Jonah Goldberg on Infanticide in the Journal of Medical Ethics


Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg, who writes for National Review, has commented on a barbaric paper that was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics that advocates infanticide. The authors, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, have argued that early infanticide is no different from abortion. Therefore, since abortion is, in their view, permissible, then infanticide should be too.

The authors have a point. A trip nine inches down the birth anal does not make someone a person. If the baby was not a person in utero, then a nine-inch trip does not possibly make it a person. Location is an exceedingly unworkable means for defining personhood. The same must be said for degree of dependence. The infant is now breathing on her own, but she is still dependent on her mother for feeding and attention. Otherwise, the baby will starve to death and fail to thrive. Therefore, defining personhood by means of degree of dependence is also unworkable. The infant is still completely dependent on others. In terms of size, there are also few differences between the in utero baby and the newly born baby. Also, how is an 18-pound baby more of a person than a 10-pound baby. Are babies who are bigger at birth more of a person than seven-pound babies? This question is ridiculous. So it comes down to development. However, the development that occurs outside the uterus in the first few months is slow and gradual. The baby acquires new abilities gradually and in a push-and-pull manner. The differences are small and difficult to perceive. Can a baby who can raise its head more of a person than one who cannot? Is a baby who can turn over more of a person than one who cannot? Obviously not. None of these criteria work. They are poor reasons to deny someone personhood.

The simple fact is that babies are human persons at different stages of their lives. Their human lives began at the end of fertilization and will end when they die. Intentionally killing them at any time is murder. If this were done to a 5-year old it would be murder. However, because the baby in the uterus cannot be seen, we call it “a mother’s choice.” It is simple murder, plain and simple, and now these authors want to extend this murder right to murder to those outside the mother’s womb. This is barbaric.

Goldberg writes that the authors eschewed the backlash they experienced because of the article, and they explained that this was an article to other bioethicists who have debated infanticide for some time. But this is exactly the problem To even entertain the murder of the most defenseless and innocent among us to nothing more than evil and it does not matter if it is being discussed by academics. It is still evil, and we should be ashamed that it is tolerated even in an academic setting.

Goldberg’s take on it is well worth reading.  Find it here.

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