Rorate Caeli

"After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?"

After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?

Alberto Giubilini (Department of Philosophy, University of Milan, Milan; Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), Francesca Minerva (Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Oxford University)

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.

(Journal of Medical Ethics, published online 23 Feb 2012, available at

[Tip: BioEdge, via Jeanne Smits


  1. They are taking the logic of abortion to its ultimate consequence, of course, but we do not believe the authors are trying to make a pro-life case by a reductio ad absurdum shock-value argument.

  2. Michael7:37 AM

    I'm a Ph.D. student in philosophy at a major American university. Reading things like this, I'm reminded of how degraded my discipline has become, and of how far it has fallen from the noble state it maintained for centuries. Philosophy used to be the principal helpmate of the supreme science, theology. Now it's a tool employed by misanthropic rhetoricians to convince the public that murder is good and life is bad. It used to aim at truth, and it took its orders from reason alone. Now it aims at death, and it takes its orders from the devil.

  3. Spartans were more civilized than us: they only killed disabled babies.

    This is the cherry on Satan's pie... Because this IS Satanic...

  4. Is this a Joke?

    Promoting the killing of born humans for some reason has a name in almost all laws codes: advocacy of genocide. THe doctors, the university, everybody that have to do with that bit of s. must be charged and judged.

    If not throw all the laws to the trash and Heil the new Reich of Moloch. Yes we are just saluting it too years ago.

  5. Ferraiuolo8:46 AM

    Peter Singer's ethics is far worse and is taught in my university course. He argues that infanticide is justifiable if the baby does not feel pain and does not have interests in living.

    Reminds me of the passage of scripture:

    For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of fourfooted beasts, and of creeping things. (Rom. 1:22-23)

  6. They argue that infanticide is justifiable, period. We all know Singer, now we see his thoughts being mainstreamed.

  7. P.K.T.P.11:05 AM

    This is nothing new, really. What is new is that the perspective is spreading to unexpected places.

    Let us take it a step further. It is now established as fact that, at the very earliest, the ability to reason (which requires self-recognition) does not begin until after the fourth month post natem. If we build in a margin of safety, we could say that it should be legal for the parents, the joint owners of newborns, to kill infants up to the end of the second month after birth, even when they are perfectly normal. Both parents would have to agree to this, of course, provided that both are living and care. Moreover, cruelty to animals is forbidden, so the means of termination must be 'humane' (a word much like, um, 'human'). Smothering with a pillow would be lauded, whereas the use of a flame-thrower could get you a $200 fine.

    There are two possible responses to this line of thinking. The first is the spiritual one: since man is a spiritual animal, it is the possession of a soul that confers rights on him. Since this can happen as early as conception, the moment of conception must at least be assumed to infuse a soul, even if, in certain cases, other later points might also do so (e.g. cell divison in the case of identical twins, or merging of zygotes).

    The other response is ethical alone and need not refer to religious principles (while being compatible with them). Since we don't really know what qualities make us persons in a correct ethical system, we must once again assume that the earliest possible moment (fertilization) is that moment. No ethicist has a right to impose on others his view that an ability to reason (or, for that matter, an ability to blog) confers first rights. At most, such philosophes might vote their views in elections, as may Catholics and Baptists. But since there are some fundamental human rights, a just state of any sort will protect everyone from the moment of conception regardless of the views of majorities.

    We must prefer to err on the side of caution simply because the life-right embraces all other rights, as none of the others may be enjoyed by a corpse.

    If you see a dark shape in the forest, it might be a hunter, so it would be wrong to open fire, praying that it is a deer. When it comes to the right on which all others depend as a prerequisite, caution is not only wise; it is mandatory.


  8. Following Roe v Wade in the early 1970s, those who argued for life used to warn that such horrors would naturally follow, and we were dismissed as extremist zealots.

  9. Andrew1:43 PM

    Does he apply that stupid reasoning to himself?

    I always find it odd that pro-abortion advocates and over population fanatics always have a very strong sense of right to life when it comes to themselves. I guess their evil philosophy applies only to babies and the poor. These people are scary.

  10. Ecclesia Militans2:40 PM

    It is a small step from killing babies in the sanctity of their mother's womb to killing new-born babies to killing men in the streets and priests and nuns in the sanctity of the churches - this is how the logic of the wicked 'progresses', of fascism, nazism and communism and all of their predecessors and successors.

    The very fact that it is possible to say and promote such a wicked thing in an official publication, without causing enormous indignation or official prosecution, is a sign that the world is more and more being prepared for full-scale eliminations of the unwanted (Catholics fall into that group).

    As for medicine, it has become the servant of death long ago, ever since it stopped recognizing that men are creatures with a soul. If men do not have souls, then they can be treated as animals, mutilated and killed at will (except that now animals have rights and have to be treated better than men). This is the logic that allows for these kinds of wicked things to be advocated.

    Because of this logic tens of thousands of people are legally murdered every year by removing their organs while their heart is still beating, to be used in transplants.
    And this perverted logic has made murder by abortion the highest cause of death in the world - about 50 million are killed by abortion every year.
    To better illustrate the magnitude, not including abortion, another 60 million souls leave this world every year, 35 million of them due to hunger, the second highest cause of death.

  11. Call it what it is: MURDER!

  12. Texana3:24 PM

    Remember that our President voted three times for letting infants who survive abortion die alone without any medical/humane aid. The administration of our American government advocates the Complete Lives System which will ration care so that infants and older Americans will die without medical care they need. Population control is part of the US foreign and domestic policies. Our representatives, through our government, are very much in favor of this kind of "thinking". Will we be held responsible by God?

  13. Well, welcome to New Canaan... Finally, they speak openly. I just wonder, for what reason the journal is still called that of medical ethics, when there is none.

  14. Scott4:47 PM

    This sent a chill up and down my spine.

  15. Kathleen5:08 PM

    This is absolutely a major milestone in that a respected journal is promoting this.

    Beyond that what strikes me is the very clear desire to call the murders abortion.

    It makes crystal clear that we must be firmer in not letting the servants of Satan dictate language.

    They want very badly to reduce the murder of infants in the womb, and now out of the womb, to the softer term abortion.

    They want to reduce that infant, baby, child to "fetus," "unborn," "preborn," etc.

    While there are some situations where there may be little or no choice on capitulating on language, we need to be far more conscience of this and far more diligent in taking the time to state the truth in clear language and to minimize if not eliminate concessions on language.

    The servants of Satan are exceedingly clear on the importance of dictating language and have done so largely unopposed.

  16. bdang7:05 PM

    "O shame where is thy blush?"

  17. And to think, the ball for all this was set in motion by Griswold v. Connecticut. Next time you see your friend buying a pack of Trojans, say, "you know those set in motion the practice of infanticide." That will get them thinking!

  18. Sarto8:23 PM

    Excellent. The lines are becoming ever clearer. JP II was right about one thing: this is a culture of death.

  19. John L8:34 PM

    Typical of ethicists. In looking for a philosophy job I find a myriad of jobs in ethics and applied ethics advertised; their purpose is to do just what these people are doing -justify and if possible extend the corruption of society, a corruption that gets certified by people employed as 'ethicists'.

  20. Ivan K11:01 PM

    It's just a return to the old pagan practice of 'exposing' infants. There are only two cultures: the culture of death and Christianity. With a loss of the latter, one inevitably reverts to the former.

  21. Prof. Basto2:07 AM

    Pagan morality.

    The elderly, especially those who are senile, the disabled, those who bear any physical or mental deficiency, all are under risk.

    If conception is not respected as a line in the sand, and if even birth is not respected, then the definition of who is a person and who is not, who has protection and who has not, becomes totally arbitrary.

    If a toddler is not a person, then why not say that a blind adult, for instance, is also less than a person?

    Finally, a point of curiosity: in the opinion of the authors of the article, when does one cease being a "newborn" for the purposes of extermination?

  22. Barbara4:18 AM

    The Enlightened Barbarians again! After that monstrousity of evil that was published by the Royal College of Obstetricians last year. As I said then these people having ditched all hypocrisy which implies something of a conscience, are sitting ducks as instruments for the Evil One. They have lost all grace. These are terrifying people.

    I never want to become accustomed to "news" like this...

    Please help us Lord Jesus and those poor, poor children!

  23. Gratias8:19 AM

    This article reminds me of a shock I had 20 years ago when attending a Medical Genetics conference. Prenatal diagnosis of inborn errors of metabolism were being discussed. The treatment was abortion, of course. I naïvely asked until which time of the pregnancy could abortion be performed. The Human Geneticists exchanged knowing glances at each other and with a smile replied: "Until Date of Birth minus one day". I then understood the Hippocratic Oath was worth nothing.

    We better stick to the Church.

  24. Ora et Labora9:06 AM

    This is purely Satanic.

    And to think we have more evil things like this one coming our way in the not so distant future.

    People this is beyond than alarming this is terrifying.

    This society we live in the 21th century has lost the value of human life or any life period.
    We kill our unborn babies, we kill our new born babies, we kill those who are sick, we kill the elderly, we kill the handicap, we kill animals for sport and we kill our planet with every kind of chemicals spills (Just clarifying I am not an enviromentalist or belong to the green cult)but the sad reality is that we are indeed living in the culture of death.
    There is no doubt about it.

    Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on your people and deliver us from the evil one.

    Our Lady Help of Christians pray for us!!!

  25. Loyolalaw989:53 PM

    "Doctor" Giublini just spoke at Oxford in January.

    Venue: St Cross Room, St Cross College

    Speaker: Dr Alberto Giubilini

    Title: What is the problem with euthanasia?

    Abstract: The question "why is euthanasia morally problematic?" is twofold, although the two issues which compose it are often mixed up. The first question is: what is euthanasia? The second one is: why are some practices such as terminal sedation or withdrawal of disproportionate treatments considered morally permissible by those who do not consider euthanasia morally permissible? I will argue that a) "euthanasia" is defined by the intention to bring about a patient's death, rather than by its being an active killing, and b) the distinction between what is intentional and what is not does not represent, by itself, the morally problematic reason against euthanasia. Finally, I will clarify this expression, "by itself", by indicating the circumstances in which the intention to bring about a patient's death can become morally problematic. Such clarification will allow me to put forward the thesis that there is no sound moral reason against euthanasia.

  26. Maureen2:03 PM

    Establishing Personhood
    A recent publication of modern philosophical thought by two ethicists from Melbourne, Australia, both with ties to Oxford University, Dr. Alberto Guibilini and Dr. Francesca Minerva's "Afterbirth Abortion: Why Should the Baby Live?" published February 23, 2012 in the Journal of Medical Ethics, takes Descartes founding principle of modern philosophical thought: "I think, therefore I am," to its logical conclusion. The authors rationally demonstrate their premise: since it is thinking that defines a human being's existence, a human being that does not think is not a "person" and in that lack, does not exist.
    Therefore, they argue, if the philosophical term "personhood" is not conferred to a fetus, why would it be conferred to an infant after it is born?
    Of course, based on their premise, they are right. Intellectually and biologically an infant and a fetus are basically the same. So the authors use the same philosophical argument that an infant is as worthless as a fetus and the value of an infant's life should be determined by the same parameters as that of the fetus' life: whether it is wanted or not.
    Guibilini and Minerva's paper opens a Pandora's Box that segues Western society to freely confer or remove "personhood" and ergo the legal protections from any human being whose thinking may be compromised: dementia patients, the mentally ill, stroke victims, PTSD, brain injuries, autistic persons and those under 25 years of age whose pre-frontal cortex is not yet mature.
    Realizing that the argument further injects a "value" judgement that becomes the very definition of human life, should cause all thoughtful persons to remember that scientific theories underpinned laws leading to horrors in human history: the Laws of Human Slavery and Chattel; Hitler's Operation T-4; the Lebensborn Experiment; the Nuremberg Laws; based on the American Jim Crow Laws; and those based on the Statutes of Kilkenny.
    The obvious problem with Guibilini and Minerva's argument is that the premise is flawed. To accept as a philosophical truth Descartes "I think, therefore I am," defies logic. To fix the failed logic in the premise and force it to work, philosophers assigned value to function (think) and separated potential function from actual function. What wasn't done was to focus on the agent that compels the verb "think" to action--"I". Man is not merely function, but force as well. There is no effect without a cause. "It is not thought that determines existence, but existence, 'esse,' that determines thought" -- St. Thomas Aquinas.
    Thinking is merely one process in the state of being. The part does not equal the whole. Rather, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. No one can have any function without first existing. If a philosophical principle can be doubted prima facie intellectually, linguistically and logically, then it is not a universal truth applicable to reality. If it were, then replacing think with any other intransitive verb should not make the sentence less true, but it does: I throw, therefore I am; I eat, therefore I am; I lie, therefore I am--all are functions of a human's nature, not the definition of it.
    Modern philosophy failed to question the validity of its premise. Our duty is to ask why ? If we don't, as history attests, once a society freely agrees to the definition of a dehumanizing "value" for one segment of the population for the "greater good," slowly but surely the definition of those that qualify expands.


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