Doctors should have the right to kill newborn babies because they are disabled, too expensive or simply unwanted by their mothers, an academic with links to Oxford University has claimed.
Francesca Minerva, a philosopher and medical ethicist, argues a young baby is not a real person and so killing it in the first days after birth is little different to aborting it in the womb.
Even a healthy baby could have its life snuffed out if the mother decides she can’t afford to look after it, the article published by the British Medical Journal group states.
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Writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Dr Minerva and co-author Alberto Giubilini, a University of Milan bioethicist, argue that ‘after-birth abortion’ should be permissible in all cases in which abortion is.
They state that like an unborn child, a newborn has yet to develop hopes, goals and dreams and so, while clearly human, is not a person – someone with a moral right to life.
In contrast, parents, siblings and society have aims and plans that could be affected by the arrival of the child and their interests should come first.
The article, After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? first addresses scenarios in which parents are unaware their child is disabled until after it is born.
The piece argues that, though the child may be happy, it will not reach the potential of a normal child.
‘To bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole…On these grounds, the fact that a foetus has the potential to become a person who will have an (at least) acceptable life is no reason for prohibiting abortion.’
The ethicists are also in favour of the infanticide of a healthy baby when the woman’s circumstances have changed and she no longer has the time, money or energy to care for it.
They argue that while adoption might be an option, it could cause undue psychological distress to the mother.