 28, 2012 at 7:05 pm |

    ^^ loved the the snark of “ALIENABLE” Rights!

  23. Melissa In Texas
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 7:12 pm |

    I read this on my lunch break and had to wait to respond, as I had to return to the office and behave normally… whatever that is.
    This is such a horrible, evil statement to how far we have fallen as a society, that this is even CONSIDERED!
    Death panels, obamacare, the integration and computerization of medical records all plays together to reach this end.
    I am sickened to the depths of my soul on this.

  24. snap-e-tom
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 7:22 pm |

    This has gotta be a joke….

    …no, I guess there really are people like that. I call them “psychopaths”.

  25. mech
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 8:06 pm |

    At first I had trouble reading this in an Australian accent.

    They started as a prison colony of 1940s germany?

    I didn’t think so.

  26. mech
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 8:29 pm |

    Baby Doe.

    Hey, it fits. I’m just on a music kick relating to these posts.

    As I was listening to the song I remembered that as a high school sophomore, I debated one of these supreme court decisions extemporaneously at Georgetown University.

    The students in the auditorium decided for me and for the baby.

    How about some humorous threads or maxim posts?

  27. SondraK, Queen of my domain
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 8:34 pm |

    Every time I hear ” it’s just a clump of cells” I remind them that so are they.

  28. dick, not quite dead white guy
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 9:57 pm |

    A couple of pseudo intellectuals playing mind games.
    No doubt they were students of Cass Sunnstein along the way.
    I have a big hate hardon for that guy, and now them.
    Ethicists my ass. These are the kind of guys who will parse words to a gnat’s eyelash to prove the sun won’t rise, just for fun.

  29. logdogsmith
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 10:59 pm |

    What I take as the main part of their argument, that there is no difference between ending the life of the born and ending the life of the unborn, I can agree with.

    Taking the life of the unborn is wrong, and wrangling over what developmental stage it becomes wrong at is trying to determine the lesser of two evils. It’s still evil.

  30. Spin
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 11:54 pm |

    It’s pretty hard to pump up the ‘tax base’ when you’re killing them in (or just out of) the womb.

    Maybe they have a lot of teh rich down-under to cover their ethical retirement.

  31. Maria Edi
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 3:49 am |

    “Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life.”

    Hey, down under mates, it applies to you, too.

    I used to like the aussies … Not anymore, not anymore …

  32. DougM (jackassophobe)
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:54 am |

    ^ Maria
    I think most Ozies wouldn’t mind if these fellers wandered off to feed a crocodile or two.

  33. Claire: barbarian, etc
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:56 am |

    “the moral status of the individual”

    “an “acceptable” life”

    “society … could be … psychologically burdened or damaged”

    “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”

    “Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life.”

    “merely potential people”

    just listing the phrases that actually gave me Teh Shivvvers….

  34. Colonel Jerry USMC
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 9:28 am |

    Claire,

    How bout we focus on the penultimate sentence and add *nonpotential* for these creeps?

    (…I spot; you shoot…)

  35. Paladin
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 12:12 pm |

    It’s not euthanasia since the best interest of the ethicist is not necessarily the primary reason his or her life is being terminated. In other words, it may be in good honest folks’ best interest to terminate the life, not the ethicists.

    Ethicists are potential persons, but not a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘basic morality that separate us from the common beast’. We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who possesses some modicom of common sense and decency who doesn’t redefine words in order to carry out some personal fetish with a fantastical science fiction world of horror. (i.e. their personal twisted version of some machiavellian utopia)

    It seems only fitting, therefore, to let the Ethicists’ own reasoning and intents that they wish to impose on others be applied to themselves with the natural conclusion of their “logic” to prevent such diabolical notions to gain public tolerance in the future.

    Because some things are just plain evil.

  36. DougM (jackassophobe)
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm |

    ColJ (34)
    Patience, sir, paaatience (comment #22).

  37. PromptCritical
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 6:57 pm |

    “A Modest Proposal”…

    Honestly, I think this particular article does more to help the pro-life crowd, than the pro-abortion crowd.

    This is one of the things I like about arguing ethics and philosophy. It’s a lot like debugging code: Using simple common cases does nothing. Only by subjecting the code (or ethical system) to situations designed to test the limits do any answers actually show up.

  38. DougM (jackassophobe)
    Posted March 1, 2012 at 11:24 am |

    ^ Prompt
    Re: “I think this particular article does more to help the pro-life crowd…”
    Indeed it does!
    It pretty much validates a pro-life point of view by, as you say, extending the argument into an inevitable hell-hole of an example.

  39. TheOldMan
    Posted March 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm |

    Should have started with those two as an example.

  40. Posted March 4, 2012 at 5:23 am |

    It’s a testament to our times that these vermin are coming out of the woodwork.

    http://rau.3littlefoxes.com/?p=289