This article from the UK Telegraph from late February summarizes (and links to) an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics which argues that “newborn babies are not ‘actual persons’ and do not have a ‘moral right to life’. The academics [Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva] also argue that parents should be able to have their baby killed if it turns out to be disabled when it is born.” Giubilini and Minerva “use the phrase ‘after-birth abortion’ rather than ‘infanticide’ to ‘emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus’.”
So less than 40 years after abortion on-demand was legalized in the US, we see an article in an academic journal making the argument that because abortion is morally acceptable, infanticide is also morally acceptable. For Christians who have opposed abortion for decades, this development is not surprising.
In their 1979 book Whatever Happened to the Human Race?, Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop wrote:
At a population control conference in Washington DC, as reported by editor-writer Norman Podhoretz, one speaker saw “no reason why anyone who accepted abortion should balk at infanticide.” Another urged certain medical qualifying tests for all newborns. These would determine their genetic characteristics and, thus, whether their right to life should for forfeited. Of course, at present only a few hold these ideas, but unfortunately they are presenting these ideas again and again. Taken a little more seriously each time, they become a little more thinkable each time….
Without the Judeo-Christian base which gives every individual an intrinsic dignity as made in the image of the personal-infinite Creator, each successive horror falls naturally in place. Combine arbitrary law (in which a small group of people may decide what is good for society at that moment of history) with the Supreme Court ruling on arbitrary abortion and the gates are opened for many kinds of killing under the guise of social good.
In his 1980 book The Right to Live, The Right to Die, Koop wrote:
It is, further, absolutely astounding to me that Justice Blackmun could have included the following sentence in his decision: “We need not resolve the question of when life begins.” Where does this lead? It leads to infanticide and eventually to euthanasia. If the law will not protect the life of a normal, unborn child, what chance does a newborn infant have after birth, if in the eyes of Justice Blackmun, he might be less than normal?…
Koop quoted James Watson, who wrote in an American Medical Association publication (in 1973): “If a child were not declared alive until three days after birth, then all parents could be allowed the choice only a few are given in the present system.” Koop also quoted Francis Crick (in a 1978 interview): “No newborn infant should be declared human until it has passed certain tests regarding its genetic endowment and that if it fails these tests, it forfeits the right to live.” So we can see scientific voices (Watson and Crick were Nobel laureates) arguing for infanticide decades ago.
In the US, we have seen our laws become increasingly arbitrary. In some states, euthanasia has been legalized. The Obama administration has given federal funding to embryonic stem cell research, where embryos are destroyed in the hope of finding medical cures. Perhaps a state will legalize infanticide, probably in limited circumstances at first. If this occurs, and the statute is challenged in the courts, how would the Supreme Court would rule on it? In all likelihood, the Court would make another arbitrary ruling.
Our nation has drifted further and further from a fundamental commitment to a God-given right to life, which we had recognized in our Declaration of Independence. If we continue on this path, we can anticipate successive horrors falling naturally in place.