Abortion, Infanticide and Euthanasia Oh My!
It was recently reported that the Netherlands will soon open the country’s first center for child self-murder euthanasia for children between the ages of 1-12. The country, which already permits the involuntary killing of infants up to the age of 1 and permits medically assisted suicide for children over the age of 12, is revisiting prohibitions of child-killing between the ages of 1-12. The NL Times, a Dutch newspaper, shares this startling story:
Within the next year a center for euthanasia in children will open in the Netherlands, professor of pediatrics Eduard Verhagen predicted to Dutch newspaper AD, who calls him the authority in the field of child euthanasia.
Under current Dutch legislation, euthanasia can be applied for infants up to a year old and kids over the age of 12, if they suffer unbearably. Kids between the ages of 1 and 12 years are considered incapable of making such an important decision for themselves and are not eligible for euthanasia.
But according to Verhagen, doctors are already investigating the practice of life-end decisions for kids between the ages of 1 and 12 years. “We think that some children under the age of 12 are well able to make such important decisions”, he said.
He adds that the Netherlands is keeping a close eye on Belgium for developments.
Well, here’s what’s happening in Belgium.
In 2014, Belgium extended the legal right to euthanasia—a right that had been available to persons over the age of 18 since 2002—to children under 18 who are “in the final stages of a terminal illness,…understand the difference between life and death rationally…and…have asked to end his or her life on repeated occasions. It also requires parental consent and finally the approval of two doctors, including a psychiatrist.” Last week, the first minor child in Belgium was euthanized by a doctor.
Conservatives have long argued that society’s arrogation of the right to kill the unborn or help kill adults with terminal illnesses is both profoundly wrong and will ineluctably lead to the involuntary euthanizing of those deemed unworthy.
“Progressives” counter that such an argument is a fallacious slippery slope argument. Slippery slope arguments are not all fallacious. What makes them fallacious is the absence of warrant or justification for the claim that dire ends are impending if an action is permitted or permitted to continue.
Evidence for the soundness of the conservative slippery slope argument abounds in many economically developed and ethically impoverished countries.
Princeton University unethical “ethicist” Peter Singer argues that parents should have a one-month post-natal window of opportunity during which to determine the health of their newborns and have them euthanized if imperfect. But why just one-month? Why not two or six months?
Singer believes that since the “moral status” of human infants is no different from the moral status of “non-human animals who are sentient but not rational or self-conscious,” the same “principles that govern the wrongness of killing non-human animals” must apply to human infants as well.
The infamous Singer himself acknowledges in his book Practical Ethics that we have already started down the unctuous slope:
I do not deny that if one accepts abortion on the grounds provided in Chapter 6, the case for killing other human beings, in certain circumstances, is strong. As I shall try to show in this chapter, however, this is not something to be regarded with horror….[O]nce we abandon those doctrines about the sanctity of human life that…collapse as soon as they are questioned, it is the refusal to accept killing that, in some cases, is horrific.
Singer evidently believes he can stop the downhill careening by asserting that the presence of self-awareness is the existential condition that determines whether some humans are ethically justified in dispatching of others.
Singer also justifies “non-voluntary euthanasia” of infants by the utilitarian “replaceability argument,” using a baby born with hemophilia for his illustration:
When the death of a disabled infant will lead to the birth of another infant with better prospects of a happy life, the total amount of happiness will be greater if the disabled infant is killed. The loss of happy life for the first infant is outweighed by the gain of a happier life for the second. Therefore, if killing the haemophiliac infant has no adverse effect on others, it would, according to the total view, be right to kill him.
He follows in the oily footsteps of philosopher Michael Tooley who wrote this in 1972 in an article titled “Abortion and Infanticide”:
An organism possesses a serious right to life only if it possesses the concept of a self as a continuing subject of experiences and other mental states, and believes that it is itself such a continuing entity….If this view of the matter is roughly correct, there are two worries one is left with at the level of practical moral decisions, one of which may turn out to be deeply disturbing. The lesser worry is where the line is to be drawn in the case of infanticide….The practical moral problem can thus be satisfactorily handled by choosing some period of time, such as a week after birth, as the interval during which infanticide will be permitted. This interval could then be modified once psychologists have established the point at which a human organism comes to believe that it is a continuing subject of experiences and other mental states.
Through some tortured reasoning about the ethics of torturing kittens, Tooley concludes that it is not membership in the species “homo sapiens” that determines the right to life but rather self-conceptualization as a “continuing subject of experiences and other mental states” and a belief that one is “such a continuing entity” that confers on humans a right to live. Therefore, neither newborns nor humans in the womb—or as Tooley calls them, “parasites”—enjoy that right.
More recently in 2011, two philosophers at the University of Melbourne, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, published a paper in which they advocated for “after-birth abortion.” In the face of withering criticism, they tried to walk back their claim by whimpering, “We started from the definition of person introduced by Michael Tooley in 1975 and we tried to draw the logical conclusions deriving from this premise. It was meant to be a pure exercise of logic: if X, then Y….[W]e never meant to suggest that after-birth abortion should become legal.”
Oh really? Well, here’s what they actually said in their original paper titled “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” which was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics:
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.
Once humans arrogate the right to determine the value of the lives of others or, as with abortion, when humans predict the future value of the lives of others or the costs to others of the lives of others, we have launched ourselves down a slippery slope that will end in involuntary euthanasia (also known as murder) of those who are deemed unworthy. Once we say that a person’s unwantedness or presumed unwantedness or physical imperfections robs her of her right to exist and justifies her murder, how is it possible to prevent the murders of others whom the powerful deem unworthy? Once we rid ourselves of those pesky notions about the “sanctity of life,” no one is long safe.
Unfortunately, many “progressives,” who are increasingly running the anti-human horror show developing in developed nations can’t recognize a slippery slope when they’re hurtling down one in a greased-up luge.
First published at Illinois Family Institute
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