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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Journal of Medical Ethics Imitates South Park (By Advocating “After-Birth Abortions”)

I have only started to read the article by Alberto Guibilini and Francesca Minerva, entitled (risibly) After-Birth Abortion: why should the baby live?, but it is so full of evil I am likely to fisk it at a spare moment.  Seriously, it is so bad that it falls into a rare exception to Godwin’s Law.  As you might know, Godwin’s law stands as an injunction against comparing anyone or any policy to Hitler, the Nazis, etc.  But there is an exception: when they actually sound like Nazis.

You know, like this:

Euthanasia in infants has been proposed by philosophers for children with severe abnormalities whose lives can be expected to be not worth living and who are experiencing unbearable suffering....

Although it is reasonable to predict that living with a very severe condition is against the best interest of the newborn, it is hard to find definitive arguments to the effect that life with certain pathologies is not worth living, even when those pathologies would constitute acceptable reasons for abortion. It might be maintained that ‘even allowing for the more optimistic assessments of the potential of Down's syndrome children, this potential cannot be said to be equal to that of a normal child’.  But, in fact, people with Down's syndrome, as well as people affected by many other severe disabilities, are often reported to be happy.

Nonetheless, 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. On these grounds, the fact that a fetus has the potential to become a person who will have an (at least) acceptable life is no reason for prohibiting abortion. Therefore, we argue that, when circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.

So living with a “severe condition” including Down’s Syndrome is not really in the interest of the person with that disability.  But they aren’t willing to endorse killing a full “person” with Down’s but if you can kill a fetus for having Down’s then it is fully justifiable to kill a newborn for the same reason.

See what I mean?  Its evil stuff.

And I actually shivered at the phrase “lives can be expected to be not worth living” given how similar it sounded to the phrase “life unworthy of life” used by the Nazis when justifying first the murder of the handicapped and then later the slaughter of the Jews.

Although to their (limited) credit their use of the term “after birth abortion” is acknowledged to be bull____ designed to make the concept more palatable than the correct term which is infanticide:

In spite of the oxymoron in the expression, we propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide’, to emphasise 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.

Which is where life truly becomes absurd.  Because did you know that South Park has a parody of this?  Here’s a scene from an unofficial script that lines up with my memory of the episode, when Mrs. Cartman decides to get an abortion:

Liane:              I want to have… an abortion.

Receptionist:   Uoh well, we can do that. This must be a very difficult time for you, Mrs.…

Liane:              Cartman. Yesuh- it's such a hard decision, but I just don't feel I can raise a child in this screwy world.

Receptionist:   Yes, Ms. Cartman-if you don't feel fit to raise a child, then abortion probably is the answer. Do you know the actual time of conception?

Liane:              About - eight years ago.

Receptionist:   [processing] …I sseee, so the fetus is…

Liane:              Eight years old.

Receptionist:   Ms. Cartman, uh- eight years old is a little late to be considering abortion.

Liane:              Really?!

Receptionist:   Yes- this is what we would refer to as the - "fortieth trimester"

Liane:              But I just don't think I'm a fit mother.

Receptionist:   Wuh… But we prefer to abort babies a little- …earlier on; in fact, there's a law against abortions after the second trimester.

Liane:              Well, I think you need to keep your laws off of my body.

Receptionist:   Hmmmmm. Tsk, I'm afraid I can't help you, Ms. Cartman-if you want to change the law, you'll have to speak with your congressman.

Liane:              [rises from the chair] Well, that's exactly what I intend to do! Good day! [exits]

So yeah, they are proposing what South Park already parodied... in 1998.  I mean that episode had Mrs. Cartman sleeping with various politicians in order to lobby them to change the law, including...  President Bill Clinton.  That is how old that parody is.

I think the only thing left to do, is show a South Park facepalm…

Really, words are failing me on this one.

(H/t: Hot Air.)


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  1. It's probably worth mentioning that the authors of the article are from New Zealand, where abortions are legal only in the most extreme circumstances, and therefore extremely rare. The concept of an after-birth abortion probably sounds less wacky to a New Zealanders ear than it does to us, because abortions are, frankly, hard to get (it requires two doctors to sign off on, etc.)

    They might have better traction with an American audience by talking about it terms of Schiavo-like "mercy killings", rather than the term "after-birth abortions".

    1. What the fork does being from NZ have to do with it. IMHO all that means is we call these people "The Rotten Kiwis". I'm not qualified to pontificate about the abortion laws as they currently exist. They only effect the fairer sex right now. But there are supposed to be standards - universal moral standards mories i think the academics call them. That are hard to get around No Murder being the big one. An article like this is the first step in training people to suspend these. It's what the Nazi's did at first, and it's why the anti abortion people fight so hard because in their minds the taboo is in effect