I admit, it's personal. I could not casually read about how Down Syndrome children while happy and thus could be argued to not be suffering because of their condition, were a prime example of when post birth abortion ought to be allowed.
From the article: "...to bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care. On these grounds, the fact that a fetus has the potential to become a person who will have an (at least) acceptable life is no reason for prohibiting abortion. 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."
So we're not leaving them out nailed to a tree for the wolves to eat. It's still a "We are Sparta!" moment. The family was threatened the instant this thought was given voice.
I don't fault these people for their "logical" continuation of the thought. If it is permissible to kill an infant in utero because of a disability or for any reason whatsoever and personhood is only conveyed by the will of the individual choosing to be inconvenienced and the alternative sanctioned by the state, then geography ought not make a difference. After all, it's about choice. The state can set a "reasonable" window for this choice after the fact. This is the argument that Peter Singer, ethicist at Princeton has made as well.
I fault them for deciding that humanity is conveyed with consciousness and intellect. My apologies if you've just eaten. This is what passes for philosophical thoughtfulness in the field of medical ethics.
"This consideration entails a much stronger idea than the one according to which severely handicapped children should be euthanized. If the death of a newborn is not wrongful to her on the grounds that she cannot have formed any aim that she is prevented from accomplishing, then it should also be permissible to practise an after-birth abortion on a healthy newborn too, given that she has not formed any aim yet."
So sign them up for Harvard at birth so they have aims. Forget Tiger Moms, much too tame, you need Raptors. Anything less than an Olympic gold medalist? Not all A's? Eagle Scout? Heavens, why does the state or for that matter you, suffer such fools? It was hard not to go into a purely acid rant at this point but I want to contain my ire...a bit. It's not easy.
The value of a person is not the same as the value to the state, or shouldn't be. The value of a person is not economic. Just as love is not purely chemical, societal problems are not purely individual, education is not merely books and all of life cannot be explained through science, humanity defined in any of these more limiting terms results in an eventual shrinking of who is considered allowable.
My brain went to the next question. Hey doc? What's the cutoff? Is there one? Or is all of this nice clinical thinking about killing people who don't meet your definition of personhood a relative value? Is Personhood owned or is the status one that is permanently in flux, such that if one falls into a coma, becomes depressed, diseased, disabled, addicted or broke, that personhood is revoked since aims can no longer be formed or met?
Answer as I continued reading: "First, we do not put forward any claim about the moment at which after-birth abortion would no longer be permissible, and we do not think that in fact more than a few days would be necessary for doctors to detect any abnormality in the child. In cases where the after-birth abortion were requested for non-medical reasons, we do not suggest any threshold..." (Emphasis mine). Points to Peter Singer for at least being man enough to say the age of two, not that it's much comfort.
Consistency. There was perfect consistency in their philosophical framework. It is a tyranny of logic, born of having abandoned the premise that human life intrinsically has value.
Naturally, there was outrage and the medical journal has posted an article with some of the more vitriolic and inept responses to illustrate that any criticism of the proposal in the article shows a desire to quell debate, reject science and threatens free speech. So I'm here saying, you wrote what you wanted. You published it. Your speech was not squashed.
I will now tell you what I think using my gift of free speech:
What you wrote is a prescription for a Hobbesian world. What you wrote is a recipe for death and abuse and cruelty. What you suggest is morally wrong and it is barbaric even if you use anesthesia. What you propose as compassion, is evil.
Further, you propose is that we call this evil compassion. Not only do you want us to accept this practice as reasonable, you want us to call it a good. Your magazine considers the possibility of people objecting more of a threat to society than the proposed philosophical musings about the morality of infanticide. If we've learned anything from history, it is this: evil always demands that we tolerate more evil. Evil eventually demands that we call it good and deny that it ever was evil. And evil always advances if good does not speak up and speak out and resist.
Who in society benefits from teaching whole generations that everyone else is disposable and that all human worth is economic or aim oriented? I don't think truth or beauty or goodness is enhanced by promoting the idea that it is socially and even psychologically acceptable to destroy the innocent (or the guilty for that matter). A world peopled with differing abilities reveals a greater tolerance, imagination, compassion and beauty than a world peopled with only physical/mental perfect people who have no capacity to endure suffering real or imagined.
Put another way, how we respond to the sick, the disadvantaged, the handicapped, the innocent, the young and the old, how we respond to anyone who is other than us reveals more about our real society and how humane or civilized we are, than how few problems one can spot easily via a physical and mental profile. Following or supporting the sort of thinking promoted and presented in this British Medical Journal and defended by its editor, will make us less than humane and less than human.
God have mercy on us for divorcing reason and science from the heart and soul and thinking it truth.
For the sake of His sorrowful passion...