What does an Australian seminary professor, an Australian ethicist, a British doctor, and four Southern Baptist pastors all have in common? Well, they have banded together to launch an initiative called Protecting Infants (PI). The mission of PI is to advocate against the introduction of infanticide into clinical practices. The mission entails critically engaging philosophical arguments put forward to justify infanticide, drawing attention to incidents where infanticide is occurring, and fostering public opposition against the practice of infanticide. Our driving concern is that, internationally, a coalition of abortion providers and militant secularists are actively driving our culture towards a paradigm that attempts to justify the seemingly unjustifiable, the termination of infants.
We are now living in a time when arguments for infanticide are gaining greater publicity and the practice of infanticide is becoming increasingly prevalent as it is being performed under the auspices of “partial birth abortions.” Consider the following. First, while arguments for infanticide have long been propagated by philosophers like Peter Singer, the position has been advocated with renewed intensity in recent times. Last year, two Melbourne ethicists, Dr Alberto Giubilini and Dr Francesca Minerva, wrote an article in the Journal for Medical Ethics titled “After-Birth Abortion: Why Should the Baby Live?” justifying the practice of infanticide. The duo argued that if the abortion of the unborn is allowable, so too should be the termination of the newborn. They contended that “when circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.” The article prompted such an outcry from the public that the editor of the journal dedicated a subsequent issue to discussion of the topic with a variety of perspectives featured. Second, the recent case of the Philadelphia abortion clinic where Dr. Kermit Gosnell operated has provided horrific accounts about the treatment of babies who survived abortion and even the pro-abortion media have found it hard to swallow the events that transpired in Philadelphia (see the Washington Post for example). On top of that, Planned Parenthood has given a zealous defense of the right of women to determine if babies who survive botched abortions should be allowed to live. It would seem that philosophers and abortion providers are not content with abortions, early or late in pregnancy, but want to push the boundaries to include infanticide.
Recently, I wrote a blog post entitled, “Infanticide: The Coming Battle,” where I noted the media attention and momentum behind the case for infanticide. Even now I remain convinced that we will see an active campaign within the next decade to justify and then legislate the practice of infanticide, initially for infants who are terminally ill, then for the infants who are disabled, and then finally at the whim of the mother and irrespective of an infant’s health.
Such a warning may sound either paranoid or prophetic depending on how the issue plays out in the public square over the next few years. Personally I think the paranoid approach will be vindicated. Paranoia itself can be quite appropriate under the right circumstances. For instance, if a Rastafarian accidentally walked into the middle of a Klu Klux Klan convention, paranoia for his own safety might be a prudent move! Indeed, those who are paranoid are the ones who often act before the catastrophe strikes.
Call it the sign of the times, a reading of current affairs, or just the vibe of the whole thing, but we sincerely believe that we are going to hear a lot more about infanticide, its legitimacy and its legislative merits, in the next few years. A form of infanticide is already practiced in the Netherlands and the issue continues to be a point of concern in several places in the developing world. It would thus be prudent for those concerned for the welfare of infants to be informed about debates and so be better equipped to engage in political activism should pro-infanticide bills face any legislature.
Our blog Remember Ashkelon (see About to learn meaning of the name), will draw attention to current academic discussions in applied clinical ethics, create a database of resources that critiques infanticide, and blog on issues related to infanticide as they arise in the media and in academia. It is our hope that the PI will gain public visibility and so influence discussion about infanticide in the media, in academic discourse, with a view to promoting the humane treatment of infants as human persons worthy of the same value, dignity, and rights due to any other person, rights guaranteed by law, and for faith based communities rights given by God.
Michael F. Bird (Ph.D)