Pro-choicers usually respond with flat denial, and sometimes disgust. Killing newborns, after all, cannot be justified by bodily integrity. This is a crucial difference between abortion and infanticide. Is it the only difference?
Some people seem to think so. On February 23, 2012, ethicists Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva published a paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics entitled, “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” The abstract:
“Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”
The paper has been met with outrage. The authors have received death threats. People are reacting to the rationalization of homicide as you’d expect society to react. Amongst the vehement rejection, though, some are giving this suggestion a hard look. William Saletan of Slate.com writes,
“It isn’t pro-lifers who should worry about the Giubilini-Minerva proposal. It’s pro-choicers. The case for ‘after-birth abortion’ draws a logical path from common pro-choice assumptions to infanticide. It challenges us, implicitly and explicitly, to explain why, if abortion is permissible, infanticide isn’t.”
I’m glad Saletan, like most pro-choicers I know, thinks infanticide is something worth worrying about. It’s good for society to be on the same page when it comes to killing babies. The options seem to be:
1) See the parallel between abortion and infanticide and deplore both practices.
2) See no parallel between abortion and infanticide, and defend abortion while condemning infanticide.
3) See the parallel between abortion and infanticide and accept both practices.
I believe the great majority of society sticks with Options 1 and 2. Still, I feel a weary horror every time someone chooses Option 3.