“A person’s a person, no matter how small” was the refrain from Dr. Seuss’ famous children’s story Horton Hears a Who! Horton the elephant has to convince his fellow jungle-dwellers that there really are tiny people on a speck of dust. When they find out Horton is right, they’re ashamed of their efforts to destroy the microscopic town of Whoville.
Well, if only modern ethicists were so ethical.
Two professors from the universities of Milan and Melbourne recently published an article in the online Journal of Medical Ethics entitled “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?”
“We claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be,” write Drs. Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva.
How do they justify this conclusion? By agreeing with what Christians have been saying all along: that a newborn is no different from a baby in the womb. But instead of accepting that both have a God-given right to life because they’re human, these ethicists argue that it ought to be legal for parents to kill either at their discretion.
If reasons like cost, stress, and inconvenience are good enough to justify an abortion, say Giubilini and Minerva, then they’re good enough to justify infanticide, or, as these ethicists call it with a straight face, “the killing of [a] potential person.”
Folks, this kind of logic isn’t new. It goes back to pre-Christian Greece and Rome, where leaving babies out to die of exposure was commonplace. In the Greek city state of Sparta, in fact, it was mandatory to kill weak or imperfect infants. And in Rome, unwanted, healthy babies were routinely thrown into the river to drown.
But as Alvin J. Schmidt describes in his book, How Christianity Changed the World, it was the church which first challenged this practice. The old images of Christians with nets fishing Roman infants out of the Tiber are as moving today as the reality was almost two thousand years ago.
Happily, Giubilini and Minerva’s article is getting a lot of attention -- and exposing their deadly logic. This is a chance for the world to see abortion for what it really is: the killing of innocent human beings, whether in the womb or just born.
Many of our laws in this country are built upon the fantasy that birth, not existence, bestows a fetus with personhood. If you kill a newborn in the United States, as infamous Philadelphia abortionist Kermitt Gosnell did for decades, you go to jail. But just minutes prior, that same act of killing can be legal.
This is nonsense. I’m praying that articles from ethicists like Giubilini and Minerva will wake people up to the reality of what they’re justifying.
If enough people start to get it, then it won’t matter what a few academic elites think. Legal abortion will crumble before the outcry of decent, moral people, just as it did when early Christians dared to speak out against infanticide and abortion in their time.
Tell your friends about this. Press people on it. If they’re not willing to condone infanticide, how can they favor abortion? Maybe they’ll be willing to admit that a person really is a person — no matter how small.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media and print.
Publication date: March 20, 2012