In the above clip, Peter Singer pretends that his call for allowing infanticide is merely about preventing the suffering of infants with ultimately terminal conditions, and limited to situations in which a decision has been made by parents and doctors to let them die by withdrawing life-extending medical treatment. At that point, he says, he supports taking actions to end their lives “swiftly and humanely” since they are going to die within a relatively short time anyway after a miserable life. And he can’t understand why disability rights groups would oppose such humane ideas when they should support eliminating the suffering of their doomed brothers and sisters.
But that is lying by omission. Singer believes infants are not persons and thus, do not have a right to life. But knowing most people would not support killing “normal” infants, he uses examples of killing a disabled baby to promote the morality of infanticide based on utilitarian equations. And this is a very calculated strategy to make the odious concept more palatable (which it shouldn’t) to general society.
Indeed, he has written in support of killing babies with non lethal disabling conditions, not to alleviate otherwise unending misery, but to benefit parents and siblings. In Practical Ethics,for example, he argued that hemophiliac babies can be killed to benefit the life of a hypothetical future sibling—even if the killed infant could have been happy had he been allowed to live:
When the death of a disabled infant will lead to the birth of another infant with better prospects of a happy life, the total amount of happiness will be greater if the disabled infant is killed. The loss of happy life for the first infant is outweighed by the gain of a happier life for the second. Therefore, if killing the hemophiliac infant has no adverse effect on others, it would according to the total view, be right to kill him.
In Rethinking Life and Death he argued in favor of allowing babies with Down syndrome to be killed—based on the burden of care for the parents—not on an unlivable suffering life for the baby, using euphemistic language to soften the cold harshness of his beliefs:
Both for the sake of ‘our children’...and for our own sake, we may not want a child to start on life’s uncertain voyage if the prospects are clouded. When this can be known at a very early stage of the voyage we may still have a chance to make a fresh start. This means detaching ourselves from the infant who has been born, cutting ourselves free before the ties that have already begun to bind us to our child have become irresistible. Instead of going forward and putting all our efforts into making the best of the situation, we can still say no, and start again from the beginning.
In the same book he states that the life of a mackerel is equivalent to that of a baby:
Since neither a newborn human infant nor a fish is a person, the wrongness of killing such beings is not as great as the wrongness of killing a person.
Disability rights groups disdain Singer’s views—as should we all—because he harnesses antipathy toward disability in the cause of supplanting human exceptionalism and the Judeo/Christian ethic—in the entirely secular sense, as he admits—with a broader utilitarian transformation of society that would destroy universal human rights. We should never let him disingenuously attempt to pretend that he is not seeking just such a radical and oppressive transformation of society.
Oh yes: Disability rights activists do oppose letting babies die by non treatment because they will be disabled. That is why, for example, they oppose futile care theory. So, once again, Singer lied by omission.