Friday, March 2, 2012

"After-Birth Abortion"

Today the Age newspaper reported on an article published by two Melbourne academics on the ethics of killing new born babies.  The article,  in the Journal of Medical Ethics, was entitled "After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?"

What a perfect example of Orwellian language corrupting thought: killing new born babies is not 'infanticide' but 'after-birth abortion'. 

However it does seem that the entirely serious academics made a rational, reasonable  point:   a foetus in the womb is 'morally equivalent' to a new-born.  One might have thought they were pro-lifers.  But no, their position is reportedly built on the acceptability of late-term abortion: if you accept the premise that abortion is ethical, and there is moral equivalence between a newborn and a foetus, then the family's interests should override those of the newborn, and under the appropriate circumstances, a newborn baby should be killed too.  No doubt for psychosocial reasons, as can happen with the unborn in Victoria up to 40 weeks.

Let the adult collective decide who among the little people should be considered an 'unperson'.

I found the Age's spin in reporting this story to be macabre.  What they considered newsworthy was not that academics were promoting the (idea of) killing of newborn children for psychosocial reasons, but the death threats the academics reported.  Hence the Age's headline "Abortion paper lead to death threats'.   According to the Age, the academic paper was not about infanticide, but 'abortion'.  Because killing babies after they are born is not murder, but abortion.  Not killing, but just another form of termination.

A very different title for the article could have been:  "Infanticide paper says killing newborns OK".  However the Age decided not to present this to the public as a story about sober proposals by academics employed from the public purse to kill children, but about threats to academics.  Babies to be killed at the convenience of those older than them?  Not half so newsworthy as threats to the life of adult academics.

The academics found the threats offensive and called the police.  Quite understandable.  No-one likes death threats.  But if babies could call the police, would they not be asking for the academics to be arrested for threatening their lives in their publication? 

This raises an interesting question: from the worldview of the Age newspaper, for which class(es) of human persons, whether they exist inside or outside the womb, should it be lawful, rational and reasonable for academics, writing in the sober prose of prestigious journals, to argue for their termination?   

What a morally wobbly world.  Will not our  successors in future generations contemplate all we have achieved in the way of progress, and, reflecting among other things upon our abuse of language, weep bitterly over our moral state?