“The pro-choice position for infanticide appears to be here to stay,” writes Charles Camosy. (Vadim Ghirda – AP)
A recent article in the prestigious Journal of Medical Ethics titled “After-Birth Abortion: Why Should the Baby Live?” caused quite a stir. Two ethicists associated with the University of Oxford essentially claimed that many of the arguments currently used to justify abortion also justify infanticide—even going so far as to say that “economical, social or psychological circumstances” create burdens which could count as acceptable reasons to kill a newborn child.
Because this deliberatively provocative article was accessible free online (unlike most academic articles), the blogosphere erupted in outrage—and even some more traditional media treated it as a news story. Julian Savulescu, editor of the journal, noted that both he and the authors received death threats. The reaction to the article was so strong that even normally measured voices like Robert George (himself the object of hate speech and death threats for his pro-life views) referred to the argument as “madness.”
I believe we should put infanticide in both its ancient and relatively recent historical context. The Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all defended the sanctity of life against ancient cultures which accepted infanticide as a matter of course. Indeed, the Catholic Church has been making these kinds of logical connections between abortion and infanticide for the better part of 2000 years. The Didache, one of the earliest Christian manuals for converts, specifically mentions them together: “You shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born.” Even in the modern era when infanticide is not a clear public policy issue, we still find the church making this connection. The Second Vatican Council claimed, for instance, that “from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care” and in the next breath that “abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes.” Interestingly, the authors of “After-Birth Abortion” share a similar understanding to that of the Catholic Church with regard to the issues and logical reasoning in play. Both agree that certain arguments which permit abortion also permit infanticide.
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- Infanticide advocate tells Catholics to stop abusing their religious freedom (stannecenter.wordpress.com)
- Are There Non-Religious Reasons to Oppose Abortion? (patheos.com)
- Photo of Aborted Full-Term Fetus Exposes ‘Infanticide’ in China, Critics Say By Stoyan Zaimov (trinityspeaks.wordpress.com)
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- FEMALE INFANTICIDE AND CHILD MARRIAGE: India, Rajasthan (qqaabucs.typepad.com)