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‘Bioethicists’ obsessed with killing babies—why?

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Published: 9 October 2018 (GMT+10)
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Shockingly, many ‘bioethicists’ advocate the killing of unwanted babies or babies with birth defects after they are born. A recent news report highlighted the most absurd justification for infanticide yet. According to Finnish bioethicist Joona Räsänen, “[T]here might be an argument that gives, for example, the genetic parents a right to kill (or leave to die) their newborn infant even if the infant has a right to life. For example, it might be argued that people have a right to their genetic privacy and having the newborn infant in the world that carries the genetic material of the genetic parents violates their right to genetic privacy. Put another way: the fetus does not have a right to the genetic material of her parents.”1

How would you answer this? Happily, there are simple and valid arguments against this ridiculous point of view. Clearly, all parents have a responsibility to the new individual they’ve had a hand in bringing into the world, but there are many more things one could say. For instance, the child’s DNA is not the parents’ genetic material any longer; it belongs to the baby. Also, the child’s genetic material is a unique combination of the father’s and mother’s genetic material, so it cannot belong to either of the parents.

However, there are also times that call for strong wording. This is one of them. It would not be out of place to point at them and say, “Those people are evil. They apparently haven’t ever seen a baby they didn’t want to kill, whether in the womb or newborn. We should not want these people telling us what constitutes ethical behavior, because apparently being trained in bioethics involves removing humanity and compassion from a person, leaving nothing but a lifeless shell that then goes on to spout rhetoric that Joseph Mengele would be proud of.”

And it’s not like one weird bioethicist made a shocking statement after taking the wrong meds —this is a worrying pattern of argumentation. Another well-known ‘bioethicist’, Peter Singer, has argued for the infanticide of unwanted or disabled newborns. And a few years ago yet another ‘bioethicist’ argued for “after birth abortion”. When three experts in the field argue the same point a clear pattern emerges.

If you’re shocked by the thought of killing newborn children, that’s thanks to Christianity. In the Roman Empire, it was common to expose unwanted children, and abortifacient potions were common. Early Christianity spoke out against both abortion and infanticide, and Christians lived out their beliefs very practically, rescuing exposed infants even when it was illegal. Thus, Christianity was pro-life from the very beginning. When comparing world religions, especially historically, the idea that even the youngest, most vulnerable humans were valuable because they were created in God’s image was almost unique to Christianity.

By way of contrast, one of the most common atheistic ‘ethical’ systems is utilitarianism. Both Richard Dawkins and Singer are utilitarians. Utilitarianism is basically the idea that a ‘moral’ action is that which increases happiness and/or minimizes suffering for the greatest amount of people. That sounds good at first glance, until you read the twisted conclusions that directly follow. Dawkins has claimed that it would be more moral to abort a baby with Down Syndrome and try again. Singer has hypothesized that an adult pig would have more moral value than a newborn human.2 Philosophical ideas are not without implications, and some of the implications from the philosophizing of various bioethicists are horrible.

Is it surprising that, as the West discards more and more of its Christian foundation, we are also losing some of the most fundamental assumptions that came with that foundation? But Christians can fight back against the madness. First, we must learn to articulate clearly and persuasively why every human life has value, from conception to natural death. Second, we should act out that belief in practical ways—whether that means involvement in the pro-life movement, fostering or adopting so-called ‘unwanted’ children, or any of the many other possible ways. Finally, we should all be active in sharing the Gospel, because no amount of human effort will turn the tide. Changing hearts and minds is something only God can accomplish.

References and notes

  1. Fiano-Chesse, C., Outrageous: Bioethicist says parents may have a ‘right’ to kill born children, liveaction.org, 4 September 2018. Return to text.
  2. Hentoff, N, A professor who argues for infanticide, washingtonpost.com, 11 September 1999. Return to text.

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