Christians have rejected the claim by two medical ethicists that killing newborn babies is no different to abortion.
In an article published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva argue that newborn babies do not have a “moral right to life” because they are not “actual persons” but rather “potential persons”.
“The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”
They continued: “Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life’.
“We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.”
The article, entitled “After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?”, argues on these grounds that ‘after-birth abortion’ should be “permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled”.
Nick Pollard, co-founder of The Damaris Trust, criticised the claim.
“Some of us have seen this coming for a long while," he said.
"It stems from the way that many secular humanists draw a fundamental distinction between a ‘human being’ and a ‘human person’ – they argue that some human beings are not proper people and therefore it is not morally wrong to kill them.”
Dr Trevor Stammers, director of medical ethics at St Mary’s University College, said: “The term ‘after-birth abortion’ is just verbal manipulation. That is not philosophy. I might refer to abortion henceforth as antenatal infanticide.”
Dr Peter May, a Christian ethicist and retired GP, said that childbirth did not mark a change in the intrinsic worth of a child.
“The same child now exists in a new environment,” he said.
“Secular humanists may want to embrace infanticide. Jesus however taught that the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
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