National Security & Defense

The Corner

“Kill Down Babies!” ISIS AND in the West

The barbarians of ISIS have decreed that Down babies be killed. From The Mirror story:

Vile ISIS terror thugs have issued a fatwa to kill babies and children with Down’s Syndrome, it has been reported.

Iraqi activist group Mosul Eye says the ISIS Shar’ia Board issued a savage “oral fatwa (an Islamic term for a religious decree)” to its members authorising them to “kill newborn babies with Down’s Syndrome and congenital deformities and disabled children”.

If true – and reports from the war-torn region are difficult to verify – it means ISIS has taken a leaf from the Nazis, who murdered disabled children it perceived to be a “burden on the state”.

Awful. But we in the West also think killing Down babies is acceptable–although not required as would seem to be the case in the fatwa. 

Ninety percent of Down babies don’t survive gestation, dying at the hands of abortionists to the general support of the ruling elite, medical intelligentsia, and society.

But it isn’t just abortion. Down babies have been starved to death in this country, the UK, and elsewhere by being denied routine abdominal surgery that would be required to be performed on non developmentally disabled babies born with bowel obstructions.

Some of our leading philosophers have advocated for the infanticide of Down babies if their parents don’t want them. The New York Times’ favorite philosopher, Peter Singer, wrote in Rethinking Life and Death (pp. 213-214):

To have a child with Down syndrome is to have a very different experience from having a normal child …

(W)e may not want a child to start on life’s uncertain voyage if the prospects are clouded. When this can be known at a very early stage of the voyage we may be able to make a fresh start …. Instead of going forward and putting all our efforts into making the best of the situation, we can still say no, and start again from the beginning

“Start again,” is Singerese for “kill.”

He’s not alone. In the Journal of Medical Ethics, two bioethicists wrote that a Down baby can be killed to benefit his or her family in an article supporting “after-birth abortion.” From the piece:

It might be maintained that ‘even allowing for the more optimistic assessments of the potential of Down’s syndrome children, this potential cannot be said to be equal to that of a normal child’. But, in fact, people with Down’s syndrome, as well as people affected by many other severe disabilities, are often reported to be happy.

Nonetheless, to bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.

On these grounds, the fact that a fetus has the potential to become a person who will have an (at least) acceptable life is no reason for prohibiting abortion. Therefore, we argue that, when circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.

Utilitarian thinking of the West is not close to the moral equivalent of the barbarism of ISIS, one is obliged to say. But that isn’t much comfort when it comes to this particular issue.

Given that both the monsters of ISIS and the cool utilitarians who inhabit bioethics reject human exceptionalism, it isn’t surprising that there are, occasionally, a few points of deadly convergence.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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