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University of Chicago Professor: Infanticide Is Morally Acceptable

Jerry Coyne, a professor in the department of ecology and human evolution at the University of Chicago, recently posted a defense of killing disabled infants on his Why Evolution Is True blog:

If you are allowed to abort a fetus that has a severe genetic defect, microcephaly, spina bifida, or so on, then why aren’t you able to euthanize that same fetus just after it’s born?

His argument, which is riddled with flaws and mistaken assumptions, begins with a claim commonly found in the works of pro-infanticide philosophers:

After all, newborn babies aren’t aware of death, aren’t nearly as sentient as an older child or adult, and have no rational faculties to make judgments (and if there’s severe mental disability, would never develop such faculties). It makes little sense to keep alive a suffering child who is doomed to die or suffer life in a vegetative or horribly painful state.

In short, lack of sentience and reason boosts the moral acceptability of killing deformed and handicapped infants. This reasoning makes sense only in a “throwaway culture,” which presumes that it’s right to discard the weakest and most vulnerable simply because they don’t meet an arbitrarily imposed marker of when life is worth saving.

It is the logic of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World: eliminate any responsibility to care for the suffering by trying to remove all suffering. The problem, however, is that killing is a poor means of reducing pain and suffering. It fosters a culture that undermines the value of life. And this isn’t merely words on a page. In the Netherlands, for example, some patients have been euthanized because they were “tired of living,” as the Washington Post reported in a recent story on assisted suicide. Promoting death is a recipe for more suffering and loss, not less.

Read more at National Review. 

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