A is not A

by Circle or Line

After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? Alberto Giubilini, Francesca Minerva, Journal of Medical Ethics.

Alberto Giubilini 1, 2
Francesca Minerva 3, 4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Philosophy, University of Milan, Milan, Italy
2 Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
3 Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
4 Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Oxford University, Oxford, UK


Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

Mark Shea:

I sometimes despair of the value of argument. There are moments–and this is one, I fear–where a civilized society would take St. Louis’ advice, take such people, and “stick a sword through them as far as it will go”. When the intellect itself is so corrupt as to deploy all its artillery in the defense of cold-blooded baby slaughter, it becomes extremely difficult to engage it. It reminds me of the demon-possessed Weston in Perelandra, by turns clever (angels are, recall, superior intellects) and idiotic (Weston: “Ransom. Ransom. Ransom” Ransom: “WHAT?” Weston: “Nothing.”), utterly committed to the denial of life and God. What appalling evil. It requires exorcism, not argument. It must be expelled.

And yet, in a world where fools are not yet committed to such evil, but prone to become so when the devil’s minions make clever arguments, I suppose it must be argued with. But how in hell do you argue in such a way as to supply fundamental moral intuitions to blithering moral idiots? If a person can’t see that slitting an infant’s throat is a Bad Thing, what possible method of moral suasion can be used to make a moral imbecile–and particularly a highly educated moral imbecile–capable of the sense God gave a goose? I sometimes begin to suspect that the violence of the Old Testament was sometimes the only language fallen man could understand and that treatises on ethics for cretins who hurled babies into the flames were not as educational as the siege, famine, slaughter and exile God in fact permitted in his providence.

Don’t take that as a thought. Just as a cry of pain. We are a civilization facing an awful reckoning. Be glad I’m not God.

But in case you think this is a new issue, reconsider. After-birth infanticide has always been with us. Population Research Institution President Steven Mosher testifies before the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the House Committee on the Judiciary on December 7th, 2011, on the topic of sex-selective abortion:

Consider also that the primary apparatus of the West’s understanding of foreign culture has now been definitively established to be “cultural relativism.”

Cultural relativism is the principle that an individual human’s beliefs and activities are understood by others in terms of that individual’s own culture. This principle was established as axiomatic in anthropological research by Franz Boas in the first few decades of the 20th century and later popularized by his students. Boas first articulated the idea in 1887: “…civilization is not something absolute, but … is relative, and … our ideas and conceptions are true only so far as our civilization goes.”

Franz Boas argued that:

in order to understand “what is” — in cultural anthropology, the specific cultural traits (behaviors, beliefs, and symbols) – one had to examine them in their local context.

In Boas work, he argued for an approach that:

considers every phenomena as worthy of being studied for its own sake. Its mere existence entitles it to a full share of our attention; and the knowledge of its existence and evolution in space and time fully satisfies the student.

Since Boas’ anthropology has been firmly established as the scientifically valid approach in the academy, “cultural relativism” has ceased to become a term of art and is now, in fact, scientific dogma. Alternative approaches to this issue, such as that of Lloyd deMause, have remained marginalized.

And so we are left with:

necessity, what Milton called ‘the tyrant’s plea’ to excuse the crime, specifically that it is necessary for the innocent baby to die so that society will not have to go to the expense and effort of raising and caring for him, and effort which is (in a summary fashion) labeled ‘unbearable’.

Apparently, in Cloudcuckooland, homo sapiens give birth to a transitional form of life which is non-human, but which becomes human either at the age of seven years, or when when the skull clears the birth canal, or when the mother or a judicial body bestows whatever Linnaean taxonomic classification on the organism whim sees fit: I do not see why a mother, if it is she who decided if her baby is homo sapiens, cannot with equal godlike authority declare him to be a spaniel or a goldfish instead. This makes us the only known species who does not reproduce itself directly, but instead engages another species, creatures called fetuses, to produce us.

Ah! But we who know grammar-school biology, we are the mystics and nutbags cruelly attempting to tyrannize the mother, and rob her of her rightful magic powers to decree that humans are livestock, babies are parasites, A is not A.