Beyond Chilling

by Carol Iannone

According to a news article, two professors write in the Journal of Medical Ethics that women should have the right to “after-birth abortion” — that is, to have their babies killed if they are born deformed, or if the mothers feel they don’t have the time, money, or energy to care for them. Francesca Minerva, a philosopher and medical ethicist at the University of Melbourne and a research associate at Oxford University, and co-author Alberto Giubilini, a bioethicist from the University of Milan, argue that a newborns are not persons, and so killing them in the days after birth should be acceptable.    

I seem to remember Peter Singer saying something similar a few years ago, but not as explicitly or definitively as this. Something quite awful is happening, in that many received ideas about the most basic aspects of human existence are in the process of being roundly overturned. We shouldn’t take lightly anything that is proposed, no matter how far-fetched it may seem, because in the moral free fall of contemporary life, whatever is proposed may at some time begin to be executed. For example, mandating free contraception might have seemed outlandish some time ago, but now a legal defense is forming in which such a mandate can be seen to equalize the economic and social capacities of women to those of men. ”Equal sexual liberty” may overturn even freedom of religion, if it can be argued that guaranteeing such liberty is a compelling state interest. Even if freedom of religion wins out in this case, the concept of pregnancy and childbearing as encumbrances to the economic and social life of women, and therefore justifying government intervention to overcome, has more or less already been established, if you consider the implications of certain Supreme Court decisions of recent decades. This development is detailed by Gerald V. Bradley, professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, in an article in National Review, not available online; he points out that “the Supreme Court is an unsure ally against the HHS [the contraception] mandate.”