CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Infanticide Again

Feb 28, 2012

When academics call for baby killing, you know we have reached the outer limits of the moral atmosphere. Our mighty intellects, who are supposed to be training the next generation both mentally and morally, are often instead doing a great disservice.

To be well educated is certainly no guarantee of general intelligence or wisdom. To have a string of letters after one’s name is obviously not a sign of high moral acumen. Tragically we often have some of the most morally deficient and intellectually lacklustre positions being argued for by our academics.

And when these people try to make a learned case for baby killing, we have proof that all is not well in academia. Today’s press presents us with yet another frightening example of this. Two more Melbourne-based academics are enlightening us on the case for infanticide. More on this in a moment.

But sadly this has been occurring for some time now. One of these profs is from Monash University. We of course have had other advocates of baby killing from Monash, most notably Peter Singer. He is now at Princeton University in the US, but he began his notorious career here in Melbourne.

He is a long standing advocate of not only abortion and euthanasia, but infanticide as well.  He believes the new born must not automatically be considered to be persons, and they must be tested to see who should live and who should die. But I discuss him elsewhere, for example: billmuehlenberg.com/1996/10/14/peter-singer-and-the-gospel-of-death/

So here we have two more “ethicists” telling us that the newborn are not persons, and are therefore fair game for killing. One article introduces things this way: “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 too should be the termination of a newborn.

“Alberto Giubilini with Monash University in Melbourne and Francesca Minerva at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne write that in “circumstances occur[ing] after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.”

Yes we have heard all this before. Not only by academics like Singer, but earlier experts and academics said similar things. A major element leading up to the “Final Solution” in Germany was the notion that some people – indeed whole classes of people – are not persons.

Decades prior to the Holocaust there were many academic positions and pronouncements which prepared the way for what Hitler and the Nazis did. For example in 1895 the German legal scholar Alfred Jost wrote an influential volume, The Right to Die. And in 1904 the German Society for Racial Hygiene was formed.

Of special importance was the publication in 1920 of Alfred Hoche and Karl Binding’s Die Freigabe der Vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens (The Authorization of the Destruction of Life Unworthy of Life). Here was promoted the concept of “lives not worth living”. The book spoke of the “incurable feebleminded” who should be killed. It all led nicely to Hitler’s Mein Kampf (1925-1926).

State-sponsored euthanasia was called for, with the idea that many humans had to be excluded from those deserving the right to life. Other writings appeared, with much discussion especially in the German medical community. All this helped pave the way for the Nazi programs when they came to power in the early 1930s.

As Henry Friedlander says in the opening of his important book, The Origins of Nazi Genocide, “Nazi genocide did not take place in a vacuum. Genocide was only the most radical method of excluding groups of human beings from the German national community. The policy of exclusion followed and drew upon more than fifty years of scientific opposition to the equality of man.”

But back to our two Melbourne academics. They state this in their defence of infanticide: “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.”

The Nazi doctors would have been proud of such rhetoric. But anyone exercising some intellectual and moral clarity would see just how slippery such weasel words are. The authors do not establish what they are seeking to argue for: the non-personhood of certain humans: they simply assert it. That an argument does not make.

The case for the non-personhood of these classes of humans has not been made. They simply take a backward step in ethical reasoning: proceeding from what is to what ought to be. They assume description should lead to prescription. They think that if we are already killing some human beings, then it must be morally acceptable.

They of course have things back to front here. We first should be examining the moral and ontological status of these groups. We should determine if they are in fact persons. And if they are, then of course killing them is quite wrong. It is not my intent here to argue that case. I and others have sought to do that elsewhere.

The fact that embryos are now being destroyed does not mean it is morally licit. That which is legal is not always moral. As just noted, it was quite legal in Nazi Germany to kill all sorts of classes of human beings. But that legality did not mean it was therefore morally right.

The same is true of the unborn child. Simply declaring that such a human is a non-person is not based on science, it is a philosophical precommitment. In Singer’s case it is utilitarianism and pragmatism. He has simply assumed ahead of time that certain groups are non-persons, and can therefore be bumped off at will.

And these two academics also have great misunderstandings about the nature of capital punishment. No one argues that those warranting the death penalty have somehow become non-persons. It is exactly because they are persons, and have committed heinous crimes against other persons (such as murder), that the state takes these issues so seriously.

So we have three cases appealed to by these ethicists, and none of them stand up under scrutiny. We simply have the same old story of some intellects and academics telling us that certain people are not persons, and therefore must forfeit the right to life.

They have simply made a pronouncement based on their secular utilitarian worldview. They have not established their case, and they have not proved in any sense of the term that the unborn and others are in fact non-persons. But by lending more intellectual and professional credibility to the case for baby killing, they make it seem all the more acceptable, and will undoubtedly sway many.

This is a great abuse of medical ethics and the academic community. Using the classroom and scholarly journals to make the case – coolly and calmly – for baby killing is not an indication of professionalism and progress. It is a sign of barbarism and regress. And we have seen it happen all before.

Have we not yet learned the lessons of history? Apparently not.

www.theblaze.com/stories/ethicists-argue-in-favor-of-after-birth-abortions-as-newborns-are-not-persons/

[1201 words]

37 Responses to Infanticide Again

  • The phrase “circumstances occur[ing] after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.” horrifies me. For how long after birth would this be permissible? 5 minutes, 5 years, 5 decades? Once the principle was in place, it would be easy to change the time limit.
    The worst part about the justification of abortion to my mind is the paperwork. If I understand correctly, two doctors should sign a form saying that there is a risk to the mental health of the woman if the abortion does not occur. With the large number of abortions occurring, there are two possibilities:
    a) there is a huge mental health problem in fertile age women. If so, why isn’t it being addressed by the mental health system?
    b) doctors are deliberately falsifying the justification paperwork.
    Either way, a concerted response is deserved in the health system.
    John Bennett

  • Yes quite right John.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I would be fascinated to hear the ‘intellectual’ backflips some of our ‘enlightened ones’ would use to distinguish between post birth abortion and their opposition to capital punishment. After all it’s just a matter of years and considering Singer’s Utilitarian pragmatism against that backdrop why not?

    Should a ‘gay gene’ be identified and the mother would have aborted for that reason before birth would they then justify post birth abortion on those grounds thereafter? After all ‘it’s a woman’s right’ ?

    I’d imagine we’d witness Olympian intellectual gymnastic backflips to escape those questions.

    Doug Holland

  • Thanks Doug

    Yes that is an excellent point indeed. Likely most of the secular left champions of abortion, euthanasia, and now infanticide, would be dead set against the death penalty. But logical consistency and moral soundness are not always the hallmarks of these guys.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill.
    On the bright side WA are introducing laws to make causing the death of infants in the womb illegal. (except for abortion, which is a contradiction in itself)
    www.smh.com.au/wa-news/unborn-babies-given-recognition-in-new-laws-20120226-1tw4n.html

    Regards
    Lionel Hart

  • To me this is a magnificent reductio of the argument for abortion as they are merely highlighting that there isn’t much distinction, morally, between the case for abortion and the case for infanticide.

    But the argument should be flipped;

    1) Infanticide is morally wrong (to me this is intuitively obvious but not to many of the ‘educated’)
    2) Abortion is morally indistinguishable from infanticide
    3) Therefore abortion is morally wrong

    Damien Spillane

  • The Roman Law of the Twelve Tables dictated that “Deformed infants shall be killed’. The Roman philosopher Cicero echoed his support for this view. Apparently both Plato and Aristotle both recommended infanticide as state policy. Seneca didn’t seem to bothered about it either. And here was I thinking philosophy was the study of wisdom.

    Just shows humanity goes full circle given time and all these ‘progressive’ ideas are really old ones revamped. Unsurprisingly the Bible is shown correct again re human nature – Ecclesiastes 1:19 – there is nothing new under the sun.

    Perhaps the Melbournian death duo philosophers should be glad that their respective births were not considered as putting their parents well being at risk.

    Doug Holland

  • The author’s email address is
    [email protected]

    Why not send her a polite message and let her know what we all think of her views?

    Jereth Kok

  • Hippocrates was quite clear in his original Hippocratic Oath that physicians were required on oath to ‘Never do harm to anyone.’
    It continues with: ‘I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.’
    The oath was taken very seriously as a religious as well as civic duty to protect the public from people such as these unethical ethicists.
    Eugenicists, the KKK, Hitler, the Imperial Japanese Army (and others) have well known that a philosophical or military war has often required that people be stripped of their humanity by various nefarious, even though at times sanctioned as legal, ways. Once a human being is perceived as less than human, it has been much easier to manipulate people to destroy the so described ‘sub-human.’
    If (and this is doubtful) these ethicists had taken the Ancient Hippocratic Oath, they would also have been bound by the curse at the end of it for those who broke the Oath:
    ‘If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all humanity and at all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my life.’
    Michael Evans

  • Hi Bill,
    As you are the academic here, I make the suggestion that you disemble the ideologies that lead to the holocaust, write a paper paraphrasing and rewording the nazi’s own writings, submit it, with copies going to these three people for their perusal and remarks. Then expose to the world that they are attempting to rehash nazi germany holocaust.

    I think that this might actualy be the only way to make some people sit up and listen, others there is no hope for. But hopefuly you might be able to actualy get rid of some of the lowest forms of life known to human kind from sprouting their vile venom. Its really the only thing that I can think of to force them to see the rehashing to nazism. Just a thought.

    Neil Waldron

  • Thanks Neil

    Yes might not be a bad idea. Will give it some consideration.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Of course this is not a slippery slope argument. It is obvious we have not learnt anything from the episode of recent history with what the Nazi’s did. They devalued life and thus became the arbitrators off who is worthy to live. I would have thought we would have learnt from such a dark history, but we haven’t. “Those who do not know history are destined to repeat it.” Edmund Burke. He also said, “All for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
    Ian Nairn

  • Thanks Ian

    Yes the Burke quote abut evil is something we all need to be reminded of. The first quote is also great, however it is actually from Santayana. Interestingly, in the article I wrote just before this one, I used that quote in my opening paragraph: billmuehlenberg.com/2012/02/27/modern-day-marcionism/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Monash University? Sounds more like these people are affiliated with Moloch University…

    Ken Abbott
    Maryland, USA

  • As a mother of 6 children I have often wondered what kind of human being could take part in a late term abortion. Now I cannot even begin to imagine what kind of person could kill an already born child. What is being promoted as a woman’s choice is simply mental illness and evil disguised as rights and mercy. Animals are becoming as protected as people while people are losing their right to live.
    Colleen Gleason

  • Yes quite right Ken!
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I am with you Colleen.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • So now it turns out that if you think it may not be a good thing to kill newborn babies you are guilty of “hate speech”. Isaiah 5:20 sure comes to mind here:

    www.lifesitenews.com/news/shock-ethicists-justify-infanticide-in-major-medical-journal?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=67f1dd4545-LifeSiteNews_com_Intl_Headlines_02_28_2012&utm_medium=email

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Isn’t it interesting how the advocates of evil always cite an earlier accepted “minor” evil as justification?
    The ssm people cite heterosexual sin eg co-habitation which appears to be acceptable even among Christians maybe not according to our confession, but according to our actions, as an excuse to justify ssm.
    Likewise these infanticide advocates cite the practice of embryonic cloning as just such a justification for their argument. Reminds me of the garden of Eden. First Satan tempted with a very small and harmless looking thing, I mean, what harm can the eating of a fruit do? Then, once that objective is gained it will be forever used as something to bare the way back to holiness. “you have already done it, you might as well go another step further…” It seems to me we must mind God’s plumb line and not shift from it. That requires that we first understand the heart of the lawgiver in order to defend and not depart from His law.
    Are the children of darkness more knowledgeable of what God’s law is than are His own children?

    I am not sure if I said this before, but a really good movie is “Come what may”. It explains how when we take things back to the beginning, we find that the major event in a person’s existence is the event of his or her conception. The WA law, though good and really an extension of existing criminal law, highlights again that in this day in age the “wanted ” children are safe and protected while the “unwanted” are not. Don’t we know that we all “wanted” by God?
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  • Re WA’s new laws.

    I am waiting for the day when a woman on her way to an abortion clinic is in a car accident and miscarries her child. Will the guilty party be punished? On what grounds? Why is it wrong for somebody to cause the death of an unborn baby through violence or careless use of a vehicle but not to use abortive methods to kill it in utero?

    My atheist friend who watched the same TV clip could immediately see the anomaly.

    Lucy Zubova

  • Dear Bill,
    well done, yet again.

    The track record of eugenicists is revealing: www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2006/06/rpg-61206-i-was-wrong-about-pe

    Gerard Flood

  • If these ‘intellectuals’ really valued their ‘arguments’, perhaps they should witness the results first hand. Better still, volunteer to be test cases.
    Surely they may have a faulty gene themselves.

    May God have mercy on them and give them a major truth burst !!

    Robyn Munro

  • Hey Bill

    On the February 17th you sent a few of us the following link below. It isn’t half relevant to this article of yours! What’s the old saying: ‘Never was a truer word than said in jest!’

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeKwz9W8oWs

    We just need to get our half decent pollies to make the appropriate amendments if the Bill every comes up!

    Another strategy I would like to articulate. This strategy assumes capital punishment has a legitimate place in society. I also note in another link below that you also support capital punishment, as well as indicating that the case for it is more controversial among Christians than say abortion. See:
    billmuehlenberg.com/2007/10/11/on-capital-punishment-part-1/
    The point I am making however is that Christians on both sides ought to support the following tactic, on the grounds that it enables a clear call for mercy to children to be powerfully given.

    This strategy would be as follows. When our opponents within our various Australian states keep pressing their nefarious legislations, those who claim to be on the side of what is right ought to be encouraged to introduce and re-introduce private members Bills for capital punishment (for crimes, such as murder, when beyond reasonable doubt). It would sends a very strong message. After all, something like 70% of the population would like to see this re-introduced. Unfortunately, while unlikely to ever pass, such a parliamentary approach would uncover the social hypocrisy of our so-called enlightened leaders. These hypocrites are always claiming a monopoly on mercy; when they are really only ever promoting diabolical selfishness.

    Titus 1 v 9 talks about the need for leaders to be able to refute their opponents. Our godly parliamentary leaders need to find ways to refute the endless folly being promulgated. Should they allow the reprehensible to play this game and take unfair advantage? Unfortunately, so much of parliament has to do with things like filibustering; instead of reasoned argument. Hence I put to you that this proposal is worth serious consideration.

    Sincerely
    Christopher McNicol

  • Thanks Bill for your huge commitment to revealing the truth.
    May I suggest to those who want to do something about abortion, that they join 40 Days for Life?
    It’s a world-wide campaign with a vision to access God’s power through prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigil to end abortion.
    www.40daysforlife.com/melbourne
    Lien van der Velden

  • Regarding the change to W.A. law – If a woman is assaulted on her way to the abortion clinic and her baby dies as a result, will the attacker be held guilty of murder?
    Oh what a monstrous absurdity of mental gymnastics is displayed here by our attorney general!!
    Let us hope the insane doublespeak involved here will cause people to reflect more carefully on the reality of what abortion means for the innocent victims of this brutal slaughter.
    Anna Cook

  • I covered the Nazi period at school. My schoolmates called me the little Nazi, because I responded to their comments that “It couldn’t happen here.” by saying it darn well could. They thought I was way too pro-German; I didn’t see overmuch difference between a fallen human being (Brit) and a fallen human being (German) and thought that given similar circumstances we might well have gone the same way. (I have since read much more detail and now think that there may have been particular vulnerabilities in Germany; of one thing I am sure: in order to keep your head in the Third Reich you needed a very strong faith – the same point is made in Gitta Sereny’s biography of Albert Speer and the remark that the opposite of believing in God is not believing in nothing but believing in anything comes to mind, too).

    “Salvation is from the Jews” by Roy Schoeman, published by Ignatius Press cites reference to Hitler’s having been involved in some ritual dedication to the Devil (in around 1923-24) which doesn’t surprise me, though I haven’t checked the source he quotes itself. He also gives some useful background about what made the rise of the Nazis possible. Eugenics was very fashionable at the turn of the last century, not only in Germany, but in the UK and America, too.

    Ann Couper-Johnston

  • Lucy,

    Scott Klusendorf discussed an even tighter scenario similar to the one you’ve presented, where a woman driving to the abortion clinic has a car accident just down the road with the very person who was also driving to the clinic to perform the abortion. In the scenario, the practitioner is at fault and the accident causes the unborn baby to die. He then explains that in some States in the US where it was legal to perform abortions, the practitioner could still be charged even though moments later he/she intended to kill the child in the clinic.

    As far as real cases like this in Australia. One comes to mind because I remember writing about it. If Bill will permit me, here is the link to my article along where you will also find a the link to the case in point.
    aristophrenium.com/duane/devils-demons-and-double-standards/#more-1058

    Then if you scroll to the bottom of the article, my colleague, Mathew Hamilton comments:
    “In the Melbourne’s The Age… a story was run about a mother who lost her daughter in utero while involved in a car accident. The driver at fault was charged only with injury to the mother, but VicRoads counted the death of the unborn child towards its official state road toll. So the driver escapes any charges of causing death but our road authority treats the unborn as a victim of a major collision!”

    I commend it to you for further reading. Links are provided in his comment.

    Duane Proud

  • Thanks guys

    The logic of abortion is the logic of infanticide. The case for abortion must always lead to the case for infanticide. Some pro-lifers are hoping that these new calls for infanticide will mean a real setback for the pro-abortion position. Sadly however, the truth is, the pro-death mob will be just as willing to endorse infanticide as they are abortion. Instead of being shocked by the logic of their own position, they will simply dig their heels in further.

    For proof of this, simply go to OLO where my infanticide article has been posted. Check out the comments underneath it! These guys are not mad at infanticide, they are mad at me for even daring to raise this issue! They are even saying I have no right to speak on these matters!: www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13312

    Please fell free to post some comments there, thanks.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • This story is now getting lots of international attention. See here for example:

    www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9113394/Killing-babies-no-different-from-abortion-experts-say.html

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • How could a woman justify killing a baby. Obviously she doesn’t have kid’s herself and as a mum who has lost two babies, it horrify’s me to think she would burden any parent with the death of a baby through choice. Orwell is closer to being fact not fiction.
    Bree Wills

  • Yes you got that right Bree.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I’ve taken Jereth’s suggestion and also suggested on facebook that trauma to the mother would be far worse than that of adoption.
    I hope you gave the email correctly or someone will wonder what gives.

    Katherine Fishley

  • Another great piece on this is here:

    www.albertmohler.com/2012/03/06/something-deadly-this-way-comes-after-birth-abortion/

    “This article in the Journal of Medical Ethics is a clear signal of just how much ground has been lost to the Culture of Death. A culture that grows accustomed to death in the womb will soon contemplate killing in the nursery. The very fact that this article was published in a peer-reviewed academic journal is an indication of the peril we face. For years now, pro-life activists have been lectured that “slippery slope” arguments are false. This article makes clear the fact that our warnings have not been based in a slippery slope argument, but in the very reality of abortion. Abortion implies infanticide. If the unborn child lacks sufficient moral status by the fact that it is unborn, then the baby in the nursery, it is now argued, has also not yet developed human personhood.”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I write about these matters further here in this new article:

    billmuehlenberg.com/2012/03/07/the-horrific-face-of-the-culture-of-death/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I can’t help but think that they undermined the whole argument presented in their paper when when they used the lotto ticket analogy in the section talking about the relativity of harm. The whole concept is like a house of cards anyway; using current abortion practices as their foundation. I must admit I do agree with them that infanticide is on a similar moral plane as abortion. I hope this causes people to examine the morality of on demand abortion rather than that of infanticide.
    Will Taylor

  • Quite right Will.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Is there no way for these people advocating these things to get locked up for attempting to incite murder?

    If one of us were to suggest that someone should be killed, would it not attract some sort of criminal penalty?

    Or does PHD give one the license to state who has the right to live or die?

    Mario Del Giudice

Leave a Reply