Should Infanticide be Legal?

Peter Singer, probably the most well-known bioethicists, who believes he is too humane to eat a hamburger because animals should have rights,  has never had any qualms about infanticide.

He believes an unborn child only acquires “moral significance” at around 20 weeks gestation when they are able to feel pain.  However, Singer believes that even though a baby can feel pain, it still doesn’t have the self-awareness of a chimpanzee or even a dog and man should assign greater moral significance to the chimpanzee and dog than to an unborn child.

“Some opponents of abortion respond that the fetus, unlike the dog or chimpanzee, is made in the image of God, or has an immortal soul.  They thereby acknowledge religion is the driving force behind their opposition.  But there is no evidence for these religious claims and in a society in which we keep the state and religion separate, we should not use them as a basis for the criminal law, which applies to people with different religious beliefs, or to those with none at all.”

All laws stem from someone’s perception of morality so why should Singer or those like him be able to impose their perception of morality, or lack thereof, on the rest of society?   The truth is that most of the atrocities of the 20th century were committed under atheistic regimes so it would seem reasonable that religious morality was a good thing for society at large.

Singer  also admits that  while an unborn child is fully human, the humanity of the unborn does not obligate society to preserve that life.  In his book “Rethinking Life and Death”,  Singer takes the view that “new-born infants, especially if unwanted, are not yet full members of the moral community” and proposes a 28 day period after birth in which the child might be killed before being granted full human rights.

In 2007 Singer wrote an article reversing his position on the acceptance of infanticide in most cases but made it clear that it wasn’t because a child acquired a moral significance once it was born but because criminal law needed clear dividing lines.  But in another article he argued that due to the high rate of disability in premature infants, doctors should not treat them if they were born prior to 26 weeks gestation – “killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person.  Very often, it is not wrong at all.”  Singer’s denial of an unborn child’s personhood is central to his justification for abortion.

Singer’s views stem from a philosophy known as “utilitarianism” in which the stated goal is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain for the greatest number of people as possible.  Utilitarian ethics were popularized by Joseph Fletcher, an apostate Episcopalian minister who became an atheist.  Fletcher is best known for creating “situation ethics” and popularized the distinction between “human being” and “person” that is central to abortionists ethics.  It is kind of like asking the question of “what is the definition of is”?

Situation ethics is explained by Christian apologist and attorney John Warwick Montgomery  who wrote  that “Whether we ought to follow a moral principle or not would always depend upon the situation.. .Lying could be more Christian than telling the truth. . .stealing could be better than respecting private property. . .no action is good or right of itself.  It depends on whether it hurts or helps people. . .There are no normative moral principles whatsoever which are intrinsically valid or universally obliging.  We may not absolutize the norms of human conduct. . .Love is the highest good and the first order value, the primary consideration to which in every act. . .we should be prepared to sidetrack or subordinate other value considerations of right and wrong.”

Tom Beauchamp, a bioethicists, Professor of Philosophy and Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, who received his BA from Southern Methodist University and his BD from Yale Divinity School, is of the same mind.  He wrote that  “Many humans lack properties of personhood or are less than full persons, they are thereby rendered equal or inferior in moral standing to some nonhumans.”    Let’s hope that this is not the philosophy of Yale Divinity because it is antithetical to the Biblical teaching of God’s creation of man. 

Euthanasia advocate Dan Brock, of Harvard’s Program of  Ethics and Health argues that irregardless of the right or wrong of killing a child, “in a pluralistic society like our own, with a strong commitment to freedom of religion, public policy should not be grounded in religious beliefs which many in society reject.”

Obama’s stance on infanticide is varied, and wholly dependent upon his audience.  While claiming to be a Christian, he isn’t sure when life begins; while supporting a woman’s “right” to murder her unborn child, fully supporting partial birth abortions and giving taxpayer money to Murder, Inc., he claims a desire to decrease the number of abortions.  In addition this so-called Christian doesn’t believe that a child born alive after an attempted abortion should be allowed to live.

Obama may not openly or even consciously support the utilitarian ethic that Singer and other bioethicists embrace, but his position on infanticide, his votes on abortion bills, his devaluing certain human life as unworthy of life, has its roots in evolutionary utilitarian though and defining personhood separately from humanity.

I find it vastly disturbing that, in a country where people go nuts over someone trying to drown a puppy,  they could care so little about the murder of  an innocent unborn child!







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