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The Right to Life: Racing Down the Slippery Slope

If an unborn child's right to life can be denied, what's to stop nullifying the life rights of the elderly, the disabled or even the very young?
Jul 16, 2012
The Right to Life: Racing Down the Slippery Slope

The specter of the “slippery slope” is widely considered to be a logical cop-out – an intellectually lazy response employed by the rigid and fearful among us (usually conservatives and the religious, of course). Like all enduring metaphors, however, the concept embodied by the slippery slope is quite often proved true. “Give ‘em an inch, they’ll take a mile” is a compelling slogan for good reason. Once an initial barrier is broken, it is difficult to turn back.

Nowhere is the danger of the slippery slope more evident than in the area of abortion. If an unborn child’s right to life can be denied based on criteria like age, size, location, cognitive capacity or simply the wishes of the mother, then what’s to stop similar criteria from nullifying the life rights of the elderly, the disabled, or even the very young?

The fruits of this disturbing trend are already playing out in countries like the U.K. and Canada, where panels of bureaucrats hold the power of life and death over the terminally ill and the aged. Advisers to our very own President Obama have advocated for a “comparative effectiveness” principle in medicine, in which the most resources are directed to those deemed to be the “best investment” from the perspective of potential benefit to society. Under the comparative effectiveness protocols, the very old, the very young, and the disabled aren’t deemed good investments.

It is hardly surprising, then, that some in the field of bioethics – in the abhorrent tradition of Peter Singer – have begun to embrace infanticide as a perfectly reasonable solution to the hardship and inconvenience sometimes imposed by the birth of a child. From a recent post on Touchstone Magazine’s “Mere Comments” blog:

As a current example of nothing new under the sun, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva recently wrote an article published on February 23, 2012, in the Journal of Medical Ethics, a peer-reviewed journal for health care professionals and researchers in medical ethics.

[T]he authors say that parents should have the right to kill their newborn infants because infants are not people. ... The authors prefer the term "after-birth abortion" as opposed to ‘infanticide’ because the term after-birth abortion emphasizes "that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable to that of a fetus ... rather than to that of a child."

So, what do our erstwhile ethicists suggest are acceptable circumstances under which the newborn may be killed? This might include a situation where the well-being of the family is at risk, even if the newborn had the potential for an "acceptable" life. ... Thus, a newborn whose family (or society) can be socially, economically or psychologically burdened or damaged by the newborn should have the ability to seek out a legal after-birth abortion.

There are no words to describe the level of depravity, the chilling inhumanity, of such logic. One has to wonder if these so-called bioethical “experts” are themselves parents, and if so, how they justify their abhorrent philosophy to their children. “Be grateful you weren’t a social, economic, or psychological burden to your mother and me, Junior, or it might have been an after-birth abortion for you.”

That this proposition is even embraced as a legitimate contribution to the field of bioethics is indicative of what happens when a society defines itself by it’s unwillingness to recognize and adhere to fixed, universal limits. Reject traditional morality, cast off the bounds of religion, place the individual at the center of the moral universe and you have the perfect recipe for a culture in which virtually everything is permissible.

“Progressives” believe that mankind is on a steady and inevitable march towards utopia. Only by eliminating our dependence on the “God of the gaps” and learning to place faith in ourselves can we achieve true actualization as a species. This philosophy has yielded a society in which proponents of infanticide are no longer castigated as disordered sociopaths but accepted as legitimate participants in the public conversation.

Progress, my eye! Heaven help us.

Ken Connor is an attorney and co-author of Sinful Silence: When Christians Neglect Their Civic Duty. He is also chairman of the Center for a Just Society.

Publication date: March 8, 2012


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