This post is from one of the pastors at http://www.calvarychapel.com
It is no longer enough to kill our children in the womb. Now, we should be able to kill unwanted newborns without consequence. Or at least that’s what a recent article featured on the Journal of Medical Ethics unabashedly claims. (http://jme.bmj.com) This is how the authors summarize their position in a response to critics who were outraged at the original article:
“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.”
Yep, you read all that correctly. They are contending that killing newborns is ethical when desired for two reasons. 1) They believe fetuses (unborn human babies) and newborn babies are not actual persons. As you read the original article you discover that the reason they do not accept fetuses or newborns as persons (though human) is because they are unable to attribute any value to living, or not dying. In other words, if you tell a newborn you are going to kill them, they won’t get scared because they don’t know what you mean. They won’t feel a fear of loss. Therefore, as the authors argue, the killing of such a newborn is morally irrelevant. Again, take it from the article:
“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. 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. This means that many non-human animals and mentally retarded human individuals are persons, but that all the individuals who are not in the condition of attributing any value to their own existence are not persons.”
The reader also needs to understand that advocates of this position aren’t merely speaking of killing newborns that have what they consider abnormalities. I don’t believe it makes a moral difference whether a newborn suffers abnormalities or not when it comes to the issue, but their position still goes further. The article contends that even where abnormalities are not discovered in a newborn which would incline the parents toward killing it, that social, economic, and psychological pressures are good enough reason to justify the killing of otherwise healthy newborn human children. The article makes the point this way:
“If criteria such as the costs (social, psychological, economic) for the potential parents are good enough reasons for having an abortion even when the fetus is healthy, if the moral status of the newborn is the same as that of the fetus and if neither has any moral value by virtue of being a potential person, then the same reasons which justify abortion should also justify the killing of the potential person when it is at the stage of a newborn.”
I, for one, am so happy that God doesn’t ascribe moral value and standards the way the authors of this article and proponents of this position do. In many ways, the Bible explains that human beings are all like helpless, abnormal, and corrupted children. And yet, God does not reveal a desire to execute spiritual euthanasia or infanticide on us in the message of the Bible, due to the cost and inconvenience of allowing, promoting, and sustaining life for us. Instead, He brings us the gospel— a message of unparalleled good news! His gospel reveals to us how drastically different the true God is, in character and desire, to the so-called morals and ethics of the position described above. The gospel shows us the heart of God and the kind of life and values God deems ethical.
1. The gospel tells us that self-sacrifice for the promotion and provision of the lives of the helpless is the moral high road. As Isaiah describes in his portrayal of the gospel, “All we like sheep have gone astray and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Likewise, Jesus taught His people that the greatest expression of love is for one to “lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). That is exactly what Jesus did for us.
2. The Gospel tells us that it’s worth the economic, social, and emotional stress to provide life for others. “For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him there’s no beauty that we should admire Him. He is despised and rejected by men. A man of sorrows acquainted with grief…Surely He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:2-4). Jesus gave up the perfect economy and society of heaven to come to earth as a poor man, live a life of hardship, rejection, homelessness at times, and emotional sorrow. Why? That is what was required for Him to be able to bring us life! His was a rescue mission of self-sacrificing love, for the joy that would come from redeeming us.
3. The gospel tells us that God cares about healing the infirm and afflicted, even at the cost of His own life. “Surely He has borne our grief…and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5). The Hebrew for grief literally means diseases. And part of the sacrifice of the cross was about providing for us to be justly healed by God of our diseases. Sometimes God applies this in this life, but all who are His at the resurrection will experience complete healing because the gospel is true. And thus, Jesus’ heart to heal the afflicted led Him to heal many even during His earthly ministry.
4. The gospel tells us that no such crime will go unpunished. “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). The gospel is that Jesus is alive. He beat death for us so we can have life. And the resurrection tells us that Jesus really has the right to make claims of divinity, and authority, as He did during His ministry on earth. As the only God, He will return to judge the unrighteous so-called ethics, opinions, and practices of humanity. It’s comforting to know that the world will truly be filled with the righteousness and glory of God one day, in light of propositions such as those featured in the article noted.
As Christians, we should boil inside with sorrow and anger when we read of atrocities such as the promotion of what we might consider this position of neo-infanticide. As I write this, I can hear my three-year-old daughter singing about her newborn baby brother who is on his eleventh day out of the womb. I feel such intense sorrow and anger when I think of anyone killing him, or even suggesting he is less than a person! And yet, I know my sin held Jesus to the cross too. Therefore, while I hate the position of the aforementioned article, I must remain humble, and pray that its authors would repent of their sin and be forgiven through the grace of God as well. And I must pray for the helpless, and be a voice for them. All humans are made in the image of God, and that is where our dignity and sanctity come from, not our awareness of loss, or threat of pain (Genesis 1:26-27). Otherwise, why not empty the nursing homes of all people suffering from ailments that mentally reduce people to a child-like understanding of the world, such as is true in some cases of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease? God help us!
After reading the original article in full, please comment on your reaction to the ideas advocated by the authors of the article advocating the After-birth Abortion position.
The article can be found here: http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2012/04/12/medethics-2011-100411.full?sid=1c810b1e-8d5a-48d6-ae45-0faa7d5e18e5