Francesca Minerva and Alberto Giubilini‘s article “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” published in the Journal of Law, Ethics and Medicine is creating waves the world over. In a few hours, on the morning of Thursday 1 March, around 10:00am New Zealand time, Dr Minerva will be interviewed on this article on Radio Rhema’s Pat Brittenden Mornings. Shortly after Dr Matthew Flannagan, of this blog, arguably New Zealand’s most eminent Abortion Ethicist, will be interviewed in response.
The Abstract of “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” is as follows:
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.
Matt’s articles on abortion rebutting most of the arguments used in “After-birth abortion” (they are very similar to arguments offered by Michael Tooley and Peter Singer) can be found by using the tags below – particularly see his:
Boonin and Sentience Criteria: A Critique Part I
Boonin and Sentience Criteria: A Critique Part II
(published in Ethics and Medicine: An International Journal of Bioethics vol 25, issue 2, 2009, 95-106)
Sentience Part 1
Sentience Part 2
Dr Francesca Minerva’s interview on her and Alberto Giubilini’s article “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” is now available to download it as an MP3.
Dr Matthew Flannagan’s interview on Francesca Minerva and Alberto Giubilini’s article “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” is now available to download it as an MP3.
In response to Dr Minerva’s comments in her interview where she states that parents of disabled children do not read academic articles and later, academics who are capable of understanding the debate would not be offended by the position she was arguing for:
I am an academic, I am married to Matt who is also an academic.
Matt and I are the parents of four children, two of whom have disabilities, one whose diagnosis is Severe Autistic Spectrum Disorder. The severity of this diagnosis cannot be overstated. Our son cannot go to school, cannot be cared for by most people; and when his condition is not managed, regularly does actions that endanger himself and others that are the source of considerable stress – he gets into rages where he cannot value or appreciate the risks he is taking to his own life. We shape our lives around managing his care. It is hard. His condition causes significant impact to our financial, social and professional endeavours as well as our stress levels; just on Saturday he caused four Police Patrol cars and their respective officers to leave active duty to deal with him.
So we present a conundrum to Dr Minerva’s claims. We are academics, we are both capable of following and understanding the argument and contributing to it in a non-emotive way – in fact, both of us have contributed to this particular debate in this way. Further, we often read academic articles – most recently we have each read hers; we author them too. Contemporaneously, we are also parents of disabled children, one fairly seriously disabled child. So are we offended by her argument? Yes. The suggestion that our son, because he is a burden, could understandably and justifiably be killed provided he is of a biological state where he does not value or appreciate his life – or that had we known what we were in for we could just had killed him at birth, is offensive. An implication of this argument is that he is not as valuable as other human beings and I reject that.
As Matt pointed out in his interview, when your reasoning brings you to a conclusion of that magnitude you need to check your premises, not bite the bullet and shoot the baby.
Oh and by the way, abortion means termination of pregnancy it cannot, by definition, apply post-pregnancy. It is up there with talking about post-death homicide.
The New Zealand Herald has run an article on the subject featuring Matt (only they wrongly imply he is on faculty at Auckland University): “Killing newborns: Paper stirs debate, death threats”