March 31st 2012

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Articles from this issue:

QUEENSLAND: After the deluge: Anna Bligh's legacy

CANBERRA OBSERVED: The origins of Labor's visceral loathing of Abbott

EDITORIAL: Swan's budget surplus to depend on mining tax

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Radical green strategy to sabotage Australian coal-mines, railways and ports

CHILDHOOD: Same-sex marriage set to transform our schools


EAST TIMOR: Election swing against Gusmão government

HUMAN RIGHTS: Academics who rationalise post-natal murder

POPULATION: Seven billion reasons to celebrate

OPINION: America: Russia's Afghan catspaw

OPINION: School textbook misleads about Crusades

WEIMAR GERMANY: Why art flourished and democracy perished


DOCUMENTARY: Lifting the veil on the global sex industry
Nefarious: Merchant of Souls (96 minutes)

CINEMA: Nihilism filtered through teen angst

BOOK REVIEW Rescuing history from Christianity's detractors

BOOK REVIEW The great class divide in the United States

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Academics who rationalise post-natal murder

by Patrick Morgan

News Weekly, March 31, 2012

A recent article in the English Journal of Medical Ethics has argued that new-born babies may be killed because they are “morally irrelevant”, are not “actual persons” and have no “moral right to life”, London’s Daily Telegraph reported on February 29.

The co-authors start from the position of Professor Peter Singer that there is no such thing as a human essence with inalienable rights. A new-born baby to them is just like a foetus: “both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual”.

As a result the authors argue that it is “not possible to damage a newborn by preventing her from developing the potentiality to become a person in the morally relevant sense”. This means that a defenceless baby can be disposed of, and that, remarkably, killing it does not damage it. They conclude: “what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled”.

The present dubious arguments for abortion, which society has unfortunately given in to, are now being extended beyond the foetus stage. This is a classic case of the “thin edge of the wedge” or the “slippery slope”. Against its better judgement society accepts one argument, only to find it has committed itself to something worse — post-natal murder.

The article is so spectacularly blatant that it will be counter-productive, since it has let the cat out of the bag. It shows with absolute clarity the logical outcome of abortion arguments, and of Peter Singer’s infanticide views. Proponents of both those positions, who have tried for decades to disguise their real ends by obfuscation, will not thank the authors for their baby-killing article.

My advice is that when you come across a person who labels himself an “ethicist”, be very afraid. With the decline of the acceptance of religious values, secularists are now trying to impose on us their own new “morality” by dressing it up as ethical. Hence the paradox that killing is justified in “ethical” terms, a view reminiscent of the slogan from George Orwell’s futuristic novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four: “Freedom is Slavery”.

When the article appeared, some people naturally tried to refute its arguments. Then the journal’s editor announced that the authors had received death threats. This was a tactic to divert attention from the main issue. The authors had initially made a provocative, aggressive argument, and when challenged, they now claim they are the victims not the aggressors. This is role-reversal, a pretence that they are the ones suffering, not the babies they now give society the moral permission to kill.

It gets worse. The editor of the journal described those who objected as “fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society”. In other words, those who allow baby-killing are “liberals”, but we who defend defenceless human lives are condemned as “fanatics”. The editor described objectors to the article as “a group of people who know who the witch is and seek to burn her.… It leads to genocide and lynching.... there is a drive to silence and, in the extreme, to kill”.

So we, who are against killing, by a strange twist of logic end up as the genocidal, killing, lynch-mob, and he and the authors as the pure innocent liberals.

It gets even worse. The UK Daily Telegraph article tells us that one of the authors, Francesca Minerva, took up a position last June at (surprise! surprise!) Melbourne University’s Centre for Practical Ethics, a body associated with Peter Singer, and the other author, Alberto Giubilini, at Monash University (surprise! surprise!), which for many years supported the activities of both Peter Singer and the late Dr Carl Wood.

The editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics, Professor Julian Savulescu, who made the statement on (non-existent) witch-hunts and lynch-mobs, “worked at both universities before moving to Oxford in 2002”. It seems likely the two authors will use their new positions here to get institutional backing for whatever “ethical” project they think up next.

The city of Melbourne has the runs on the board when it comes to producing the world’s leading progressive gurus: Peter Singer, inventor of infanticide ethics; Germaine Greer, co-founder of feminism; and Dr Carl Wood, inventor of the technique which led to in vitro births and now the whole field of bio-technology, bio-ethics and cloning.

Melbourne and Monash universities regularly issue glossy PR magazines telling their graduates and supporters what a wonderful job they are doing. I trust their vice-chancellors will announce to the universities’ donors these two new staff appointments, and their CVs, and watch the money roll in — or dry up.

Patrick Morgan edited two volumes of the writings of B.A. Santamaria. 

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