Something Deadly This Way Comes

– HT: Blog

The insatiable appetite of the Culture of Death

The debate over abortion comes down to one essential issue — the moral status of the unborn child. Those making the case for the legalization of abortion argue that the developing fetus lacks a moral status that would trump a woman’s desire to abort the child. Those arguing against abortion do so by making the opposite claim; that the unborn child, precisely because it is a developing human being, possesses a moral status by the very fact of its human existence that would clearly trump any rationale offered for its willful destruction.

This central issue is often obscured in both public argument and private conversations about abortion, but it remains the essential question. We have laws against homicide, and if the unborn child is recognized legally and morally as a human being, abortion would be rightly seen as murder.

In the main, abortion rights advocates have drawn the moral line at the moment of birth. That is why, even with our contemporary knowledge of the developing fetus, abortion rights activists have persistently argued in favor of abortions right up to the moment of birth. Anyone doubting this claim needs only to consider the unified opposition of leading abortion rights advocates to restrictions on late-term abortions.

From the beginning of the controversy over abortion, this supposedly bright line of the moment of birth has been unstable. Abortion rights activists have even opposed efforts to restrict the gruesome reality known as partial-birth abortions. The moment of birth has never been the bright line of safety that the defenders of abortion have claimed.

Now, an even more chilling development comes in the form of an article just published in the Journal of Medical Ethics. Professors Alberto Giubilini of the University of Milan and Francesca Minerva of the University of Melbourne and Oxford University, now argue for the morality and legalization of “after-birth abortion.”

These authors do not hide their agenda. They are calling for the legal killing of newborn children.

The argument put forth in their article bears a haunting resemblance to the proposal advocated by Dr. Peter Singer of Princeton University, who has argued that the killing of a newborn baby, known as infanticide, should be allowable up to the point that the child develops some ability to communicate and to anticipate the future.

Giubilini and Minerva now argue that newborn human infants lack the ability to anticipate the future, and thus that after-birth abortions should be permitted.

The authors explain that they prefer the term “after-birth abortion” to “infanticide” because their term makes clear the fact that the argument comes down to the fact that the birth of the child is not morally significant.

They propose two justifying arguments:

  • First: “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus, that is, neither can be considered a ‘person’ in a morally relevant sense.”
  • Second: “It is not possible to damage a newborn by preventing her from developing the potentiality to be a person in the morally relevant sense.”
  • Thus: “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack the properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”

Those assertions are as chilling as anything yet to appear in the academic literature of medical ethics. This is a straightforward argument for the permissibility of murdering newborn human infants. The authors make their argument with the full intention of seeing this transformed into public policy. Further, they go on to demonstrate the undiluted evil of their proposal by refusing even to set an upper limit on the permissible age of a child to be killed by “after-birth abortion.”

These “medical ethicists” argue that a traditional abortion is a preferred option, but then state:

“Abortions at an early stage are the best option, for both psychological and physical reasons. However, if a disease has not been detected during the pregnancy, if something went wrong during the delivery, or if economical, social, or psychological circumstances change such that taking care of the offspring becomes an unbearable burden on someone, then people should be given the chance of not being forced to do something they cannot afford.”

Nothing could possibly justify the killing of a child, but these professors are so bold as to argue that even “economical, social, or psychological circumstances” would be sufficient justification.

This article in the Journal of Medical Ethics is a clear signal of just how much ground has been lost to the Culture of Death. A culture that grows accustomed to death in the womb will soon contemplate killing in the nursery. The very fact that this article was published in a peer-reviewed academic journal is an indication of the peril we face.

For years now, pro-life activists have been lectured that “slippery slope” arguments are false. This article makes clear the fact that our warnings have not been based in a slippery slope argument, but in the very reality of abortion. Abortion implies infanticide. If the unborn child lacks sufficient moral status by the fact that it is unborn, then the baby in the nursery, it is now argued, has also not yet developed human personhood.

The publication of this article signals the fact that a medical debate on this question has been ongoing. The only sane response to this argument is the affirmation of the objective moral status of the human being at every point of development, from fertilization until natural death. Anything less than the affirmation of full humanity puts every single human being at risk of being designated as not “a person in the morally relevant sense.”

Something very deadly this way comes. This argument will not remain limited to the pages of an academic journal. The murderous appetite of the Culture of Death will never be satisfied.


  1. Link to the source article:

    Remember in every group that is ‘generally known for a point of view’ the reasons people participate and the depth of conviction to those reasons falls along a big spectrum. The goal is to provoke evidence based reassessment. To that end, ‘culture of death’ (which I think is ignored as noise hyperbole) might rightly sound the resonating note of criticizing those who fail to protect, and recognize those who do well.

  2. Accepting the reasoning of these two authors forces the conclusion that anyone incapable of expressing a contrary view over a period of a few months or who don’t have someone defending their continued existence ought to ‘be invited, RSVP, regrets only, to participate in a resource consumption reduction effort, followed by cremation.’

  3. What is being put forth as “rational academic discourse” comes from a specific frame of reference that presupposes a few things, which (when I think about it) makes me more thankful than ever that I am Orthodox and am not burdened with the harshness of western Protestantism or anything of its sort:

    The presuppositions (as I see them):

    1. Human logic and “thought” is not fallen and is to be relied upon, above everything. This lies in stark contrast with our Eastern Orthodox frame of reference, which understands and acknowledges that our own logic and “thought” are part of our fallen humanity, and thus even our own logic may not always be trusted. Everything, including human logic, must be saved by Christ. I recall the famous words of Blessed Father Seraphim Rose, when he became a monastic: “I realized that I must first crucify my mind.”

    We see from this ridiculous “bioethics” discussion that human logic can lead us anywhere. It’s high time our culture quit placing such heavy emphasis on logical thought and more emphasis on the heart — though this is a difficult task in post-Christian western society.

    2. The super-individualism of western society is taken as a given in the authors’ point of view. “….Then people should be given the chance of not being forced to do something they cannot afford” then authors write. It’s as if it is assumed that there would be no caring hearts, no generosity from others in helping those who are in difficult financial circumstances. Rugged individualism is presumed, that people are on their own in life with no help from others.

    So sad that this stuff passes as appropriate to be published in an academic journal. And what is even more sad is how many people who do not have the understanding or moral underpinnings or human compassion to deal with this garbage when they read it fall victim to the “logical analysis” that is presented and then believe it?

    I’d be curious to hear Tristam Englehardt’s response to this (he is, if I am correct, a very prominent bioethicist who is also an Orthodox Christian).

    A blessed and fruitful Lent to all.

    • WRT “Human logic and “thought” is not fallen and is to be relied upon, above everything.”, this is actually the Protestant understanding which has been condemned as heresy and *not* the Orthodox or Catholic understanding. So what is? This link explains both the Orthodox and Catholic positions accurately:

      The key reason so much of the modern world has gone insane is that its logic is no longer founded on God and is now founded on man, and since man without God is dead, the logic of modern man is the logic of death.

      What Blessed Father Seraphim Rose, meant by “I realized that I must first crucify my mind.” was not that he had to become irrational like the Sufi Nasrudin or nonrational like Zen Buddhist Monks. Quite the contrary, what he meant was that he had to crucify his mind so that Christ could raise it up on the 3rd day and his mind could live.

      • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

        The scriptures say to make all thoughts captive to Christ. I’m not so sure the mind can be “crucified.”

        • ….Someone has been working on his Lenten sermons!

        • Michael Bauman :

          I take Fr Seraphim’s words in this sense: that the individual human mind and its tendenacy to elevate itself to kingly status must be submitted to the will of God and His love in all things, in all thoughts and in all efforts. Seems akin to crucifixion to me: “….Thy will, not mine be done…”

          This is espeically true for someone like Fr. Seraphim who came from a culture in which the individual mind was elevated to an especially high level and contrarian thinking was often rewarded. It was one of the reaons, I think, that Fr. Seraphim said so strongly that it is not just the words of the Fathers we must know, but we must take on the mind of the Fathers. The sacafice of the autonomous individual for the person in communion with Christ and in the Body of Christ is never easy. The nilhist spirit of our age is always calling to us to be separate, to think our own thoughts, to do what seems good to us and gives us pleasure, ease and satisfaction.

          When I was in high school, I was in a George Bernard Shaw play, Caesar & Cleopatra . That was during a time when God was leading me (as I look back) to Himself. My character was Caesar’s slave, a man from Britan. At the end of the play Ceasar frees him but my character decides to continue to serve Caesar anyway by saying, “Only as Caesar’s slave have I known true freedom”. I have always associated that with our interrelationship with God–even then at age 16.

          All obedience is initially a crucifixion but, in God, it always leads to new life and greater freedom.

          • Tyler Hudson :

            It is always amusing when someone thunders against reason using reason; for example “we cannot trust reason”. We are asked to assume that THIS statement is to be trusted. If it is true that reason is corrupt and cannot aim at truth, then the best one can do is to be silent before any assertion or claim, and join a monastery away from the world. (Yet even then, our reasons have an uncanny tenacity to aim at truth…)

            • Tyler, too funny– especially since in the Baptism service specifically everyone is to be a ‘reasoning sheep of Christ’s flock’!

            • Michael Bauman :

              Tyler, since your post appears to be a reply to mine. Where do you see that I am “thundering against reason”? That is just the opposite of my intent. Reason has to be subjected to God’s goverance just as every other aspect of our fallen being. It takes sacrifice and humility to willing harness one’s reason to God. Only the greatest of intellects are able to achieve, or perhaps the greatness of their intellect is simply the fruit of their humility.

              Anyone who claims to be Orthodox Chrisitan and assumes a stance of anti-reason does not understand the Church.

  4. Michael Bauman :

    You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill one that has been born

    The Didache, A.D. 70

    ‘Nuff said.

  5. “These authors do not hide their agenda. They are calling for the legal killing of newborn children.”

    Are we still quite sure this wasn’t a Jonathan Swift-style effort in underlining the reasons for why late-term abortion should be considered murder? Satire, perhaps? Who actually thinks like this?

    “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus, that is, neither can be considered a ‘person’ in a morally relevant sense.”

    According to whom? What makes a person a person? There is only a stark assertion here without explanation. If a newborn fetus is not a person because it lacks cognitive abilities, could the same not be said of those with Alzheimers, mental retardation or any other mental disease or illness?

    • Michael Bauman :

      Rob, it is not satire. The authors are demonically serious. You are correct in your conclusion. If we can willy-nilly define any other human being as a non-person we are all doomed.

  6. cynthia curran :

    Well, people it or not some Orthodox wanted to rid the sex trade in the 6th century. I think its excuse for the orthodox to not get involved because Roman Catholics and Protestants do.

  7. cynthia curran :

    Well, lets face it a lot of elites in the Greek Orthodoc church don’t even criticized the riots in Greece which are as bad as the Nika riot in 532. Modern Greeks with their hardships certainly have it better than the average joe of Byzantine times.

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