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. Advisors 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.'
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