A couple of bio-ethicists have recently made the case for after-birth abortion. Again. This isn’t news. The pro-choice logic has obviously pointed that way for years, and Planned Parenthood spokespersons and great pro-choice thinkers have been more than happy to advocate infanticide for decades. The only thing that’s new this time around is that a major outlet like Slate seems willing to talk about it.
(Side note: why is it that every time I hear about bio-ethicists it’s because they’re advocating new and exciting rationalizations for homicide? Is that just the career choice of well-adjusted homicidal maniacs these days? Is there an aptitude test somewhere that says: “Well, you can either become a mass-murderer or–to avoid vigorous exercise and possible jail time–you can just write long-winded treatises in favor of pushing the legal envelope on killing humans beings.”)
In any case, William Saletan is doing just that: taking the issue seriously. Saletan is, from what I can tell, a dissident pro-choice voice. He supports legalized abortion, but is highly critical of the arguments deployed by the largest pro-choice institutions. And, as he illustrates, this new modest proposal for infanticide (sadly it is not satire) causes problems for the pro-choice side by directly calling into question many of their key assumptions, such as:
- The moral significance of fetal development is arbitrary.
- Prior to personhood, human life has no moral claims on us.
- Any burden on the woman outweighs the value of the child.
- The value of life depends on choice.
- Discovery of a serious defect is grounds for termination.
The list reads like a pro-life critique of the current pro-choice rationales, and I think it’s going to be another example (partial-birth abortion was the first, no matter what Saletan thinks of the term) where it’s pro-choice extremism that really does more to damage the movement than pro-life activism ever could. It’s taken a long, long, long time but–I hope–eventually the American people will come to see abortion for what it really is. (Which, not to leave anyone on a cliffhanger, is simply the further exploitation of women as sexual objects.)