The Journal of Medical Ethics sparked a firestorm last February when it ran the article “After-Birth Abortion: Why Should the Baby Live?” They have now devoted an entire issue, much of it open-access, to that topic. Many of its contributors will be familiar names to readers of First Things.
Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, authors of the original article, clarify their views. The pro-abortion Jeff McMahan explores the absurdities of much abortion-related legislation and the considerations that surround killing babies (born or unborn) and animals. Regina A. Rini, meanwhile, finds Giubilini and Minerva’s arguments incoherent and proposes a new framework that permits abortion but rejects infanticide.
On the pro-life side, John Finnis refutes the arguments that humans do not acquire rights until becoming conscious of themselves and that unconscious human beings cannot be harmed, and Francis J. Beckwith contests the claims that babies are merely potential persons and that the burdensomeness of a new life is morally relevant.
Charles Camosy acknowledges the similarity between unborn and newborn infants—a key point of Giubilini and Minerva’s view—but rejects the conclusion that neither group possesses a right to life. Robert P. George and Camosy then dispute whether proposing infanticide constitutes moral madness. View the whole issue here.