Both sides of the political spectrum appeared to be appalled at the suggestion made by Australian ethicists Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva that newborns “are not persons," making them ineligible for the rights western society traditionally affords them and opening the door to the moral acceptability of what they term the "after-birth abortion." Hand wringing aside, what makes this idea dangerous to us here in America is that it is absolutely consistent with Progressive ideology, the dominant political ideology of the left.
For some historical context, the Greek city-state of Sparta provides us with the first documented program of systematic after-birth abortion. A Spartan child born with a deformity or who was perceived in any way as being weak would be thrown into a chasm. For these ancient Greeks, the program was a winning proposition. The death of the inferior child reduced the strain on scarce resources. It made perfect sense for a society that considered austerity to be chief among virtues. The greatest minds of the time saw nothing particularly unethical about what Spartan society was doing. In fact, the idea was even co-opted by Plato as an integral component of his utopian Republic.
Fast forward 25 centuries or so and the American Government’s plan to subsidize population control measures is still, ultimately, a strategy for controlling the consumption of resources. Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius accidentally let that fact slip recently, when in front of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health she said, “The reduction in the number of pregnancies compensates for the cost of contraception.” It’s simply a matter of dollars and cents.
Further evidence is supplied by Science Czar John P. Holdren and can be found in his 1969 book Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment. Holdren, along with his co-authors, writes “Worldwide population limitation must be accompanied by other major changes if…the already awesome burden of human misery is to be kept from increasing.” In other words there’s just not enough to go around, let’s reduce the number of mouths to feed.
But while Sebelius and Holdren’s rational might be similar to those of the Kings of Sparta, most could be forgiven for believing with Spartan morality a distant speck in humanity’s rear view mirror, population control measures would be limited to measures leveled against the “pre-born” or through purely voluntary means (the west’s dalliance with eugenics and compulsory sterilization not withstanding).
Enter the progressive “ethicist”.
Giubilini and Minerva explain the rationale behind their judgment saying that, “Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life'”
Life, long held to be a natural right afforded to all, has been replaced with a nebulous idea of a moral right afforded to some. What is a moral right? It’s anything the ethicists say it is. To whom is it afforded? Whomever the ethicists decide.
To summarize, the Australian duo, through somewhat circular reasoning, has decided that the approximately 367,000 babies born every day (according to the Census Bureau’s global population clock) are born into a state of non-personhood, remain in that state until the ethicists decide otherwise, and while in that state their elimination would rank on the scale of unethical acts somewhere between stealing a pack of gum and falling asleep.
Are you awake yet?
By eliminating natural rights from the equation, Giubilini and Minerva eliminated the moral barrier standing between a civil society and genocidal age discrimination.
While we might be shocked to see such a casual disregard for the moral foundations of Western society in a modern academic journal, the two are not exactly breaking new ground. Progressivism rejected natural rights in the 19th and 20th century. Hero of progressive academics John Dewey, for example, dismissed the idea of natural rights as a “pre-scientific” concept that finds its roots in “medieval religion." President Woodrow Wilson took the same rout when he dismissed the introduction of the Declaration of Independence as “the least part” of the document, holding that “we hold these truths to be self-evident…” was outdated rhetoric.
Progressives will not allow morality to be influenced by some ancient text or idea from the 17th century. Right and wrong will be spelled out on the pages of academic journals like the one that published Giubilini and Minerva.
With the benefit of 2500 years of hindsight, the Spartans can be excused for their moral failings, as they didn't have the benefit of the philosophical concept of natural rights. No such excuse can be made for us in the 21st century. The suggestion that after-birth abortions are ethically acceptable is not a new idea, but rather an old idea dressed up in new language. It represents one of the clearest indications yet that Western society is on a path that will return her to a barbaric past.