Infanticide – a consistent option of abortion? (PART 1)

Recently, an article was written in the Medical Ethics Journal regarding the use of infanticide as a viable option of abortion. For those not aware of the term infanticide, it simply means the killing of an infant. It has been proposed by some (including the President of the United States who voted for it) that the name be called after-birth abortion. Before doing a critique of the “medical” paper, I want to first give you some of the arguments for abortion and my defense against them.

A Fetus is not a Person

In order to make abortion morally permissible, it is important that those making the claim segment humans into two types of persons. (1) Human persons, those who have personhood and are productive members of society and (2) Human non-persons, those who are humans but not people. The reason for doing this is to determine who has value. Human persons are protected from murder and human non-persons are not protected and thus have the same (actually less) rights than dogs.

This is, of course, the exact same argument that was used prior to the 1860 to segment a certain class of human called Negros. It was argued that negros were human non-persons and could thus be owned for others, and kill on demand. As non-persons the negro had no rights because “it” was not a person, just a biological human. I use the word “negro” purposefully as the word was used, even in our Constitution, to segment persons just as the word fetus is used today.

Of course the only way to make such an absurd argument requires that all humans (both types) have no intrinsic value (rights just because we are human) and the value of humans must be based on some subjective scale. The scale used is most often a sliding scale so it is nearly impossible to lock these people down to a standard. For instance, many will say, a human becomes a person when they are no longer reliant on another. This argument provides consistent justification for killing a baby in the womb, but it also allows for an opening for killing a new born, a toddler, the handicapped and the aged. Most of those who make this claim are not willing to take the argument to the consistent conclusion. Given the fact that the Nazis made such claims, it is on dangerous grounds to make the argument publicly.

In reality the entire justification for abortion of any kind is dependent on the segmentation of person-hood as all other arguments are just sub-arguments to this position. If there are no biological differences between a fetus and a 15 year old (and non has ever been found) then the concept of person-hood is irrelevant to the value of the thing being killed.

I would be remiss if I failed to point out the inconsistency of our laws in this regard. Abortion is a state law in most states and abortion on demand is legal for the mother to do without any consequence. In many of these same states, the consequence for murdering a pregnant mother is two counts of murder. Below is penal code 187 from the state of California:

187. (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being or a fetus, with malice aforethought.

Section (b) gives the mother the ability to kill the fetus without any consequence. This seems to show that the value of the argument for person-hood is segmented yet again. A fetus has person-hood if I want to kill “it” but has no person-hood if the mother wants to kill “it”. There is yet another parallel to slavery. It was okay for me to kill my slaves, but not for you to do it.

Additionally, we see the concept of uber-rights in play here with the segmentation of the population of women into women who have children (mothers) and thus have uber-rights to kill innocent human beings and women without children (females) who cannot kill innocent human beings. Though I have avoided the term of morality largely in this article. I must pause and ask myself if uber-rights are designed to supersede what is right and wrong, moral and immoral. How can it be that to kill an innocent human person is wrong for everyone EXCEPT for the one person given the responsibility to care for the child the most – the mother? If this the case then right and wrong are not grounded in anything and thus have no meaning at all. Sections (b) [1-2] of California Penal Code gives use a better understanding of the concept of uber-rights as it states that the mother and anyone aiding or solicited by the mother is free from prosecution. Thus a pregnant female has the greatest right ever given to humanity, even greater than those given to the state, who are not immune from kill without cause. A pregnant female has the right to kill innocent human life:

(b) This section shall not apply to any person who commits an act that results in the death of a fetus if any of the following apply: (1) The act complied with the Therapeutic Abortion Act, Article 2 (commencing with Section 123400) of Chapter 2 of Part 2 of Division 106 of the Health and Safety Code. (2) The act was committed by a holder of a physician’s and surgeon’ s certificate, as defined in the Business and Professions Code, in a case where, to a medical certainty, the result of childbirth would be death of the mother of the fetus or where her death from childbirth, although not medically certain, would be substantially certain or more likely than not. (3) The act was solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the mother of the fetus. (Effect Added)

It should be clear from the inability to “objectively” define person-hood separately from humanity, that they are one and the same. If they are one and the same, there is absolutely no justification for killing an innocent human being no matter who you are or your status. As stated before, all other arguments pivot on this one, but we will take the time and look at some of them – nonetheless.

A Fetus is not a Developed Human Being

I can’t help but agree with this argument. It is absolutely true that the fetus is not a developed human being. It is instead a developing human. If under the correct circumstances, in EVERY occasion, a fetus will become a developed human being. If it were to turn into anything else, then I might change my position on killing it, but to my knowledge a human mother has never given birth to anything other than a human being. The bigger question is when does development stop? Children are in a state of development, we call it puberty. Adults are developing mentally for their entire life so I am not exactly sure what developing human being means.

A variation of this argument is the “it doesn’t look like a human” argument. Again, I would ask what does a human look like? The fact is the fetus looks like a human at that stage of development. We all looked just like that at that point in our existence. So a fetus looks like a perfect human at that stage in its development.

A fetus is Dependent on the Mother so it is up to the Mother to Make its Decisions Regarding Life.

This is the location argument and as we look at the medical ethics journal in part two of this post, you will see how important it is to destroy this argument. If the person-hood and humanity are established as one and the same, then location of the person is irrelevant. Another way of saying this is if person-hood and humanity are not one in the same, then location is irrelevant. If there is a moral justification for killing a baby in the womb, then the same justification is permissible outside of the womb. Location does not matter. I knew it was a matter of time before a sly philosopher realized this and this is the justification given in the Medical Ethics Journal.

A Mother Should not Have to Live with the Product of Rape and Incest

The compassion argument is the politician’s favorite. After all, a mother should not have to experience rape or incest or be punished by them with pregnancy. Anyone who says otherwise is a dis-compassionate ass! If we look past the emotion, I’m not sure what rape or incest has to do with abortion. They are two different issues. Why do we find it morally permissible to punish an innocent party (meaning the fetus) because of a rapist? In addition, the location argument is in play here. If I were standing next to a two year old child who was the product of rape or incest, is it okay for me to kill him or her? If not, why not? It seems to me that a two year old child is a bigger reminder of the violent action of rape or incest so killing him or her seems to make more sense then that of killing a fetus where the mother can’t see it. Few would make the claim that killing a two year old child is a good alternative. As much as I believe that rape is a more horrible crime than even murder (given the lasting affects to the victims), I don’t see the connection between the violent act and the killing of an innocent party.

Abortion is Going to Happen Anyway so we Might as Well Keep it Legal.

By far this is my favorite defense of abortion because it is by far the most absurd. This is the pragmatic argument for abortion and it makes no sense at all. Just think about this for a second. Are the arguers seriously stating that because a law is being broken, that we should make the illegal action legal? Rape is going to happen and does all the time so we should make it legal. Shoplifting happens all the time so we should make that legal too. The absurdity of the pragmatic argument is so obvious that it boils my blood when I hear it.

Our laws are created to protect the innocent. Do we really want a society where laws are abolished because the innocent are not being protected? If this is the case, then we need to get rid of the rule of law completely and instead live in a state of anarchy.

Conclusion of Part 1

Given all of these arguments, in the next few days, I will take a crack at the article in the Medical Ethics Journal. In the mean time, I would hope the you would take a moment and read the arguments from the journal and see if you can destroy its premise.

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