Ethicists Say Killing Babies Should Be Legal, Draw Controversy

Two Oxford bioethicists are gaining a fair share of criticism – including death threats – for saying that there is nothing morally wrong with infanticide. Killing babies. Or, as they like to dress it up, “after-birth abortion”. In their opinion, parents should be allowed to kill their newborn babies for any reason, saying that it’s no different from abortion.

Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva say in their study, titled After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? that babies, like fetuses, are only “potential persons” with no “moral right to life.” They define a person as one who is “capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value.” They conclude that parents should be able to kill infants because “the interests of actual people override the interest of merely potential people.”

As you might expect, Giubilini and Minerva have received numerous death threats for their beliefs. Journal editor Julian Savulescu defended his decision to publish the article in a post yesterday, saying: “The goal of the Journal … is not to present the Truth or promote some one moral view,” he writes.

Savulescu knows Giubilini and Minerva personally through Oxford, and argues that the two are being targeted in a witch hunt.

The entire study is posted here. Savulescu’s post defending the study is here. You can read both and decide for yourself, but I am curious to know there the line is drawn (i.e.: moved) between a person and a potential person. Leaving abortion aside, this reads a bit cold to me.

What do you think of the ethicists’ findings?