Guy Benson

Yes, you read that right -- fourth trimester abortions.  Outrage over the recent publication of this "ethics" report bubbled up when it was first published several weeks ago, but a piece entitled "Declaring War on Newborns"  in the upcoming edition of The Weekly Standard ought to touch off a new round of calumny and horror.  Truly appalling:
 

Last month...a pair of medical ethicists took to their profession’s bible, the Journal of Medical Ethics, and published an essay with a misleadingly inconclusive title: “After-birth Abortion: Why should the baby live?” It was a misleading title because the authors believe the answer to the question is: “Beats me.”  Right at the top, the ethicists summarized the point of their article. “What we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.” 

The argument made by the authors?—?Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, both of them affliliated with prestigious universities in Australia and ethicists of pristine reputation?—?runs as follows. Let’s suppose a woman gets pregnant. She decides to go ahead and have the baby on the assumption that her personal circumstances, and her views on such things as baby-raising, will remain the same through the day she gives birth and beyond. Then she gives birth. Perhaps the baby is disabled or suffers a disease. Perhaps her boyfriend or (if she’s old-fashioned) her husband abandons her, leaving her in financial peril. Or perhaps she’s decided that she’s just not the mothering kind, for, as the authors write, “having a child can itself be an unbearable burden for the psychological health of the woman or for her already existing children, regardless of the condition of the fetus.”

The authors point out that each of these conditions?—?the baby is sick or suffering, the baby will be a financial hardship, the baby will be personally troublesome??—??is now “largely accepted” as a good reason for a mother to abort her baby before he’s born. So why not after? “When circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.” (Their italics.) Western societies approve abortion because they have reached a consensus that a fetus is not a person; they should acknowledge that by the same definition a newborn isn’t a person either. Neither fetus nor baby has developed a sufficient sense of his own life to know what it would be like to be deprived of it. The kid will never know the difference, in other words. A newborn baby is just a fetus who’s hung around a bit too long.


The authors also argue that some animals are more entitled to "human rights" than born human babies, and that post-birth abortion is likely preferable to adoption for some mothers because of its "irreversibility."  Putting a child up for adoption might cause a woman "psychological distress," they write. This ghoulish thought experiment carries the "choice" argument to its logical, albeit extreme, end.  If a child's disability or deformity is an acceptable justification for her pre-birth slaughter, why not a few hours (or days) after she exits the womb?  If the inconvenience or financial hardship inflicted by having a child is seen as a sufficient reason to end the life of a child in utero, why not postpartum?  One of the core tenants of modern liberalism is unwavering support for abortion on demand.  The argument goes that a fetus is not a human life, or at least not quite a "full" human life, so he or she does not merit legal protection.  Mssrs. Giubilini and Minerva merely reinterpret the definition of worthy human life, using the same arguments that abortion proponents employ to rationalize and excuse the practice.  That's ridiculous, many pro-choicers will protest, birth is clearly a bright line that everyone agrees on and is reasonably seen as the dividing line between a sanctioned killing and a felony.  But isn't that "bright line" just a societal construct?  Who's to say that it's correct, fair, or just?  And isn't permitting legalized abortion while strictly outlawing infanticide yet another dreaded example of one group "imposing morality" on another?

These questions help demonstrate why the Left's "imposing values" complaint is one of its laziest intellectual arguments.  Virtually every single law in existence represents some form of imposed values.  For instance, liberals at every level of government have no qualms about telling Americans what foods we can't eat, what light-bulbs we can't purchase, what types of cars must be sold, what guns we can't own, what healthcare we must obtain, and what forms of birth control we must subsidize for other people.  Each and every one of those actions represents ideological and moral enforcement via government.  But when pro-lifers advocate that our laws should protect unborn children against capricious execution, they're furiously denounced by the pro-abortion movement as moralizing meddlers.  Will these same advocates impose their values on supporters of Giubilini and Minerva's ethical worldview, or will they wage a "war" against women who seek post-birth "choice"? 

And yes, I again use the term "pro-abortion" intentionally.  As I discussed a few weeks ago during the surreal public debate over Virginia's innocuous and reasonable ultrasound law, there are some who are passionately committed to abortion itself, not just the euphemistic "choice."  The Left indignantly insists that such people do not exist, and that anyone who suggests otherwise is a demagogue.  Perhaps they should pay more attention to the very public opinions of individuals like "reproductive & sexual health and justice" writer, Jessica DelBalzo:
 

I love abortion. I don't accept it. I don't view it as a necessary evil. I embrace it. I donate to abortion funds. I write about how important it is to make sure that every woman has access to safe, legal abortion services. I have bumper stickers and buttons and t-shirts proclaiming my support for reproductive freedom. I love abortion. And I bristle every time a fellow activist uses a trendy catch-phrase or rallying cry meant to placate pro-lifers. The first of these, “Make abortion safe, legal, and rare!” has been used for decades as a call for abortion rights.  Safe and legal are concepts I fully support, but rare is something I cannot abide...

Suggesting that abortion be “safe, legal, and rare,” and crowing that “no one likes abortion,” accomplishes nothing for women's rights. Pandering to the anti-choice movement by implying that we all find termination distasteful only fuels the fire against it. What good is common ground if it must be achieved at the expense of women who have had or will have abortions? Those women need advocates like us more than we need support from anti-abortionists. Rather than trying to cozy up to the forced-birth camp, women who value their freedom should be proud to say that they like abortion. In fact, they should venerate it whole-heartedly. Abortion is our last refuge, the one final, definitive instrument that secures our bodily autonomy. What's not to love?


Note the supportive comments ("preach!") below the original piece.  I wonder how Ms. DelBlazo feels about the ethics of post-birth abortion.  Sure, women would suffer through a full pregnancy, but at least they'd be able to dispose of children they don't really want.  "What's not to love?"


UPDATE - This occasions a reminder of Barack Obama's efforts to block and defeat anti-infanticide laws in Illinois, and his subsequent dishonest cover-up of his actions.


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography