Ethicist gets hate mail

A Melbourne academic has triggered an ethical storm by suggesting it is acceptable to kill newborns in so-called after-birth abortions if parents do not want them.

Ethicist Francesca Minerva said yesterday that she had received hate mail since a provocative article she co-wrote with Dr Alberto Giubilini appeared online.

They argued after-birth abortion should be allowed in cases when abortion would be permitted, including if a child had a defect such as Down syndrome.

Even in cases where the baby was born perfectly healthy, parents should have the right to end the life of the child if their own wellbeing was at risk.

The researchers said a newborn baby and a foetus were “morally equivalent” and both were “potential people”.

“If criteria such as the social, psychological and economic costs for potential parents are good enough reasons for having an abortion even when the foetus is healthy…then the same reasons which justify abortion should also justify the killing of the potential person when it is as the stage of a newborn, they said.

Adopting out an unwanted baby was not necessarily a solution because the mother might suffer psychological distress from giving up her child for adoption.

Dr Minerva said the article was not intended for public debate but rather for discussion among bioethicists.

“This debate has been going on for 30 years,” she said.

The BMJ Group said the researchers had been subjected to personal abuse, including threats to their lives.

It said the concept of infanticide was not new and the researchers had made an argument that deserved to be heard without receiving hostile abuse.
Catholic Respect Life executive officer Bronia Karniewicz said the argument that killing a healthy baby rather than putting them up for adoption because it might better benefit the parents was disturbing.

the article can be found here: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/wa/13056055/ethicist-gets-hate-mail/

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