“Liberals Are Disgusting”: In Defence of the Publication of “After-Birth Abortion”

The Journal of Medical Ethics prepublished electronically an article by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva entitled “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?

This article has elicited personally abusive correspondence to the authors, threatening their lives and personal safety. The Journal has received a string abusive emails for its decision to publish this article. This abuse is typically anonymous.

I am not sure about the legality of publishing abusive threatening anonymous correspondence, so I won’t repeat it here. But fortunately there is plenty on the web to choose from. Here are some responses:

“These people are evil. Pure evil. That they feel safe in putting their twisted thoughts into words reveals how far we have fallen as a society.”

“Right now I think these two devils in human skin need to be delivered for immediate execution under their code of ‘after birth abortions’ they want to commit murder – that is all it is! MURDER!!!”

“I don‘t believe I’ve ever heard anything as vile as what these “people” are advocating. Truly, truly scary.”

“The fact that the Journal of Medical Ethics published this outrageous and immoral piece of work is even scarier”

(Comments from http://www.theblaze.com/stories/ethicists-argue-in-favor-of-after-birth-abortions-as-newborns-are-not-persons/#comments)

As Editor of the Journal, I would like to defend its publication. The arguments presented, in fact, are largely not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world, including Peter Singer, Michael Tooley and John Harris in defence of infanticide, which the authors call after-birth abortion.

The novel contribution of this paper is not an argument in favour of infanticide – the paper repeats the arguments made famous by Tooley and Singer – but rather their application in consideration of maternal and family interests. The paper also draws attention to the fact that infanticide is practised in the Netherlands.

Many people will and have disagreed with these arguments. However, the goal of the Journal of Medical Ethics is not to present the Truth or promote some one moral view. It is to present well reasoned argument based on widely accepted premises. The authors provocatively argue that there is no moral difference between a fetus and a newborn. Their capacities are relevantly similar. If abortion is permissible, infanticide should be permissible. The authors proceed logically from premises which many people accept to a conclusion that many of those people would reject.

Of course, many people will argue that on this basis abortion should be recriminalised. Those arguments can be well made and the Journal would publish a paper than made such a case coherently, originally and with application to issues of public or medical concern. The Journal does not specifically support substantive moral views, ideologies, theories, dogmas or moral outlooks, over others. It supports sound rational argument. Moreover, it supports freedom of ethical expression. The Journal welcomes reasoned coherent responses to After-Birth Abortion. Or indeed on any topic relevant to medical ethics.

What is disturbing is not the arguments in this paper nor its publication in an ethics journal. It is the hostile, abusive, threatening responses that it has elicited. More than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.

On the Blaze which reported it (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/ethicists-argue-in-favor-of-after-birth-abortions-as-newborns-are-not-persons/#comments):

“Liberals are disgusting. They have criminal minds. To think that a person must be considered “worthy” to live is criminal.”

“It seems to me if good people are not going to stand up to do away with people who believe in doing away with live babies, then it means no one is good, and it’s just easier for God to drop a couple asteroids on earth.”

“i can’t even comment on this atrocity. I know these people are murderers in their hearts. And God will treat them as such. They are completely spiritually dead.”

“I have to say that I would personally kill anyone doing a after-birth abortion if I had the chance. Is that clear enough?”

The comments include openly racist remarks:

“Alberto Giubilini looks like a muslim so I have to agree with him that all muslims should have been aborted. If abortion fails, no life at birth – just like he wants.

“Journal of Medical Ethics” — hahaha! You libs and your quack science. Ya think that’s impressive, Albutt & Franpoop? No ****! I can beat you in my sleep. Here goes:

I take a ‘subject of a moral right to life’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to my own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to me.

Here’s the “projected moral status” you comunisti italiani pigs would get: Bang, bang. Drop in toxic waste dump reserved for left-wing contaminants.”

What the response to this article reveals, through the microscope of the web, is the deep disorder of the modern world. Not that people would give arguments in favour of infanticide, but the deep opposition that exists now to liberal values and fanatical opposition to any kind of reasoned engagement.

Julian Savulescu, Editor, Journal of Medical Ethics

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642 thoughts on ““Liberals Are Disgusting”: In Defence of the Publication of “After-Birth Abortion”

  1. Now, it is wrong to advocate violence against these two men. However, it is also wrong to generalize moral abhorrence to the article/study as hate speech. These “ethicists” [if ever a greater misnomer existed, I am unaware of it] have authored a study that in a very real way legitimizes valuing gradations of “person-hood”. Were this mindset to proliferate in the halls of academia and then into the wider world, it could be used to bring back slavery, genocide and any number of horrific devaluations of human life. 

    It should provoke anger. I am no religious fanatic, religion is irrelevant to the subject at hand. We are talking about justifying a perspective on the value of life that would accord those with power the ability to casually slaughter those without free of guilt or consequence. 

    That cannot be allowed in a civilized society. And you can be damned sure millions of people would fight to prevent such murder should it be adopted as a legal practice.

  2. Coming up to me at a meeting the other day, an ethics
    colleague waved a paper at me. “Have you seen this ?”she asked,  “It’s unbelievable!” The paper was ‘After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” by two philosophers writing from Australia, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva. 

    Well yes, I agreed, I had seen it: in fact I had been the editor responsible for deciding that it should be published in the Journal of Medical Ethics; and no, I didn’t think it was unbelievable, since I know that arguing strongly for a position with which many people will disagree and some even find offensive, is something that philosophers are often willing, and may even feel they have a duty, to do, in order that their arguments may be tested in the crucible of debate with other philosophers who are equally willing to argue strongly against them. 

    Of course for that debate to take place in the Journal of Medical Ethics, many of whose readers, doctors and health care workers as well as philosophers, may well disagree, perhaps strongly, with the paper’s  arguments, we needed first to make sure that the paper, like any other submitted to the Journal, was of sufficient academic quality for us to publish; and the normal way in which we determine this is to invite academics in relevant disciplines to review the paper critically for us, so that we can eventually make an informed decision about whether or not to publish it, either in its original or (as in this case) a form revised in the light of the reviewers’ reports. 

    Satisfied by the reviewers’ reports and my further editorial review that the paper was of sufficient academic quality to be published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, and being charged with making the decision as an Editor with no conflict of interest in the matter, since unlike my fellow-editors in the relatively small world of international academic medical ethics I have never met the authors, and indeed personally do not agree with the conclusions of their paper, I decided that it was appropriate to publish it in the interest of academic freedom of debate.  

    It has subsequently been suggested to me that people whose lives might have been ended by ‘after-birth abortion’ were this legal, might be deeply offended by this paper. If that is the case I am sorry, but I am also confident that many of these people are equally capable of mounting a robust academic reply to the paper which, again subject to peer-review, the Journal of Medical Ethics will be very willing to consider for publication.

    Kenneth M Boyd, Rev Emeritus Professor of Medical Ethics

  3. By the same perverse logic one could maintain that there is no difference between a fetus, a newborn, or the authors themselves. The reason for the intense backlash is the almost nazi-like disregard for life, under the guise of articulating a provacative but in some instances an accepted viewpoint. I'm certain that the authors understood that their thesis is tantamount to advocating legalized murder, and so no one should be shocked by the response.

  4. Really? You pretend outrage when people are upset that you want to kill babies? Is there any more outrageous thing to state? But you say it's okay because you have come up with the novel approach of considering the mother's happiness? Or the fact that babies costs money? Oh, you have truly advanced our society. I suppose you expect to be applauded? I mean, if they.re doing it in the Netherlands… You would make Hitler proud!

  5. You can dispassionately discuss a formalized method for killing full-term babies yet are troubled by heated rhetoric that arises from your discussion of same. And you provide samples of verbal abuse as if they prove some sort of moral equivalence. Monsters.

  6. What is considered “newborn”?  Compared to the Joshua Tree, all people alive today are relatively newly-born.  Is abortion now considered acceptable up to the 300th trimester?  I strongly suggest that the publishers review the definition of ethics.

  7. First, thank you for at least opening up comments on your defense to publishing this controversial 'paper'. The problem is that you see the comments from The Blaze and other sites as a 'Disorder of the Modern World'. All I can say is if believing in life is a disorder, then more power to us.

    And if your liberal values are to not believe in life, then where does the 'disorder' really belong? Who really has the 'disorder'ed thinking here. Those who kill babies or those who want them to live?

  8. Thank you for your detailed reply. I don't blame you for publishing the piece of work. I do disagree with the 'philosophy' of the work as you stated you do. When you do publish such controversial work such as this, tho, you should expect the blowback you are getting. 

  9. While logic is certainly laudable, and academic freedom is certainly necessary, you cannot hide behind them when your publications evoke a justified ire.
    There is no deep disorder in the world, Madame Savulescu. There is a deep disorder in academia that causes its participants and advocates to dismiss the disbelief of humanity at large.
    Academia is no longer a bastion of intelligence, nor is it a wellspring of knowledge. It is a clique of self-admiring, self-aggrandizing, self-proclaimed “intellectuals” that ignore the basic tenets of humanity at will, and contemn any who dare to criticize them with anything but the academically approved language and form that they (the intellectuals) propone.

    I'm quite certain that you've been offended that some, not as liberal or educated as yourself, have dared to attack this article and, by extension or implication, your journal. However, if, as an academic, you were to withdraw from the microcosm of academia, you would realize that such reactions are not uncommon, even among liberals. When presented with something so outrageous, so sickening, so incredibly disturbing, strong emotions come to the forefront, and often they spill right out without any further thought.

    While I don't intend to imply that the responses you've listed are logical or acceptable, I do intend to ignore all the subsequent frivolity you've written. Your journal published an extremely offensive—even if well-reasoned—article. You attacked the deepest held beliefs of the majority of humanity. You allowed an article to be published that advocates dispassionate violence against the most helpless of all human beings.
    Yet, somehow, all you're worried about is the “deep opposition” … “to liberal values and fanatical opposition to” … “reasoned engagement.”

    But I've said enough. Don't let me waste your time any longer. Please, Madame, pour another round for your ivory tower colleagues, and go back to the back-patting, the patronization of humanity at large, the narcissism with which you justify your every action, and ignore us, the fanatics that dare to believe that there are lines that should not be crossed, even in the name of academic freedom.

  10. Many have already commented on the perverse irony of flailing around and weeping about some abusive comments. Surely this reaction is expected or are these ethicists so pollyanna about how a well reasoned argument might be offensive? If you crafted a well reasoned argument supporting gassing all gay people, you would get offensive comments in return, and not all the authors of said comments would be inclined to rebutt you in conclusive detail. Is that not obvious? If you presented a well reasoned (though flawed) argument that the holocaust didn't happen, do you expect no one to hurl invective and threats at you?

  11.  I think such published works will do more to worry the abortion industry than any anti-abortion rant.
    It serves to illuminate the human messiness advocated by Singer et al where reason is separated from the informing role of faith as best expressed through Catholic teaching, in my view.
    We hear much on the inverse where “works” of faith are totally detached from reason. 
    This paper, displaying cold hard reason devoid of any understanding of life as gift, will serve a purpose far beyond the authors' intent. 

  12. Now, it is wrong to advocate violence against these two men. However, it is also wrong to generalize moral abhorrence to the article/study as hate speech. These “ethicists” [if ever a greater misnomer existed, I am unaware of it] have authored a study that in a very real way legitimizes valuing gradations of “person-hood”. Were this mindset to proliferate in the halls of academia and then into the wider world, it could be used to bring back slavery, genocide and any number of horrific devaluations of human life. 

    It should provoke anger. I am no religious fanatic, religion is irrelevant to the subject at hand. We are talking about justifying a perspective on the value of life that would accord those with power the ability to casually slaughter those without free of guilt or consequence. 

    That cannot be allowed in a civilized society. And you can be damned sure millions of people would fight to prevent such murder should it be adopted as a legal practice.

  13. Murder is Murder — no matter how you dress it up. No wonder people are so annoyed. They have every right to be. Only morally and spiritually bankrupt people could have written or agree with this article.

  14. It probably would please the authors to consider all their critics rabble and pro-life extremists, but speaking as a trained philosopher, there is nothing more absurd and boring than arguments that take for granted that they can know when personhood begins, or that it is even a clear concept, not to mention abstractions like “life”. Ethics cannot be deduced from empty premises. A system of ethics only foundation (if you could call it that) could be the moral experience arising from a situational response. These responses constitute our understanding of our relation to others made explicit in morals and systematic in ethics. Levinas has provided I think the only possible ethics; response to being confronted morally. Something like that is happening in reactions here, that is, debating critics by saying that they are just simply rejecting a premise they find odious is completely missing the point; when confronted by the moral situation of a living being that they respond to compassionately, they reject it. Thats called facing up to moral responsibility. Its the choice that moral beings are offered. And many reject it, vociferously. That said, of course I prefer reasoned debate, but bringing it up in this circumstance is just bad faith. If you presented a well reasoned paper on holocaust denial, I would support your right to publish it, but would understand if you received a lot of abuse. To republish the most extreme reactions is just a way to paint opponents with a broad brush. Welcome to the internet, not everyone is going to bow to your will to debate your every premise. They might just tell you what they think of you or the authors instead.

  15. “As Editor of the Journal, I would like to defend its publication. The
    arguments presented, in fact, are largely not new and have been
    presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the
    most eminent philosophers”

    Talk about your non sequiturs.

  16. I deplore the death threats leveled at the
    authors. While I strongly disagree with Giubilini and Minerva, I am in favor of such
    views being advanced in scholarly literature. Why? Because they are
    self-parodying and ultimately self-defeating. Anyone can rationalize murder, but even most who do don't really think it's not wrong.
    That said, JME should not have published this particular article. Not
    because of what it argues, but because of how badly the point is argued.
    Honestly, I would expect better from undergraduates. Take this passage,
    for example:
    It might be claimed that someone is harmed because she is
    prevented from becoming a person capable of appreciating her own being
    alive. Thus, for example, one might say that we would have been harmed
    if our mothers had chosen to have an abortion while they were pregnant
    with us7 or if they had killed us as soon as we were born. However,
    whereas you can benefit someone by bringing her into existence (if her
    life is worth living), it makes no sense to say that someone is harmed
    by being prevented from becoming an actual person. The reason
    is that, by virtue of our definition of the concept of ‘harm’ in the
    previous section, in order for a harm to occur, it is necessary that
    someone is in the condition of experiencing that

    The bolded portion is baldly question-begging. Had I written that in
    my Philosophy 101 course as a college freshman, I would have received a
    richly deserved failing grade. There are numerous similar flaws, chief among them
    the use of loaded terms to do the heavy lifting, rather than using
    actual arguments. Sure, the conclusion follows from the premises, but
    that is achieved entirely through creative definitions. The definition of terms such as “harm” is clearly undertaken with an
    eye toward the conclusion, and the definitions are not defended
    with any serious rigor. If ever in your philosophizing you reach the
    conclusion that killing an organism (any organism!) does not “harm” the
    organism, then it is time to just stop, because philosophy is not your
    (P.S., I did get a kick out of the choice of the term “after-birth
    abortion.” Some have called it Orwellian, but it’s more Onion-worthy than Orwell-worthy.)

  17.  I appreciate your willingness to publish controversial work, but I must suggest that perhaps a few more rounds of back-and-forth with the authors were needed to get this paper up to sufficient academic quality. For one thing, the argument as the authors presented it begs the question. Someone should have caught that in the editing process.

    I also agree with Michael Byrne that if arguments such as this one gain currency, they are more likely to erode support for abortion than to increase support for infanticide.

    Of course, I have derived quite a bit of fun making “after-birth abortion” jokes. That has to be the best euphemism ever.

  18. Dear Editors,
    Alas i have nothing brand new to say here (has anyone?). But I am glad you printed it. Because something is shocking does not mean it should not be considered and your Journal is not consciously preaching and it is not for children. Personally I am fairly glad you printed it, because it does show how certain conclusions that then become the premise for the next move “forward”should perhaps be re-assessed. “Conservative” ethical thinkers have been arguing for some decades that the ideas used to argue for abortion (except in the rarest of cases) is sad but really OK morally, do lead rationally to unthinkable conclusions that are often said to be Nazi-like. Thanks to your intellectual integrity (and i am not being sarcastic) what many on the losing side of the Abortion debate have been saying, that was mocked as fear mongering “slippery sloping, now can point to this article.
    I think you seem a little precious to be so shocked at the reaction and to pretend that the real villains are the abusive email – it certainly might seem odd to the recently born babies whose danger is their lose of life. Certainly the threats of death seem odd for people defending the “right to life” but it is hard for us all to stay calm in the light of such possible actions   

  19. If these “scholars” were to propose that Jews, or Blacks, or Gypsies “did not have the moral status of persons,” and/or should be subjected to “after-birth abortion,” there would be NO QUESTION their article would never be published…and rightly so.

  20. Well, you're absolutely right. Mean comments, especially those that contain racism, are paramount when we are talking about life. Your comment about “fanatical opposition to any kind of reasoned argument” is the height of irony for presuming an argument in favor of infanticide would ever be a “reasoned argument.” Truly disgusting and one more reason science is losing credibility, which is truly a shame.  These two ought to face a lifetime of unemployment and your journal should be disbanded altogether. It is anti-ethical and a farce of science.

    And I'm staunchly pro-choice.

  21. Sir, if you advance “peer review” as a justification for the publication of an article advocating (or at least excusing) infanticide, you have just demonstrated how hollow “peer review” really is.  And the moral bankruptcy of the academy.

    Moreover, I would suggest to you that when the subject is killing humans after they are born, your “peers” would include the ordinary Americans outraged by your article.  On matters of life and death, your “medical ethics” professors are no more or less “peers” than the man on the street.  Or in the pews.

  22. Abortion should not be permissible and infanticide should not be permissible in any decent society.  They are MURDER, pure and simple.  

  23. You published a paper calling for the murder of newborns as non-people, and you are surprised at the reaction? How long have you used the internet?
    I agree that death threats and the racist comments are out of line, but you cannot seriously have expected to avoid any outbursts.
    I will say that having read the paper, even though I support abortion, I am absolutely disgusted by it.
    Do not try to pretty up this idea by calling it abortion, it is euthanasia. If the authors wish to have this debate then they should come out and state it. There is a place for euthanasia in certain extreme cases, but those have to be medical. Simply saying that a living human who can survive outside the mother and will not medically harm the mother in any way shape or form, is a non-person is a cop out.
    I became a father one year ago, my daughter for the first 3 months didn't seem to be doing much interaction with the world. She didn't know when something was dangerous or safe, she didn't really interact with anything except to look at it, push it away or feebly grasp it. Was she a person? Now at a year old she can interact with the world but she still doesn't comprehend a lot of it. Is she a person?

    Have an honest debate about euthanasia and maybe you'll have some support. This article was not that, it is trying to push its ideas of social engineering through double speak.

  24. I understand the over the top comments. I'm not too fond of murderers either. That these two try to couch infanticide as an abortion shows just how crazy the post-modernists have become.

  25. So, to this author and the authors of the article in question, infanticide is a “liberal value”? I would point out that only a few of the comments quoted contain actual threats, and I do not condone those, although the authors would not be defenseless, as those whom they advocate murdering would be. But it is the defense of infanticide that reveals the deep disorder of the modern world, not objections to it. This is chilling, and Orwellian, and too horrifying to imagine, and the people who write advocating this practice are indeed amoral and soulless. I am almost sorry for Mr. Savulescu, that he does not see this. Almost.

  26. No, Dr. Savulescu. You missed the point. The point is, we still believe murder is illegal and immoral. This has nothing to do with abortion…and everything about extinguishing a life, as defined by EVERYONE.

  27. Declaration of Geneva – 2006
    October 2006Adopted by the 2nd General Assembly of the World Medical Association, Geneva, Switzerland, September 1948and amended by the 22nd World Medical Assembly, Sydney, Australia, August 1968and the 35th World Medical Assembly, Venice, Italy, October 1983and the 46th WMA General Assembly, Stockholm, Sweden, September 1994and editorially revised at the 170th Council Session, Divonne-les-Bains, France, May 2005 and the 173rd Council Session, Divonne-les-Bains, France, May 2006At the time of being admitted as a member of the medical profession:I solemnly pledge to consecrate my life to the service of humanity;I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude that is their due;I will practise my profession with conscience and dignity;The health of my patient will be my first consideration;I will respect the secrets that are confided in me, even after the patient has died;I will maintain, by all the means in my power, the honour and the noble traditions of the medical profession;My colleagues will be my sisters and brothers;I will not permit considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient;I WILL MAINTAIN THE UTMOST RESPECT FOR HUMAN LIFE;I will not use my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat;I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honour.

    Link cited: http://ama.com.au/node/2474(al… caps added to pertinent part of oath for emphasis).Maybe know your own rules before you author and publish these sorts of articles? Since your journal has to do with MEDICAL ethics? The argument as to whether or not a newborn is a “person” is irrelevant, making the entire article irrelevant. Newborns are “human life.” Therefore, have utmost respect for it. There you go.

  28. To defend a person's right to discuss a thought is one thing, to actually defend infanticide as a liberal value… it is simply intolerable. Some topics were verboten simply because they are so heinous that to bring them up would demonstrate a perversion of moral judgement. This is one of them. That your editorial filter has allowed this to be openly discussed in some form of “high mindedness” that you (and undoubtedly the authors) have traveled so far from a grounded sensibility about human value that it is no longer recognizable as rational or moral. Your judgement is in question, and it should be.

    Your authors are as disturbed as those of any of those posts you listed, and you need to make sure you're not that far behind.

  29. What the response to this article reveals, through the microscope of the web, is that people make what some might find to be compelling arguments against your continued existence.  I mean, I'm just spit-balling here, but, man, putting all the egg-heads up against the wall in some kind of Cultural Revolution might be just the ticket for getting the 'Modern World' back on track.  Of course, I'm not advocating this, but in a Liberal Society, in the market place of ideas, I feel that the Ethical Parameters of a violent pogrom against psuedo intellectual ding-bats deserve to be explored.  Publicly. And with verve.  And if we don't discuss these things openly, and with intellectual rigor, then we're no better than savages, or people who didn't even go to college.  Empiricism and the Scientific method.  What if you just don't measure up?

  30. So… 'infanticide' is fine for you, but harsh language is simply beyond the pale?  It should give you pause that you recoil not from the frank advocates of the murder of children, but from the reasonably heated reaction that results.  Seriously, all kinds of internal warning bells should be going of for you 'Medical Ethics' folks, but apparently are not.

  31.  I'm surprised that you thought that this paper was of sufficient academic quality. to be published.

    The same logic used to try and justify “after-birth abortion” can be used to justify the murder of anyone.

    The authors write:  ” . . . although it is hard to exactly determine when a subject starts or ceases to be a 'person', a necessary condition for a subject to have a right to X is that she is harmed by a decision to deprive her of X.”

    Any human being who is murdered, say, unwittingly while they are asleep, cannot be said to be harmed by the deprivation of something (specifiically life in this instance) as they are now dead and no longer exist (at least from a materialist point of view).

    So if that is all that makes murder unacceptable that would indicate that we are all fair game.

  32. Murdering infants is evil. How can you not understand that? I certainly would not consider people who advocate such barbaric behavior to be “ethical: in any way.

  33. Anyone out there see the movie The 300?   Were you sickened by the scene where they talk about sorting babies, and killing the un acceptable ones, followed by a shot of a chasm full of baby skulls?    These two “academics” are basically suggesting that this practice was OK.     It was not OK then and to suggest such a thing is OK and then try to hide behind academia gives their universities, this publication, and academia as a whole a bad rap.     Defending them gives you an even worse one.      My favorite point was that sometimes adoption is not the best answer.    So it's better and more “scholarly” to murder a newborn, than to give them over to one of the hundreds of thousands of couples who willingly love, sacrifice, and care for them.     These two “professors” are quacks plain and simple.  

  34. “The paper also draws attention to the fact that infanticide is
    practised in the Netherlands.” So if the Netherlands is doing it, it
    MUST be ok. Hey, China is throwing its baby girls in the streets for
    dogs to maul to death, I guess THAT must be ok, too?

    …”the goal of the Journal of Medical Ethics is not to present the
    Truth or promote some one moral view. It is to present well reasoned
    argument based on widely accepted premises.” I don’t know whose widely
    accepted premises that an infant doesn't deserve life they are working on…

    “The authors provocatively argue that there is no moral difference
    between a fetus and a newborn. Their capacities are relevantly similar.
    If abortion is permissible, infanticide should be permissible. ” Um,
    are these the same people who fight for the end of the death penalty for
    cop killers???  explain how one fights for the life of a convicted killer, but not for the most innocent among us?

  35. “… Not that people would give arguments in favour of infanticide, but the deep opposition that exists now to liberal values and fanatical opposition to any kind of reasoned engagement.”

    I was, until now, unaware that infanticide was a liberal value.

  36. Julian:  Find a mirror.  Take a deep breath.  Look into it.  Really look at what you are.  There is hope for any human being with the capacity for reason.  Understand that you, and everyone around you, are capable of good and evil.  You have been lead astray.  All human life has validity. 

    Morality is not relative.  Killing is wrong.  

    To “rationality” support the murder of a baby is to turn your back on every single demonstrable quality of human ethics.  It is the undoing of all we as a species have accomplished.  It is the path of madness. 

    I hope you see someone in that mirror who can still tell right from wrong.  I hope you can use your intellect to help us all move in the direction of life.  I hope you might find better application of your talents than promoting the murder of innocence itself.

    Good luck.

  37. I think everyone needs to watch Eric Metaxas Nation Prayer Breakfast Speech from 2012. Mataxas compares the current opinion on abortion to opinion on slavery in the 1700's and the treatment of German Jews in the 30's and 40's. Metaxas also advocated that we who do no agree should not advocate ill will or harm for those on the other side. Instead I will pray for the authors and publisher that they may have a change of heart and understand life should be cherished.

    I did find the comment below interesting and hope that just maybe the absurdity of the article was to make a point.
    The National Catholic Register thinks that these authors are right
    — once you accept their ideas on person hood. The Register states that
    the argument made by the ethicist is almost pro-life in that it
    “highlights the absurdity of the pro-abortion argument”:

  38. I find the authors' arguments to be quite compelling.

    I am a physician who is triple boarded in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine and Critical Care Medicine.  I have scored near the one hundredth percentile in all board exams, and have had a successful private practice and academic practice for well over thirty years.  I believe that I have contributed greatly to society.  Further, I am advised that I am exceptionally charismatic and good looking.

    I believe that the authors and editor quite likely do not rise to the level of my definition of personhood.
    Further, I suspect that they constitute not only a burden on society, but an actual threat to society.
    In addition, I suspect of them a certain unjustifiable academic conceit.
    I therefore give them my imperial thumbs down.
    I’m sure they would accept that judgement with great magnanimity, since it appears to be totally in keeping with their philosophy.

  39. Mr. Boyd: Your attempt to sound “even-handed” is laudable, even though it is not convincing. The problem with your statement is that it suggests a sense of moral equivalency between those who advocate the murder of innocent newborn infants and those who are horrified by the mere idea–as long as each side presents its arguments in a “robust academic” manner.  I hate to sound so anti-intellectual, but there is absolutely nothing inherently noteworthy about the advocation of policies that Pol Pot or Stalin would find practical on a daily basis. The presentation of some ideas produce harsh responses, because those ideas DESERVE harsh responses.

  40.      I possess a Phd., but I am not defined by it.  I thought I was a liberal until I read this article.
         Did someone hack your facebook account?  Watch your language at the dinner table and be sure to use the correct fork as you enjoy this delicacy.  Please no vulgar language.  We are academics, after all.  I guess you can't make a silk purse out of a pig's ear.Could you keep your composure if someone dissected your “worthiness to breath” with such callousness?      Are you really that cerebral and detached?  You have so much invested in your professionalism.  I feel sorry for all of you on your death beds.  What a shallow, egotistical pursuit.  

  41. The response by the editors is disappointing in its indignation. The original article was poorly reasoned and amateurishly written. Surely the authors and the editors, if they were paying attention, would realize that the “contribution” of this article is nothing more than to assert that moral status is dependent on the definition of the word “person.” That is it. And it fails to even explain why this is necessary.

    The authors dogmatically state “A serious philosophical problem arises when the same conditions that would have justified abortion become known after birth.” Actually it does not. There is no problem at all if one accords significance to the head of a newborn clearing the birth canal or the initiation of spontaneous breathing, both of which are accepted in modern ethics, morals, social conventions and jurisprudence. They cannot claim that defining a right to life by the act of being born or breathing is arbitrary, since they then proceed to suggest a no less arbitrary criteria, albeit one that makes less sense. The authors try to argue for a criterion in which only beings that have “aims,” or more specifically only those that are in a condition to have values, are worthy of consideration.

     They do not provide their deep thoughts explaining why having “aims” is necessary to a right to life. They admit that babies experience pleasure and pain, but do not seem to allow for the possibility that a baby's instinctive behaviors to seek comfort are “aims.” The authors say that fetuses and newborns have a right not to have pain inflicted upon them, but do not say why. Leaving aside the suggestion that avoiding pain is an “aim,” there is no obvious basis for recognizing any rights in a fetus or newborn according to the main argument of the authors. There is no rational argument as to why any rights should not depend on their criterion of “aims,” nor the necessary analysis of why the right to life would be different. They do not address the question of whether a “person” under anesthesia, and thus unaware of his aims, loses personhood, or whether the same applies to a demented patient, or schizophrenic during a psychotic break. The authors have already told us that “potential” cannot be used to evaluate these cases, so the potential that the patient will awaken from surgery  or the psychotic will endure his crisis do not count. To be consistent, a person who is killled in his sleep cannot be deprived of his right to life, since he could never be in “a condition” to appreciate the deprivation.

    Where the authors and editors become the objects of ridicule however, is neatly contained in the sentence “The alleged right of individuals (such as fetuses and newborns) to develop their potentiality, which someone defends, is over-ridden by the interests of actual people (parents, family, society) to pursue their own well-being…” In other words, rights are relative. Rights are over-ridden by the interests of others to pursue their own well being. Thus if it is in the interest of someone with grandiose aims to deprive the authors or editors of some interest, say by calling them names, this may be a violation of rights, but an excusable one according to the defective morality being advocated, since the well being of the perpetrator is at stake. There are no rights save those in a position to protect their own well-being.

    One begins to suspect that the editors were the butt of a practical joke. The authors simply define newborn babies as not having moral status, because of the arbitrary criterion of not having “aims” at the time they are killed. It really makes no difference if they are considered “persons” or not, since as the authors helpfully allude, capital punishment applies to “persons.” The eugenecists of the first half of the twentieth century felt no compulsion to respect the concept of “person.” They cut to the chase: “life unworthy of life,” which the authors rewarm in a half-hearted attempt at “scholarship.” Their contribution is not new, and the editors embarrass themselves by asserting that it is.

    The editors may have their tender sensitivities wounded by the backlash of people who refuse to accommodate the sterile and shallow pretenses of academic detachment. They are fools to think that enough time has elapsed from Babi Yar, or the T4 program or Unit 731, that pseudo-scholarly sociopathy will not provoke both reasoned and unreasoned responses.

  42. Let us take a moment to investigate the ironic contradictions in this “defense” that undermine the very assertions it puts forth. Early on, Mr. Savulescu writes: 
    “The arguments presented, in fact, are largely not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world, including Peter Singer, Michael Tooley and John Harris in defence of infanticide, which the authors call after-birth abortion.”
    What is published, by the editor's own admission is not new or novel. However, rebuttals of the argument put forth by Giubilini and Minerva are required to be written:

    “…coherently, originally and with application to issues of public or medical concern.” 

    So, then, I am curious why the article in question was published if its arguments are “not new,” and indeed have been “presented repeatedly?” 

    It would seem that Savulescu answers this question through the assertion that:

    “The novel contribution of this paper is not an argument in favour of infanticide – the paper repeats the arguments made famous by Tooley and Singer – but rather their application in consideration of maternal and family interests. The paper also draws attention to the fact that infanticide is practised in the Netherlands.”

    However, this merely shows the limits of Mr. Savulescu's reading. I would entreat him (along with the illustrious peers who reviewed this “original” piece) to read Dr. Jonathan Swift's “A Modest Proposal” (pub. 1729, full text available here: http://bit.ly/9iEUj). In so doing, they will find (much to their chagrin, I am sure) that Dr. Swift has preempted them most completely, surpassed them in depth, soundness, thoroughness of argument and logic, and indeed has even gone one step beyond Giubilini and Minerva by proposing a constructive use for the “after-birth aborted,” rather than merely making fuel for the incinerator or fill for the trash dump. 

    Iin light of the previous work published by Dr. Swift, all claims to novelty for this article are now bankrupt. This makes clear a rather frightful double-standard with which the editors of The Journal of Medical Ethics evaluate submitted articles. 

    A similar contradiction is revealed at the end of the post when Mr. Savulescu explains: 

    “The Journal does not specifically support substantive moral views, ideologies, theories, dogmas or moral outlooks, over others. It supports sound rational argument. Moreover, it supports freedom of ethical expression.” 

    and then concludes the post writing:

    “What the response to this article reveals, through the microscope of the web, is the deep disorder of the modern world. Not that people would give arguments in favour of infanticide, but the deep opposition that exists now to liberal values and fanatical opposition to any kind of reasoned engagement.”

    So, The Journal does indeed “specifically support” certain “moral views, ideologies, theories, dogmas or moral outlooks, over others,” namely a particular iteration of “liberal values” which lays claim to the ability to determine what is an acceptable mode of discourse and what is not, and what qualifies as “reasoned engagement,” and which seems (by implication) to value “freedom of ethical expression” over the rights of “potential persons.” (This, I suppose, might also explain The Journal's peculiar understanding of novelty.) The ironic contradictions of this defense, and the overly simplistic (not to mention rehashed) logic of the original article belie Mr. Savulescu's claims to objectivity, let alone his logical and scholarly abilities of discernment.

    I will refrain (at least, for the present) from dealing with other aspects of this “defense” or the logic of the original article itself, let alone Mr. Savulescu's (intentional?) failure to acknowledge the article's consideration of social interests, which could lead (justifiably) down some very dark paths indeed. 

    In closing, I could say that this whole ordeal (which would be rather laughable, were its implications not so insidious) reads more like a bad high school newspaper than a peer-reviewed journal. But that would be unfair to the editors of Memorial's Genesis student magazine, 1999-2003.

  43. I believe that most of us know the difference between right and wrong. Even though their case might be argued logically, what makes us civilised is gut feeling telling us what is a good thing to do and what is a bad thing to do. I don't believe for a moment that the authors could physically terminate the life of a newborn baby. I also don't believe that they would want to go down in history as baby killers.

  44. I wondered aloud when I first heard of this article whether it was with a straight face….

    The logic is unassailable….a foetus just before birth is morally only very slightly different than a baby just after birth, so killing the baby-to-be is only very slightly morally different that killing the baby that is.

    However, each of us that are reading this argument has traversed, gradual degree by gradual degree, day by day, event by event, along some trajectory that started with a cell or three of no particular moral consequence but now finds each of us in a position where there is no question about the moral wrongness of someone terminating our lives prematurely.

    The inescapable conclusion is that there can be no single, well-defined point at which the decision to end a potential or developing life changes from one which is clearly not wrong to one which is clearly wrong.

    Just as clearly, such fuzziness is a very difficult thing to deal with, and there are advantages to relatively simple rules — for example, it is relatively easy to decide if a punishable transgression has occurred, and someone not wanting to be pregnant has a rule that can be followed correctly, without worrying about failure.  [As an example of just how far along such fuzziness can go, tradition has it that in Russia a baby was not named until it had survived a year — which was not at all certain in those days, even though the baby had been born].

    I, personally, think there is value in the simplification that places a bright line at the point of a reasonably natural birth and says:  After this point, it is wrong to deliberately kill absent a very strong reason.

  45. It is both disturbing and regrettable that the “choice”
    being proposed in this article has chilling similarities to the Nazi process of

    Do these authors even know where the concept they use
    “lives…not worth living” came from?

    Do these authors know that they are following in the
    footsteps of two once distinguished but now infamous German academics: the
    jurist Karl Binding of the University of Leipzig, and Alfred Hoche, Professor
    of Psychiatry at the University of Freiburg?

    Way back in 1920, Hoche and Binding argued that “…the
    principle of ‘allowable killing’ should be extended to the incurably sick… The
    right to live must be earned and justified…Theirs is not a life worth living;
    hence their destruction is not only tolerable but humane.”   The crucial work — “The Permission to
    Destroy Life Unworthy of Life” (Die Freigabe der Vernichtung lebensunwerten
    Lebens) included as “unworthy life” not only the incurably ill but large
    segments of the mentally ill, the feebleminded, and “retarded and deformed”
    children. More than that, the authors professionalized and medicalized the
    entire concept. And they stressed the therapeutic goal [i.e. the intention] of
    that concept: destroying life unworthy of life is “purely a healing treatment”
    and a “healing work.” (Robert Jay Lifton:”The Nazi doctors: medical
    killing and the psychology of genocide”p.46 (1986)

    The Nazi directors of the German abortion and euthanasia
    programmes embraced the concept of ‘life unworthy of life’ (See the policy
    speech by Gerhard Wagner (head of the Nazi physicians association): “Rasse und
    Bevölkerungspolitik,” Der Parteitag der Ehre, vom 8, bis 14, September 1936.
    Offizieller Bericht über den Verlauf des Reichsparteitages mit sämtlichen
    Kongreßreden, Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP., 1936, pp.150-60).

    The authors of this current article appear to be ignorant
    also of the fact that the term “after-birth abortions” is not
    original either: it was already in use by Hitler's physicians:

    “Making widespread use of the Darwinian term ‘selection’,
    the Nazis sought to take over the functions of nature (natural selection)… in
    orchestrating their own ‘selections’, their own version of human evolution…Newborn
    infants with Down syndrome were identified at birth and placed on a register for
    lethal medical treatment after a perfunctory examination by a board of
    ‘specialist’ doctors: the Reich Committee for the Scientific Registering of
    Serious Hereditary and Congenital Illnesses (Reichsausschuss zur
    wissenschaftlichen Erfassung erb- und anlagebedingter schwerer Leiden), headed
    by Karl Brandt, Hitler’s  personal
    physician.   On August 18, 1939, the
    committee issued a decree that required reporting of all newborns and infants
    under the age of three with suspected “serious hereditary diseases.”  These “diseases” included Down’s syndrome,
    deformities, paralysis, deafness, blindness, and others. While physicians had
    been unofficially killing babies “unfit to live” since at least 1933, the
    creation of this committee officially authorized such killings.  Dr. Karl Brandt explained the aim: “The
    objective was to obtain possession of these abortions and destroy them as soon
    as possible after they had been brought into the world.”  (Henry Friedlander: The Origins of Nazi
    Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution (Chapel Hill: University of
    North Carolina Press, 1995, PP.57-8)

    “A questionnaire was prepared in which the attending
    physician provided a detailed history. The doctors also made predictions about
    the baby’s future quality of life. The questionnaires were then sent to a
    committee of physicians who determined whether to give the child a mark of “+”,
    which recommended extermination.” 
    (Forgotten Crimes: The Holocaust and people with Disabilities.  A Report by Disability Rights Advocates, California,
    2001 pp. 13-14.) 

    Perhaps the only excuse for the atrocities being proposed by
    these authors today is that they are either too callow or too ignorant of the
    Nazi precedents to what they are advocating to resurrect in this current
    Journal article.

    We should not go down that path again.  

  46. The authors argue that the value of humans is contingent. They speak of,
    “children with severe abnormalities whose lives can be expected to be not worth
    living.”  Their ethic aligns them to “life
    unworthy of life” of 1940’s Germany.
    People with conditions like Downs Syndrome can be done away with as a matter of
    convenience in their ethical construct. I have a brother with Downs Syndrome
    and he is happy and harmless to others; he is not less human and less valuable regardless
    of what these authors believe.  I hope
    that people who believe human life has no transcendent value never have the power
    to turn their ideas into a modern T4 project.

  47. Dear editor:  

    You are worried about the “deep disorder” of the modern world? Trust me  – you're in it up to your eyeballs and by publishing these articles you're promoting more of the same. What is revealed so clearly is that if people reject God, they end up abolishing the inherent dignity of humanity. Now it becomes possible to “present arguments” about why we should kill babies. Yes, there is a deep disorder here but it is one that you and your ilk have deliberately nurtured for about half a century now. You have a lot to answer for. And you most certainly will. 

  48. Can an argument, such as the one you published, ever truly be considered “well reasoned?” Can the utterly unreasonable ever be reasonable? It seems you are trying to make it so.

  49. Only a bloodless liberal can, with a straight face, express moral outrage at people exceeding the limits of verbal rationality in a heatedly passionate debate, while defending their cold, passionless rationality that it is moral to kill a newborn baby.



  50. Just what code of ethics do the authors of this piece and your publication subscribe to? This is not an “intellectual” or “philosophical” proposition – merely the advocacy of murder. Whatever prestige you think you had as a serious intellectual publication has been aborted.

  51. The comments include openly racist remarks:

    This comment reveals much.

    First, religion is not race. Your confounding of two categories is troubling.

    Secondly, you're one to talk. How perverted must your moral universe be where you're willing to stake out a defense of the right to promote infanticide but you're publicly chastising comments that you mistakenly perceive to be racist?

    Clearly you own moral hierarchy has been completely divorced from the majority held by humanity. Racism, even when falsely categorized, is now a worse affront than the purposeful murder of new born babies.

  52. I applaud the authors of the paper and the journal for publishing it.

    This is an important issue, ultimately the question of whether the government can interfere in private medical decisions. If my wife and I have a deformed fetus, your emotional sensibilities or religion have no bearing on the decision to have it aborted. You can not force us (through the law) to carry it to term, take care of it, etc. Neither should we be able to force society to pay for it through government-funded adoption.

    Ironically, the presidential candidate most in favor of decreasing government interference in people's private lives is opposed to abortion. Nevertheless, I will cast my vote for Dr. Ron Paul because his overall libertarian philosophy is sound, and he supports individual rights more so than any alternative.

  53. I feel to be liberal. And  also I am a bioethicist, a boarded MD and a human being. I know it is typical of some academic people to write “big issues” to get some attention. But I am convinced that a (once,at this point ) good and important Journal cannot accept this topic. We need to take care of our world , we need to implement the idea that perfection is a social value,not an ethical value. And , for what I can do, I will go on teaching my students that a good medicine is a medicine ready to take care of everybody,even an “imperfect” baby. I must add that I am ashamed to see doctors still bearing the same values of nazi era, why don’t you publish again the Nuremberg Code ?

  54. I just can’t believe a paper this offensive towards the entire medical profession was published on the BMJ, and that one can claim to be on the right side because of the reactions which are just as wrong as the paper is. I am really trying to collect myself, for showing some politeness.
    Beside the fact that some people actually spent their time writing this article, that someone else found it respectful, ethic and worth of publishing, what is really disturbing is that someone still defends it as “liberal values”. Come on, that’s the best you can get?! 
    This brings BMJ into disrepute.

  55. At what point is someone an ‘Actual Person’ and what are they before this? An acedemic perhaps?

  56. Robby, it has been pointed out in previous comments but I think it is important to be very clear that Julian Savulescu is *not* claiming that infanticide is a liberal value but something like academic freedom/ free speech. Arguing rationally (whether we agree with the argument or not) cannot be antithetical to reasoned engagement when they are the same thing.

  57. I think  this is absolutely sick. Newborn BABY is no Baby? Is not human? How on the earth did they come to that conclusion. I don’t know.
    And aborting it? Because the parent can maybe not look after it? Well, what about parents/adults that are not able to have children self by nature, why not give them a chance to look after them? To care for them, love them?
    Where is this society going?

  58. By your own admission, interestingly enough, “The arguments presented, in fact, are largely not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world, including Peter Singer, Michael Tooley and John Harris in defence of infanticide, which the authors call after-birth abortion,” you are acknowledging that that this is condoned murder/homicide of an infant.   Following that logic, then, there should be murder indictments that should ensue following each abortion. 

  59. Where the “Journal of Medical Ethics” has failed in publishing this article – even more so without a robust opposition paper – is that they have abandoned the most important word in their title – ETHICS. 

    The behavior advocated in the article in question is clearly unethical by all but the most inhumane standards.  That members of society as a whole would draw comparisons between the authors and the perpetrators of historic genocide is not only understandable, but society's failure to do so would be as horrific as the paper's recommendations are.

    But that's fine.  Dr. Joseph Mengele would be proud of the JME for its strict application of “logic” to the publication process.

  60.  Thank you for your well-reasoned and researched response.  The best I could come up with was “Mengele would be proud.”

    You've clearly outperformed my effort – and I'm glad to have read yours.

  61. So, according to Ms Savulescu, it is perfectly ok to argue for infanticide in a polite and nice manner, but to express disgust (and respect for life) in an angry manner is fanatical and in opposition to liberal values?
    Not too long ago there was country in Europe which argued, very politely and rationally, that certain ethnic groups should be wiped out.  Was it perhaps wrong to argue against these people in an angry manner?

  62.  here is another thought.  What if my dog delivers her puppies and I decided to kill them all shortly there after.  I cannot afford them and it would cause a hardship for my family.  Would that be justified and legal or would I be arrested, convicted, and serve time.  Many people have done time for less cruelty to animals than I described.  That would suggest that dogs are more valuable than humans.  I think that is quite interesting when you step back and look a little further and see a bigger picture. 

    What about partial birth abortion on the dogs or cats.  Can I take my dog into the vet and tell them I cannot afford to keep them all and I would like them aborted.  Do vets do that.  Hmm I don’t think so. 

    Wild animals will fight to the death to protect their offspring.

  63. I am stunned, simply stunned by the ‘scientific’ article “After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?” It is one indefensible piece of ‘social engineering’ tripe linked to another. While denying the emotional and physical impact of abortion or ‘after-birth’ abortion on the mother – it relates how devastating pregnancy, child care and giving up a child for adoption can be. Where is the science in that – isn’t science about the STUDY of all aspects of the given situation/theory? What will be the ‘criteria’ and ‘who’ gets to decide? The slippery slope these two evil  people are putting forth (for the sake of convenience no less) is wrong. And to use the word moral in the discussion – whose morals, are we talking about – we all have morals – are yours the same as mine?  And how god-like of these people to imply that another person without the ability to ‘communicate’ such as them – is less ‘moral’ than them. Wasn’t/isn’t that one of the criteria used to promote/defend slavery?  Life, death, disease and ‘handicap’s’ are much like faith and God to humans. A (or the grand) mystery and it is through striving to learn and gain knowledge of all of them -that we increase our humanity, intelligence and compassion. It is through such closed minded thinking as putting all humans into a simple cost, value, worth and quality of life box that makes us less humane, less compassionate, less intelligent and most certainly less worthy of being called a Child of God. By the way, I would not ever want these two people to sit on judgment as to whether my life is of ‘value’. My mother chose adoption, I was born with serious medical issues (cardiac, lung and kidney) and was given the prognosis of death and certainly never to have a child. 57 years later, I am here, having given birth to 5 children and having outlived my parents (adoptive) and two of my siblings. My brother (also adopted) was ‘diagnosed’ as being deaf and retarded. Within months of being placed in our home, he was a normal 2 year old child. To deny our lives, our children’s lives and our grandchildren’s lives on the basis of misguided, wrong and medically inept decisions is just as morally wrong as these two people using cost and hardship to justify the murder of a fetus, infant, baby and/or child. Convenience as a reason for murder, that is one slippery slope that these two people should think very, very carefully about, as it may come back to hurt them – if and when they are no longer deemed to be ‘productive’. Isn’t this the same kind of rationalization/thinking that gave us Hitler in the 1930s? Isn’t this the same kind of thinking that would have killed Beethoven or Helen Keller? And isn’t this the same kind of thinking that would have deprived the world of Albert Einstein (deemed by one teacher as being unable to learn)? Very, very misguided and dangerous assumptions to make as to the ‘value’ of one live by mere in

    fallible humans.

  64.  So essentially you published an article that encourages infanticide. Your response (more of a pathetic whine)? 
    “Stop ganging up on me! Be rational, would you?”
     and, hilariously,
    “Yeah, well, we wouldn't mind killing babies, but some of our detractors are racist!”
     I would just like to make this clear- you encouraged infanticide as a live option. I don't have to come up with a good argument against that. Stalin, Hitler or Pol Pot do not strike me as presenting ethical conundrums. 
     I can only hope that some sort of legal action will be taken against the authors of this piece, and against the magazine that published it. Unfortunately, that's probably not going to happen. But at least we can help show this moral squalor to people everywhere, and in doing so destroy your moral credibility so that your damnable magazine can be shut down.
     The sad thing is that you aren't going to court over this. The worst thing that will happen is you lose some subscribers, when heaven cries out for, at  the very least, a nice long prison sentence for all involved.
     The wonders of the modern world.

  65. This is what passes for “liberal values” and “reasoned engagement” now?
    The argument for infanticide has always lacked intellectual, moral and ethical heft and its reiteration by these two clowns does nothing to change that. And what, pray tell, are the “widely accepted premises” on which their argument is based? That the fetus and newborn are morally equivalent because both are only “potential persons” and not “actual persons” and thus have no moral right to life? That “personhood” is attained only through some arbitrary measure of mental development? Are these the “widely accepted premises” of which you speak??
    And, please, the likes of Singer and Tooley are only “most eminent” to the likes of pointy-heads like you. The rest of us “persons” think they're quite frankly nuts.    

  66. Strina, you have misunderstood the argumentative structure here – Julian isn't asserting that if the Netherlands do it it must be okay, he is noting that the article also brings this to light, which is something most of us are unaware of.

  67. Ted, you have misunderstood the claim – the claim Julian is making is not that liberal values support infanticide (although some no doubt do) instead he is suggesting that if we want an open and free society then we will support open and reasoned debate, rather than abuse, threats and name calling.

  68. I think what this article and people’s response to it reveals is that people are getting very, very tired of the objectionable sophistry which passes for scholarship these days.

    Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva are happy to see live, viable, healthy babies killed, and you’re happy to see them published in your journal. On the other hand I’m reasonably certain Giubilini and Minerva are appalled at the idea of common citizens owning and carrying firearms, and I’m quite sure you’d never publish a paper which offered evidence that firearms might be a social good. I can be quite sure, because despite the evidence available a pro-gun paper has never appeared in your journal. Nor any other major medical journal I am aware of.

    Insofar as the medical ethics establishment is concerned, it seems that infanticide is a-ok but self defense is not. Which I frankly find completely insane.

    So perhaps the reaction to your publishing this “work” is more reasonable and to be expected than you’d like to admit. Perhaps you and your editorial bord should think about that a little bit.

  69. 2011. Strong's objections to the future of value account Don Marquis
    J Med Ethics 2011;37:384-388 Published Online First: 18 February 2011 doi:10.1136/jme.2010.038703

  70. As if slitting an infants throat is a serious topic for academic debate. But you’re absolutely right. It is the moral equivalent of abortion. 

  71. There are some sad and bitter ironies here. Most plainly that those invoking Facism in the critique of the publication of this paper tend to then either threaten violence or call strongly for censorship, you know, like those Facist folk did…

    Let me make this clear, in this post Professor Savulescu is not defending infanticide, he is defending the right of people in a free press to write about it. He isn't endorsing the argument (beyond it's technical review) but instead that these are questions we should debate, and hopefully robustly.

    Unfortunately pouring abuse onto the authors and the journal involved doesn't help to advance the debate, instead reasoned argument is needed.

    Given the nature of the conclusion, one would think it wouldn't be too hard to find – for example, we could (as Julian suggests in his post) turn the argument into a reductio ad absurdium and use it to argue for the opposite conclusion – if we must equate the moral status of infants and foetuses then let us grant both the right to life. Or alternatively we could argue that there is a descrete point, missed by the authors that provides a difference in moral status and so on.

  72. Julian Savulescu If I ruled the world people like you would be hung on the street for everyone to see. Fing despicable damn I hate all libs I wont even spell that word.  I have a great idea lets put all u libs on an island and blow that bch up. Death to communism and socialism it stops here and now you vipers go back to hell where u came from. And one more thing I love how beautiful my daughters were when they were born I loved it I guess people who kill babes would never now. The Grimm Reaper is at your door knock knock I got a sicle for ur ass libs.

  73. OK Julian, let’s see if I got this straight:

    Advocating the murder of children = not “disturbing”. 

    Objecting to the murder of children = “disturbing”. 

    What’s really disturbing to me is that there are actually mentally ill people like you, Julian, in academia. What’s disturbing to me, Julian, is that a mentally ill sociopath like you actually has the chutzpah to operate a rag called “THe Journal of Medical Ethics”. 

    I think the lesson here for reader is: Whenever you see a “bioethicist” near your children, reach for your gun. 

  74. “What is disturbing is not the arguments in this paper nor its publication in an ethics journal.”

    Your wrong… as disturbing as the reaction may be for you and your journal. The arguments in this paper are more disturbing. In fact they are grotesque in the extreme. But they are consistent with the pro-abort thought that allows for the mental gymnastics of reserving personhood for those large enough to kill the smaller humans.

    Why stop stop at new born children? Why not argue for the killing of a teenaged child that develops some inconvenient illness that requires attention? We just won't call them persons until they can vote.

    You disgust me.

  75.  What is you have a disabled child of age 5 you loose your job and cannot afford the medical bills should you be allowed to kill them? Just curious where your logic ends?

  76. Savulescu is correct, our society gets overly hysterical and can't handle intellectual discussion on moral ethics. I long for a society where you could freely and calmly discuss genocide. Like, say, Germany 1933. 

  77. You say the arguments presented “are not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists”.  Here we are 60+ years after WWII ended.  It appears to me all the guys who died at Normandy and the rest of Europe defeating Hitler, his doctors of death, and Nazism died in vain.  Killing babies after they are born?  And reasoned out because they aren’t yet “contributing to their own existence”??  Neither does a 2 yr old, or 4 year old,  and so on.  Where does it stop?  This sounds alarmingly like Nazism.   

  78.  Savulescu writes:
    “What is disturbing is not the arguments in this paper [i.e. arguments for infanticide]”
    “academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society”
    “What the response to this article reveals.. is the deep disorder of the modern world. Not that people would
    give arguments in favour of infanticide, but the deep opposition that
    exists now to liberal values”

    Hmmm, so, according to Savulescu:
    i) infanticide is not disturbing
    ii) people who argue strongly against infanticide are opposed to liberal values
    iii) the disorder in the world is that people argue strongly against infanticide and thus against liberal values

    Very likely Savulescu knows not what he writes.  I don’t expect that he actually promotes infanticide.  But that is indeed what he writes.  And he clearly associates infanticide with some very strange version of liberal values. 

    Liberal values include decency and ethical behavior.  It does not include infanticide.  It does not even include a clever defense of infanticide.  It also does not include the need, nor obligation, to publish a poorly argued case for infanticide.

    To argue for infanticide is the very antithesis of liberal values!

    Perhaps Savulescu should read up a little on liberalism and liberal values, and, as complement, some history, especially 20th century race politics?

  79. “Murder is Murder — no matter how you dress it up.” What if it's dressed up as a state execution? I suspect many of the commentators here may be in favour of that. I'm aware there's a difference between infanticide and execution obviously but since we're talking a simple life/death dichotomy…

  80. n a comment below, Dr Kenneth M Boyd said, “we needed first to make sure that the paper, like any other submitted to the Journal, was of sufficient academic quality for us to publish…” He then said he had academics review the work and they found it worthy enough to approve its publishing.
    In the paper, which I took the time to read, Giubilini and Minerva state, “…we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all circumstances where abortion would be.” They claim this because they equate children still in the womb with children outside the womb and to them neither has value.
    What this tells me is that academia finds merit in putting forth the idea of killing children. All parents should now be concerned about allowing their children to enter higher education as those same academics will teach their children that murder, because reason tells us killing is certainly equitable with murder, is ethically permissible.
    The authors also wrote this, “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’. We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.”
    What of a ‘person’ who is sleeping? No one is capable of attributing to her own existence ‘a value that may be deprived’ while asleep. According to the authors’ definition of what a ‘person’ is, one who is asleep is not a person any more as she has no cognitive abilities. By the authors own ‘logic’, and I do use that term loosely, sleeping people may be ethically killed because they have no sense of being a ‘person’.
    Any academic worth their salt should have noted that immediately and dismissed this paper.
    What I would really like to know is from where these two received their funding. Did Australian taxpayers fund them and do the Australian taxpayers know what their hard earned money is going towards?
    Or was it the United Nations that granted them money? Because everyone knows the United Nations is in the business of finding every way possible to control population growth and ensure death to anyone they find a threat to their organization as evidenced by its constant warmongering. In the United Nations’ struggle to be the world’s government body, they know that a vast population is very difficult to conquer, therefore its partnering with Planned Parenthood, its abuses to women world-wide with its sterilization programs, and its ‘blue helmet’ involvement with not only the child slave trade but the rape and murder of children, would be a logical place to acquire funding for a paper determined to justify the murder of innocents.
    I would pray for the souls of Prof Boyd, Giubilini and Minerva and all those involved in the acceptance and publishing of this paper, but I’m afraid they don’t have any.

  81. Well this proves that abortion is murder then because there is obviously no difference between an embryo, a fetus, a neonate, an infant, a toddler, a child, an adolescent, and an adult. The only difference is time and growth and development.

  82. Would the publisher and editor have dispassionately discussed freedom of expression as the Eugenics program of the Nazi's was being formed and implemented? Contrast the moral indifference exhibited here with this expression of love for the individual over the convenience of society and the collective:


  83. What is disturbing is the article and this defense of it. There is nothing well-reasoned about the piece, and there is no soundness in its premises. 

    “What the response to this article reveals, through the microscope of the web, is the deep disorder of the modern world. Not that people would give arguments in favour of infanticide, but the deep opposition that exists now to liberal values and fanatical opposition to any kind of reasoned engagement.”Infanticide is deeply antithetical to liberal values, and arguing for it is deeply antithetical to reasoned engagement. 

  84. I initially thought the journal was pure satire. Now I'm realizing that the authors actually hold that opinion. While the article is digusting, is there really that much distinction between a new-born and an unborn baby/fetus? I tend to agree with the authors, but by the totally OPPOSITE hand. Neither abortion of a fetus or a new-born should be allowed. It amazes me how disgusted people are with the idea of aborting new-borns but aborting a fetus in the 1st trimester is acceptable. God help us all.

  85. So they ARE babies and they ARE human, but they MAY NOT BE PERSONS? Oh yes, that’s much clearer. Thanks so much for that thoughtful and thought-provoking explanation. Good luck to these clowns ever getting another article published–oh wait, I was overlooking “The Onion.”

  86. ‎”Writing about moral philosophy should be a hazardous business, not just for the reasons attendant on writing about any difficult subject, or writing about anything, but for two special reasons. The first is that one is likely to reveal the limitations and inadequacies of one’s own perceptions more directly than in, at least, other parts of philosophy. The second is that one could run the risk, if one were taken seriously, of misleading people about matters of importance. While few writers have avoided the first hazard, very many have avoided the second, either by making it impossible to take them seriously, or by refusing to write about anything of importance, or both.” Bernard Williams, 1972

    In case of misreading, the first hazard is not increased in that nothing of substance has been revealed; the second hazard, however, will apply just as much as if the mistaken reading had been intended by the author.

  87. Dear Editors:

    I hold this truth to be self-evident and scientifically valid: that human life begins at conception; and that even a single-celled human being has its own unique DNA at that time. In an interview with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, National Organization for Women former President Patricia Ireland said “I think that immediately upon conception, there is life. I don’t think there is any question about that.” So, all sides can certainly agree… Even our best science concludes that human life BEGINS IT'S PHYSICAL/BIOLOGICAL existence in the womb AT CONCEPTION. There is no doubt about it… “Human BEING” – I think it’s certainly reasonable that the word “person” should legally apply to ALL human beings from the beginning of their biological development. I believe that all persons equally deserve the recognition of the legal protection of the “inalienable right” to further life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What's so unreasonable about that? This is not a mere ‘belief’ based solely upon my religion: please notice that “God” is not even mentioned as the basis for this reasoning. This is simply a matter of respect, value, and dignity for innocent human life – regardless of age, race, health and function, condition of physical and/or mental dependency and/or disability, handicap, or method of reproduction. This is a scientifically-based pro-life point-of-view: If one is to respect the dignity and sanctity of all innocent human life, then it should be recognized that life exists AT conception. The laws and personal morals of any decent and good society should be designed to protect all innocent human life. The act of abortion should certainly be unaccepted – except in those instances when a mother's own innocent human life is in danger. In those rare cases, terminating a pregnancy can reasonably be considered as an act of self-defense – something already legal in most civilized societies. In other words: all innocent human beings should have a right to pursue further life, liberty, and eventual happiness so long as doing so does not intrude on the rights of anyone else including a Mother, whose health would be “in danger”. I recognize this truth: Human beings in the womb are indeed people too. This is common sense. Abortion: This single topic has continued for decades to maintain its position as the absolute most-talked about, most controversial, most passionately debated social-political issue in America. Ours is a highly-polarized society. There are those who tolerate and promote abortion-on-demand as a matter of personal “choice” and “privacy”. To the opposite, there are those who do not accept the premise of “choice” or “privacy” in the context of abortion, as their position is one of respect for innocent human life. In general, the Democrat party has become the home of those voters who believe abortion to be a “legitimate” form of birth-control, or “contraception” – a “choice”. Equally, the Republican party attracts evangelicals – and those like-minded voters – who seek to recognize and preserve the sanctity and dignity of all innocent human life. I find it odd that there are some people who would dedicate their lives for a political fight to the death in order to be sure that every teen slut can choose to murder her unwanted baby as a legal method of birth control. These same people choose to remain silent – or even worse, they even become outspoken – against the death penalty for capital criminals and against going to war against Islamofascist terrorists. For those who would try to point out my hypocrisy on the issue of War Death / Capital Punishment vs. Abortion: Here is the difference – think about it: INNOCENT human LIFE. The political-left has proven itself time and time again to be on that side which consistently promotes the cause of innocent DEATH in all cases. I believe it's tragic that innocent human life has become a political issue. As for me: I am proudly Pro-Choice Before Conception, Pro-Life After Conception. I believe that LIFE is the unique supernatural immeasurable force, essence, and power which makes all biological forms able to come into existence, feed, grow, and/or reproduce, amongst other biological activities. I believe that all LIFE comes from one Source: God. I believe that “human LIFE” is all of the above plus the presence of human DNA. I believe that mankind – with our individual senses of intelligence, self-awareness, creativity, and morality – is a special and unique creation of God, designed to reflect His characteristics. WHEREAS, Biblical Scripture clearly affirms the SANCTITY and DIGNITY of INNOCENT human life and condemns its arbitrary destruction; and WHEREAS, The Declaration of Independence proclaims that “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”; and WHEREAS, The 14th Amendment to the Constitution states: “Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law; and WHEREAS, In Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court declared it could not resolve “the difficult question of when life begins” and, on the basis of this unresolved question, arbitrarily declared a new “right to abortion” based on the “right of privacy”; and WHEREAS, Most Americans oppose abortion as a means of birth-control and want to protect innocent human life; and WHEREAS, Science is clear that human life exists immediately upon conception; I, THEREFORE, DO DECLARE that the deliberate killing of any embryonic or fetal human being, from fertilization to natural death, is both murderous and wrong. I hereby proclaim my pro-life position and move to restore full legal protection to all unborn human beings, from fertilization to natural death, using peaceful and prayerful means in the pursuit of that goal. In furtherance of this purpose, I call on:- The scientific community to further promote the truth about the biological beginnings of human life, as it first begins it's biological existence as a human “being”. – Our elected officials, at all levels of government, to support life legislation.- The abortion industry to stop the violence against helpless human beings in the womb.- Every pro-life supporter to reject violence and condemn those who commit all murderous acts.- Everyone who supports life to endorse and work for the passage of a Human Life Amendment to state and federal constitutions that would recognize basic human rights inherent to every human being from fertilization to natural death.- Christians and those who profess to follow Christ's example TO EDUCATE OTHERS BY PROCLAIMING THESE VALUES and to promote sanctity, dignity, and respect for the most innocent human beings among us. I would also call upon God to forgive those who know not what they do. -Kelly Fountain

  88.  “WHEREAS, Biblical Scripture clearly affirms the SANCTITY and DIGNITY of INNOCENT human life and condemns its arbitrary destruction”
     – Unless it's God doing the DESTROYING, then it's FINE OF COURSE. Putting it in CAPITALS makes it TRUE.

  89.  Hi Cat, thanks for your response.
    People have often remarked that we have in some instances stronger legal protections for animals than humans – take for example in the course of medical research where there is legislation directly protecting and regulating harm to animals, but not to humans (although that maybe a poor example since they are protected under the common law). Of course it is worth mentioning that we shouldn't infer from the laws to what is moral – otherwise of course it would turn out that in fact after-birth abortion was ethical, in countries where it was legal, which I doubt you would be happy with.

    Personally I'm happy to grant animals the same moral status as humans – I think there isn't a morally relevant difference, and hence we ought to protect both animals and humans from harm.

  90.  Hi Jesus and Judas
    I'm confused by this – are you arguing that those arguing against infanticide are actually participating in it via paying taxes? Interesting argument, but I suspect the indirectness of this makes a morally relevant difference.

  91. I'd like to laud the journal for publishing this article. I can't imagine that the authors are actually advocating for this and am disappointed at all the hate being spewn at them. They presented a well thought out argument in an academic journal that highlights the lack of a definition. Please save the “Baby Killers” rhetoric and instead look at the argument and figured out a way to disprove it.

  92.  Thanks Marianne for making an actual argument against the claims of the paper, nice to see some people critically thinking.

    Your argument depends on whether the authors can block the move between infant and toddler and so on. This will depend on how well they defend the claim that having a purpose is what gives things moral status.

  93. I sent a comment to you and got a pop-up telling me my comment wouldf have to be reviewed by a “moderator” before appearing here.  Is this one of those moderators from 1984??  If so, delete my comment or the Thought Police will be at my door.

  94. Nope. Definitely from 2012 – but I do have to weave moderating comments here around my other responsibilities, which is why it sometimes takes a while for them to appear.

  95.  Hi Laura
    I'm not sure why you think this paper is offensive towards the medical profession, but thank you for being polite.

    The publishers/editors didn't find it “ethical”, their job is not to moderate the content of the journal for ethical acceptability, but instead for technical soundness, sophistication of argument and so on. This for two reasons.

    1. There is a general liberal presumption that the truth will out in reasoned debate, so we ought to allow even repugnant views to be expressed.

    2. It will come as no surprise that reasonable people have different views about ethics, so it would be inappropriate for the editors to impose their particular ethical views on the journal.

    As I pointed out before and Sorcha added afterwards they are not defending the argument as appealing to liberal values – instead it is the freedom of speech, that liberals support.

  96.  Well the authors argue it is having goals and purposes of your own – which I gather is a version of the fairly standard personhood position. What do you think?

  97. I'm guessing that he means that by paying taxes, one is indirectly funding the 'War Against Terror' and by extension the deaths of civilian children in various incidences of collateral damage.
    Provocative but I have a sneaking liking for the train of though.

  98.  Tineke you have misunderstood the argument. The authors aren't claiming that babies aren't babies or humans that would be absurd. What they are arguing (mistakenly in my opinion) is that newborn babies don't have moral status ie they may not be persons.

  99. Is it April Fools Day and I missed it? The original article and this 'defense' are the sum essence of people who have no intellectual  discernment what-so-ever. I was born of a woman who did not want me, with serious medical issues (2 cardiac, a lung, and kidney conditions). The diagnosis was 'certain' death and most 'certainly' never to have a child. 57 years later – I am still alive (having out lived my adoptive parents and two siblings) and I have had 5 children. My brother (also adopted, college educated and married w/2 children) was diagnosed as deaf and retarded. Within months of being placed in our home, he was a normal 2 year old. My life, the lives of my children and grandchildren should never, ever have been left up to misguided, outdated and absolutely wrong medical diagnoses. Much like the social engineering drivel in this article and the defense here posted. My life, any life must never, ever be left in the hands of ignorant and fallible human beings. Ever.

  100.  And as you can see from comments such as Tony Eells below you can see this blog only moderates the very worst comments.

  101. I was referring to the book “1984” (which, by the way, was written in 1948).  If you've never read it do so.  And think about the fact this was written back in '48.  Its in most libraries and at Amazon.  Thankis Iain.

  102.  I'm sure that if a paper was submitted which argued for firearms as a social good (and was relevant in some way to medical ethics) then assuming it met the appropriate standards it would be published at least in the JME.

  103. I think part of the criteria for the ruling of our fair planet is the ability to string a coherent sentence together. Sorry Cletus; but it must be reassuring to have a train of thought so basic you can just point and scream 'Commie' at anything you don't like, like Donald Sutherland at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

  104. Incredible.  A “logical” argument is made for infanticide and the Editor cannot understand the blowback?  Are you so poorly informed that you don't get it?

    Hiding behind “liberalism” and open discussion is absurd.  Our society is NOT based on logic, optimization of individual interests and the interest of the State.  Western morals, values AND ethics are based on concern for the rights of others and the interests of the disadvantaged. It is not liberalism to engage in a discussion of killing children after birth, it is an amoral exploration of the limits to which the selfish interests of parents, medical “experts”, insurance expenses and the State can be accommodated.  That is an exploration of amorality (or evil, to some), not ethics.

    “Ethics”, at least in America, cannot hide from the Judeo Christian ethical and moral foundation of Western Civilization.  Any argument in support of convenience and self-interest over the rights of the innocent is, almost by definition, an unethical concept to the majority of our citizens (and thank God for that!).

    This is the main reason for the intense response from some posters – you have entered into a discussion of the limits of murder (the destruction of innocent life) for selfish personal or governmental interest.  This is far from the popular and non-academic concept of ethical behavior, and you richly deserve the contempt and hatred of others for supporting a perspective which they properly believe the Nazi's would have promulgated.  Your defense of your position makes it clear that you are ignorant of the values and ethical perspective of the United States and the Civilization in which you live.

  105. Yep happy to concede that the rest of your post is more on target, I just wanted to pull up the confusion about the claim that the editor is making since it seems to be a common confusion.

    The idea that there are some ideas that shouldn’t be discussed is an interesting one which is worth thinking about. My worry though is that if we don’t allow discussion of them then we will lose an understanding of why they are bad – our distaste will become reaction rather than reasoned. Why is this problematic? Well if we don’t know why something is wrong then we won’t be able to either identify similarly wrong but slightly different cases, nor identify seemingly similar but actually different cases.

    Finally I hope that I serve as a counter example to your final argument, since I am willing to entertain this discussion, support the right of people to discuss this, but am working on a response to the paper, arguing for its antithesis, since I think the author’s argument is a bit too quick.

  106.  I agree with one of the other commentators: the article is arguably worth publishing because it moves from widely accepted premises among its peer audience, to widely denied conclusions. But the criterion they advance for something’s harming a person is ludicrous. As long as the subject killed is not in a position to recognize the harm (and is in fact killed, which rules out any future self who might be harmed), then no harm has been done. So every murder of a sleeping person, or shot which instantly kills someone or renders them unconscious before death, has to be reclassified as not harming anyone. Huh?

    There’s also the ludicrous “after-birth abortion” term, which a journal of MEDICAL ethics should have rejected. Abortion has a medical meaning, and it is by definition not after-birth.

  107. You are correct in your statement that the arguments for infanticide “are largely not new.”  The termination of life deemed “not a person” is something that has happened throughout history.  In the 1920s America used eugenic activity to sterilize those deemed unworthy.  Additionally, the National Socialists in Germany during the 30s and early 40s were big supporters of eugenics and infanticide.  Both of these American and German programs dealt with people that someone else deemed genetically inferior or unworthy of life.

    Additionally, governments and individuals viewed those subjected to involuntary servitude as less than a whole person.  Officially slaves were deemed 3/5s a person.  When others start viewing others as “not a person” they thus take away rights which ultimately means a powerful central authority can take life at will – life deemed as “not a person.”

  108. Wow. I've been reading 'The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing And The Psychology Of Genocide' by Robert Lifton and I have to say this smacks exactly as the type of thing the NAZI's would have loved and even they did not practice as a specific enterprise. Yes, they sterilized 'inferiors' and killed women that were pregnant but they never had a program specifically targeting babies. BABIES FOLKS! BABIES! As computer scientist that works with logic all day long I can say with some expertise that this is what happens when you try to apply 'pure logic' to human events.

  109. Sorry Mr. grey but Dr. Paul doesn't support abortion and I'm pretty sure he would not support the killing of an infant.  He is not an anarchist.  He believes government should protect the individual from tyranny, violence and crimes against property.  His belief is that an infant is a human and an individual, as such others need to respect individual liberty – even a child.

  110. Let me grant – controversially – that there are bad “arguments” on the world wide web. Did you really need to highlight those arguments in defending the publication of this piece? It seems like rather a bit of a strawman. Surely there are better arguments against the publication of the article (some are in this very discussion thread). Why respond to the garbage?

    Frankly, there's a bit of hyperbole here as well: “More than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat…”

    Really? “More than ever…”? Come now, Mr. Savulescu. Surely you know history better than this. The web has transformed dissent-with-a-bullet into dissent-with-a-fallacy. At least I know a red herring made of straw will never kill me.

  111. I don't agree with many of the comments left on that article because they are based a majority of the time on the reasoning that being liberal, atheist, or of another religion as the basis for all evils in the world. However many evil things have been done in the name of God as well. I disagree with abortion and the ideas in this article based on personal belief and feelings.

  112.  The authors attempted to justify legalizing the killing of babies.  The label “baby killers” is only a stretch in that the authors didn't suggest that they would personally be doing the killing.

    Apparently, Guest, you don't like the label “baby killing” precisely because baby killing is exactly what is being discussed.

    “Baby killing” evokes a tremendous emotional response because it makes people fell vulnerable.  They is a very short distance between killing a newborn because someone deems that newborn's life unworthy of preserving and the arbitrary killing of anyone, including adults, simply because someone in authority says to do so.

    the deep opposition that exists now to liberal values and fanatical opposition to any kind of reasoned engagement.

    Arbitrarily killing people is not a “liberal” value.  Arguing for the legality of arbitrarily killing not people is not a “liberal” value.  In most contexts, “liberals” attribute the arbitrary killing of people to “fascists” or to the “right-wing”. 

    The “fanatical” opposition “to any kind of reasoned engagement” is neither “fanatical”, despite the cheery-picked comments designed to smear all opposition, or is it “to any kind of reasoned engagement”.  The opposition is intense, heartfelt and vigorous as it should be.  The authors justify the widespread commission of atrocities.  Merely cloaking an argument in politeness and the facade of academic respectability does not make an argument for evil any less evil.

    The fact that Peter Singer is identified as among the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world says everything one needs to know about the political bias and respectability of the Journal of Medical Ethics as a source.

  113. “figure out a way to disprove it”. 

    Given their assumption that “personhood” applies neither to a fetus or newborn, their analysis is not disprovable. With the $ and trouble to raise a “defective” child, there is no reason to let the “baby” live.  This is logical: Parents and taxpayers should not be burdened with such “non-persons”.  It is precisely because this utilitarian argument is valid that the article so offends.

    Disproving is only possible by rejecting the author's assumptions.  If “personhood” exists in utero, argument closed.  If “personhood” exists ex-utero, agrument closed.  But this is precisely the national argument over abortion.  If it is just an unwanted growth or piece of flesh, then the “pro-choice” side is right.

    For example, just as “ObamaCare” will necessitate medical panels to determine the “cost effective” (a code term for utility), benefit of certain medical interventions (and we all agree that taxpayer money should not be wasted), it therefore becomes necessary to establish a valuation on different “kinds” of human life.  This is what the authors of this piece have done and what the Nazi's did, to the horror of (many, but clearly not all) thinking persons.

    But life is not a subject for accountants, academics and politicians to determine, but the proper subject of individual morals and religious beliefs.  Our concepts are informed by much more than convenience and “degrees of utility”.  If people demand the right to make such “life” decisions for themselves, then they must refuse the right of others to make that decision for them or acquire the power to coerce their decisions.  It is because the authors explore these issues, and the Editor defends the analysis as a valid utilitarian argument, that the article offends intellectually, ethically, morally, emotionally and religiously.  You have got to expect that people will respond in kind.

  114. If ever a written utterance proved the sheer worthlessness of titles like “Rev” and “Emeritus Professor,” this is it. I have worked in academia for 30 years, and have seen it rapidly devolve into the last bastion of scoundrels and moral reprobates. The modern university contributes NOTHING to our civilization. One can stoop no lower than to promote or tolerate a Nazi ideology, and that is the gutter where the this journal of “ethics” now lies.

  115.  “Let me make this clear, in this post Professor Savulescu is not
    defending infanticide, he is defending the right of people in a free
    press to write about it.”

    Actually he’s defending the right of someone else to define me as a non-person because I happen to be disabled, and to argue that other people like me should be killed for convenience, and he’s doing that by demeaning and demonizing those who seek to oppose his views. And I object to that, not because of the meretricious nature of his argument, not because the views he is defending are a direct personal threat to me and my many disabled friends, but because it is the right, the ethical thing to do. And so I take a stand against Professor Savulescu’s position, just as I would take a stand if he was defending the right to de-humanise and call for the killing of members of an ethnic group. a religious group, gays, holders of a particular political viewpoint, or members of any other minority group. Last time I checked doing what was right  was what it really meant to be a liberal.

  116. I may have misstated things initially, I'll give you that. I would like to point out that the rest of what I stated does apply to the context more precisely.

    What the authors presented may be more “intellectual” in its verbiage, and fits many people's misguided ideas of liberal (free) discussion, but it's concept is every bit the moral and intellectual corruption that the worst of the responses presented. If politics has proven anything, corruption is often met with corruption from the opposite side. You can't call one more acceptable simply because it sounds better.

    I'd also argue that a person willing to entertain a discussion of
    whether or not to allow a completely reprehensible action is either a
    supporter themselves (soft or otherwise), or so open-minded that they
    may have no basis, or willingness, to argue the antithesis, which, I hope you agree, really needs to be presented.

  117. Isn’t it the very
    purpose of such an article to cause such a reaction? Can such a reaction be a surprise?
    People who write articles arguing for infanticide are not monsters. People
    engaged in infanticide are monsters. People who post flame comments on journal
    websites are trolls. Authors, Monsters and Trolls all have a place in this

  118. I would argue that Savulescu is wrong to claim the paper is original, which is the real reason that it should not have been published. Singer expressly considers maternal/family interests in “Practical Ethics — Taking Life: Human,” and he certainly was not the first utilitarian to do so.

    There's certainly nothing novel about the rest of the paper. If reminding us that infanticide is happening overseas is a reason to publish the paper, then it would seem that the journal's audience has become the uninformed layperson – how standards have fallen! Did Savulescu really write that? I'm shocked that a writer as original as he would stoop to such a shabby argument in defense of such a cursory piece. Maybe the shift from author to editor…? No, no, I must not go there.

    The paper's provocative. It sparked interest in the journal. As a serious piece, however, it's just way too short and undeveloped. I am an unpublished academic philosopher, so I have little to hang my hat on as far as denying anyone else their moment in print. However, I would confidently maintain that this is just not substantial enough to be worthy of publication. Less than three pages as an argument in favor of infanticide? No argument for their take on personhood, but instead merely a “We take 'person' to mean…” comment? “We take…”?! That's a lazy device.

    There's more: No defense of using the concept of a person to adjudicate the abortion debate? No attempt to draw a non-arbitrary line between those non-persons who are merely sleeping and those who are in PVS states or are otherwise incompetent? The inexcusable use of the undergraduate's favorite phrase “…many humans are not considered…” as a way to deflect responsibility for crafting an argument of one's own?

    The argument at the end of the “potential persons” section did interest me, however: its conclusion is to argue that while there is no obligation to preserve the life of this particular individual since it is not a person and we must therefore privilege the actual lives extant persons, there is an obligation to think about the totally non-existent lives of future generations because such people “will exist” (emphasis on “will”). So, this living thing in front of me exists, but not as a person. It can die because it's not a person. But this future person that doesn't exist can't be harmed/killed because it will exist as a person (no, wait — I think it already exists as a future person). So as long as the newborn in front of me was one of the future persons that I thought about nine months ago before getting pregnant, then it can't be harmed since it was going to exist as a person when I thought of it. Now, since this article has forced me to think about all future persons (whoever they may be), I can't justify harming/killing any of them, since I would be killing persons. Therefore people not reading this article can kill any newborn (and maybe any sleeping philosophers), but those of us who have read it are doomed to preserve the lives of all future generations — after all, they'll be persons. It makes perfect sense.

    Now, is this engagement reasoned enough to pass peer review at JME?

  119. The subject is interesting, but the paper is playing with semantics and deliberately using inflammatory language. Basically, the argument is false equivocation, shown here:

    “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’. We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.”

    They take a 'person' (subject to amoral right to life) and a 'person (an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her), and then hand-wave these two things as equivalent without justifying it as so. Never mind that either definition on its own would be debatable. No attempt is put forth that either should follow the other, or that they are the same.

    So, the whole paper is nonsense before you consider the deliberately inflammatory language (fetus rather than embryo, deliberately invoking far less common late term abortions, 'after-birth abortion,' etc). Then they suggest that it might be easier to simply kill a newborn rather than put it up for adoption, because the conclusiveness of it is easier on the mother. The whole thing has a definite 'A Modest Proposal' air to it, and I can't help but think it is deliberately so.

  120. “What is disturbing is not the arguments in this paper nor its publication in an ethics journal. It is the hostile, abusive, threatening responses that it has elicited.”  

    Wrong!  What's disturbing is that you're defending the arguments in this paper!

  121.  What this article reveals is the deep disorder of the modern world. That people would
    give arguments in favour of infanticide, under the guise of liberal values and so-called reasoned engagement. It is anti-human.

  122. To be fair, abortion itself deeply offends a great number of people the world over, often regardless of race, religion, gender or politics. It shocks me to no end to see that people are so willing to see their own view as potentially abhorrent to someone else. More to the point, the authors were equating infants to fetuses in EXTREMELY logical and widely accepted fashion. If a reader finds offense in this article, it should be with the reader’s own thoughts regarding abortion. Has Swift’s “Modest Proposal” been out of academia so long that we’ve forgotten the practical applications of satire in the media?

  123. My favorite lines:

      “What is disturbing is not the arguments in this paper nor its publication in an ethics journal. It is the hostile, abusive, threatening responses that it has elicited. More than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society. ”  

    Infanticide is not disturbing, no!  People being outraged by infanticide, that is disturbing!   Those people who are outraged by infanticide are opposed to the very values of a liberal society!  The values of a liberal society include the right to murder infants! 

    What is truly disturbing is that the author is astounded by offended responders. 

  124. I read the article and was appalled by it. It is perverse and evil. (Yes, I will use that antiquated word.) The authors of such an article have no moral grounds to criticize the murderous policies of any totalitarian regime in history. And the publishers of this article have revealed their own twisted sense of academic freedom. Academic freedom cannot include the right to call for the death of human beings that someone feels to be “useless.” The Journal of Medical Ethics has revealed that it no longer has a voice to contribute in any way to the civilized discussion of ethics.

  125. My favourite line from the Editor:

    “The novel contribution of this paper is not an argument in favour of infanticide”

    When in fact what the article says is (direct quote):

    “the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”

    So in fact, not only are the original authors and the editor dispalying anti-life views, the editor doesn't seem to be able to read the very article that he is defending – which most definately presents an argument in favour of infanticide.

    Such views threaten the very fabric of humanity and can not really be taken seriously by any heart based human being.

  126. Because Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva believe their is a moral ambiguity in whether an infant is actually a person based on the desire of the parent to have a child or illness, am I allowed then to question whether big brain academics are people when they begin proposing infanticide based on the monetary value of the infant? If so I find my money better spent on healing or housing that infant who could grow into a mailman or diner waitress just as easily as a neurosurgeon than wasting money on academia that produce genocidal serial killers with PhD's and tenure

  127. Sick bastards. Educated beyond common sense. You (not us) are luck your mothers thought more of you when you were born…or were you hatched?

  128. What the response to this article reveals is not a deep disorder of the modern world, its a justified and stern admonition to infanticide. And it proves some of us pay attention to the lessons of History. We know a morally bankrupt and sinister argument when we see one. And, we know what it can lead to when its touted by the academic elite. Welcome to the microscope of the web.       

  129. The usual crowd of practical logicians were having a few drinks at Casey's Bar.  We were discussing the  series of articles and arguments by utilitarian ethicists, from Singer to Giubilini-Minerva. One member— I believe it was Aloysius Teufelsdreck—suggested that we apply the principles of utilitarian medical ethics to utilitarian medical ethicists. That is, you.

    We concluded that you as a group are pretty much useless wastes of resources.

    1.  You consume large quantities of food, water, gasoline, electricity, wine, space, and other finite resources.

    2.  These resources are provided to you by persons who actually labor for a living–plowing land and harvesting crops, drilling for oil, laying cable, driving thousands of miles to transport resources that you consume.

    3.  You are paid by members of the producing public for what you call “scholarship.”

    4.  Yet, your scholarship has no value whatever to the public.  There is no dearth of journal articles, lectures, tenured professors, big names, ideas, proposals, rubrics, arguments, position papers, memos and other such that is the sum total of your labor. 

    Consider the total value of the loss to society if you ceased to exist.  Zero.  Of course you will disagree, but then, as with infants and others who are according to you a source of negative utility, the rest of us don't much care what you say.  It is all self-serving piffle.  We will make the determination, just as you set yourselves up to do for others.

    Imagine all departments of medical ethics being shut down.  Who would notice?  Who would care?  Would the quality of life for the rest of us be diminished?  No.  [Remember, we don't care what you have to say.  You are the object of investigation.  You have no voice.]

    I think you will have to agree that you take far more than you give.  It is only fair, it is right, it is justice, for you to end your existence as quickly as possible. And we thank you in advance for your service.

  130. What is truly stunning is that the editor is outraged about the response from people who have some compassion for babies. The cold detachment of these people is astounding. I do thank them for publishing the piece, it is good that this is out in the open. We don't want to drive them underground, we want this kind of evil to be known.

  131. So these authors believe that it is reasonable to allow an infant to die, after being brought into the world?  Do they even understand that without infants, we have no children, no adults, and the world as we know it would cease to exsist?  I mean an infant is not born able to care for him or her self.  What kind of people would think it is alright to allow any infant to die?  Would they allow that to happen to one of their own children?  How does the human race function, if we are indeed born, infants, incapable of caring for ourselves, born to parents, who are capable of caring for said infant, until they become children, then onto adulthood? 

    The reason so many people are outraged and making threatening comments, is they cannot fathom how any educated person can allow an infant to die, much less, fetuses aborted. 

  132. It is “well reasoned argument based on widely accepted premises” to argue that it may be moral to murder children.  It is “deep opposition that exists now to liberal values and fanatical opposition to any kind of reasoned engagement” to argue that it may be moral to murder medical ethicists.  Get in line, conservatives!

    No, but seriously: I see a certain degree of self-interest influencing your arguments, sir.  Like some of the anonymous commenters, I would, unquestioningly and without hesitation or compunction, murder any person if I observed them in the process of killing a child, if murder were necessary and sufficient to save that child.  My name is James Heaney.  I am a I blog at http://www.jamesjheaney.com/decivitat....

  133. What's relevant about this defense of publication is this part:

    “The authors proceed logically from premises which many people accept to a conclusion that many of those people would reject.”

    This is correct, and it does count as a reason to publish the piece. On the other hand, the journal could have required the authors either to present the case as a conditional, or to seek publication elsewhere. Doing so would indeed involve making a substantive decision on an ethical matter, but the journal is doing that anyway. It is not a “neutral” decision to publish a categorical case for killing human infants. It  is a decision that allows that their status as beings who may not be killed with impunity to be open to discussion. That's not neutral, by any meaningful definition of neutrality. It's laudable to try to abstain from making a substantive judgment in publication decisions across a wide range of positions, but the range is not, in fact, limitless. So the fact that you drew the line so as to include this piece is actually significant.

    At any rate, the quoted passage above is the only thing in this defense that holds up. The nonsense about internet comments being more of a threat to society than infanticide deserves exactly the commentary it has been getting here. I don't defend the death threats, but whining about liberal values and so on is ridiculous. Again, the friction between open discussion and respect for human dignity is not new – you do not publish articles, however logically structured, that proceed from the assumption that Jews all deserve death (notice that many people believe this) to the conclusion that a new Final Solution would be justified. So the combination of logical structure and widely accepted premises, while relevant, is not sufficient. The position still has to be judged as within the space of ethically permissible discussion. It's good, for various reasons, to interpret that space as a wide one. But it is not infinite, in fact. So the defense here is inadequate.

    What would be a good defense is this: we are working in a certain group of people – call them the medical ethics community – who typically accept some of a certain range of premises on this issue. Many of them accept the authors' premises, but deny (or do not publicly endorse) the authors' conclusions. Hence a logically argued article moving from those premises to those conclusions is a rational contribution to the discussion among this group of people. The end.

  134.  Johan that is a very uncharitable reading of the argument let me rework that for you:

    “Hmmm, so, according to Savulescu:
    i) arguing for infanticide is not disturbing.
    ii) people who threaten, abuse and attack people for arguing for infanticide are opposed to liberal values.
    iii) the disorder in the world is that people threaten, abuse and attack those who argue for infanticide rather than engaging in a reasoned debate and thus are against liberal values”

    Does that make it clearer?

  135.  Well it depends on the argument. Personally I'd say that they have moral status, but then I'd say foetuses past a certain point, and other animals also have moral status.

  136. I, too, was born with a condition that would have lead the authors of this article to recommend my “termination.” I had congenital glaucoma and was blind shortly after birth. My parents were told I would never see. However, after several operations, I recovered a good deal of vision and have been able to live a very productive life. I now possess five college degrees, have widely published in my field of research, and have raised a large family of equally happy children who are productive members of society.

  137.  You missed an important word there Mike “Novel” – the argument itself is, as the editor said, relatively familiar it is the application and the family related aspects which are novel.

  138.  Those aspects aren't novel either. They first appeared in the paper by Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche “Authorisation for the destruction of life unworthy of life”  in Germany in 1920. This was the foundation for the T4 programme for the killing of new born babies with disabilities, which was the opening act of the Holucast in 1939. Those responsible where found guilty of crimes against humanity at Nuremberg in the “Doctors Trial”. These bio-unethicists are propagating the same view and they will be held accountable too. The Down syndrome community won't be silent this time for starters.

  139. “If abortion is permissible, infanticide should be permissible.” Well, that's about the most honest admission about abortion I've heard in a long time. You do realize, Journal of Medical Ethics, that you've just given your endorsement to the practices of Kermit Gossnell. 

  140.  To expand on my point that the family aspect is not new: In 1938 the Knauer family petitioned Hilter to allow the killing of a disabled baby. After authorisation was granted by Hitler the T4 decree was set in motion, launching the widespread killing of disabled infants. The the practice moved on to the Gypsies and finally the Jews.

  141. “People (like Hitler) who write books arguing for the extermination of Jews are not monsters. People engaged in the extermination of Jews (like Mengele) are monsters. People who post flame comments on journal websites are trolls. Hitlers, Mengeles and Trolls all have a place in this world.”

    Your remarks are too loony to be considered offensive. You simply lack all moral sense.

  142. ” I am not sure about the legality of publishing abusive threatening anonymous correspondence, so I won’t repeat it here.” Ironic in light of the topic. I guess the point made is that the article threatening children and fathers (yes, the father of the child has rights) was NOT anonymous, thus it fits a different category, Personally, I am please to see eugenicsviews published and I'd like to see more. For the curious, look into the Hazel Luikart case of 1919 to see a eugenics idea put into practice when combined with another progressive idea.

  143. So let’s just call capital punishment ‘retroactive abortion’.  After all, haven’t murderers regressed to being ‘potential humans’ or whatever the term used in the paper is?

  144. Those who are issuing death threats can reasonably be called  “fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.”  However, lumping death threats with the opinions of those who merely express disapproval, even extreme disapproval to the point of saying that God will send these authors to Hell, is also a form of opposition to those values, as you seem to be saying it's okay to disagree, but only to a limited quantity of disagreement, for which you seem to draw the line at moral, rather than logical, counterarguments. 

  145.  This combines a couple of my replies to posts below and
    overviews where this argument has been presented before, just so we are clear
    with what we are dealing with here.

     These arguments first
    appeared in the paper by Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche “Authorisation for
    the destruction of life unworthy of life” in Germany in 1920. This
    was the foundation for the T4 programme for the killing of new born babies with
    disabilities, which was the opening act of the Holocaust in 1939. Those
    killings specifically referred to those with Down syndrome, in the same way
    this paper does.

    The “family aspect” for killing infants is also not new: In
    1938 the Knauer family petitioned Hitler to allow the killing of a disabled
    baby. After authorisation was granted by Hitler the T4 decree was set in
    motion, launching the widespread killing of disabled infants. The practice
    moved on to the Gypsies and finally the Jews.

    Those responsible where found guilty of crimes against
    humanity at Nuremberg in the “Doctors Trial”. These latest eugenic
    anti-life bio-unethicists are propagating the same view and they will be held
    accountable too.

  146. My son we diagnosed at 19 weeks in utero with Spina Bifida, we proceeded with the pregnancy nothing we heard gave us a reason not too and our medical team were nothing but supportive. At his birth we discovered his defect was bigger than everyone was expecting and while a shock, it didn't change how much we love our son and how wanted he is. He had his surgery and is now a 1year old who is crawling, sitting up by himself, pulling himself up on his knees, talking, vocalising, smiling and getting into mischief. How dare these people question whether he has a right to life. He brings nothing but joy to his immediate and extended family and he is not a burden in anyway. I can't believe they didn't expect the reaction they have gotten, this shows they don't live in the real world. It's very easy to write inflammatory statements sitting behind a desk without questioning the group of people they are happy to say shouldn't be allowed to live.

  147. I think an obvious contradiction arises. Goals and ambitions are necessarily future-directed, as is “potential.” Until they are achieved, “aims,” goals, etc. are merely potential achievements. There is no compelling logic to venerating potential achievements while dismissing the right to life of newborns because they are only “potential persons.”

    Furthermore I contest your use of the definite article in referring to “the fairly standard personhood position.” The “fairly standard” position is that, once born, babies in civilized societies are persons.

  148.  As an avowed bleeding heart liberal I have to express my utter disgust at the viewpoint argued by the paper and its authors, and at the way your editorial seeks to portray those who object to its position as solely ascientific, racist, right-wing thugs.

    The article starts from the explicitly Medical Model presumption that a disabled life is a lesser life and proceeds from that to define a disabled person as a non-person. Imagine the firestorm if it had argued a non-caucasian life is a lesser life, a non-person. I am disabled, for me there can be no difference between the two positions. This is a frightening time for disabled people, we see a hardening of attitudes towards us, we face harassment in the streets if not outright assault (I'm into double figures myself with hate crime incidents), we are increasingly portrayed as fakes, frauds and scroungers by media and our own governments, and most chillingly of all, we see a resurgence of eugenics within the bio-ethics community, and that community attempting to justify and defend those who spawn such hateful views (you can object to the emotive language once you have faced physical assault in the street from utter strangers simply for walking while disabled).

    Disability hate crime in the UK has reached the point that rabbis are now drawing explicit parallels with Germany in the 1930s, any bio-ethicist should be well aware of what came next. You might argue that such things could never happen again, but Aktion T4! sprang from the argument that the life of a single baby was not worth living, doctors took away that child's name, made him a non-person, killed him, but we know now that his name was Gerhard Kretschmar, and we know exactly where that one death lead. Is the paper's position really any different to that put forward by Hitler's personal doctor when tasked to create a plan of action? The authors argue once more that disabled babies are non-people, and where that argument might lead in the current hostile environment towards disabled people is a prospect we are fully entitled to find very frightening. The authors don't even have the courage to call infanticide infanticide,  if their logic is flawless then is should hold whatever the name, yet to hide the reality of what they propose they obfuscate it behind a smokescreen of changing names and vaporous pseudo-logic. What does that tell us?

    There are two differences this time around. Disabled people have a voice now and we will not go gentle into that good night. If you argue that we are less, or defend those do, then expect to be regarded as the disablists you are, treated with the contempt you deserve, and challenged for it, just as racists are challenged whenever they rear their ugly ideologies into the view of civilised people. The second difference is that bio-ethicists have been down this path before, you know the risks and where it might lead, you know that a disabled life is almost without exception a full and fulfilling one, but that the acceptance of disabled people into society as true equals is deeply problematical, with disability hate crime a very real threat. You have the professional responsibility not to set either of those points aside when debating the issue, and to demand a full and frank discussion of all of them as a minimal standard of any peer-reviewed paper. Ethics demands no less, but Ethics was failed by the decision to publish, most especially by the decision to publish unchallenged and uncondemned.

    My assessment, one I doubt I'm alone in within the disabled community, is that the leadership and rank and file of the bio-ethics establishment have been consistently failing at these tasks for the past decade or more, that they have neither actively argued the equal value of disabled life, nor adequately challenged those who try to advocate eugenics based euthanasia to justify the risks they raise for disabled people. To argue that disabled life is a lesser life is no different to racism, to defend the right to those views at a time when disabled people face a rising tide of harassment and hate is no different to defending racism in a racially charged environment. Will you rise to the challenge and stand alongside disabled people to do what is right, or are you condemned to repeat the lessons of history?

  149. Precisely what this paper is lacking. Actual references and real data rather than a personal opinion. 

  150. The journal believes that this is a well reasoned argument based on widely accepted premises? Laughable, this is not a widely accepted premise, and their idea is neither sound nor rational, it is pure insanity and depravity. nothing more. You people call yourselves” highly educated” You haven't a clue how to be human so how dare you use that term to describe yourselves. Eric couldn't have said it better. I am so very lucky to be of the normal people than your group, I pity all of you.

  151. This paper reflects the sad reality of peer reviewed articles. The fact that a paper of this quality (or lack of) was allowed to be published; the fact that a paper lacking every moral and ethical fiber was allowed to make it through peer review and to a journal reporting research related to ethics, and supposedly educating scientists and society on ethics, is utterly despicable, does nothing to help the perception of science amongst lay people, and is of no interest to humanity in general. Most journals tell their reviewers something along the lines that they publish solid, credible science that adds to the literature of the field of interest. This paper is neither solid, nor credible, nor does it add to the literature of the field of interest.

    Journals also tell the reviewer they are looking for a brief, constructive review addressing the following questions or the likes:  Is this a manuscript with solid, credible science?  Does it add to the current literature?

    The answer to both questions is in the negative:
    The paper is NOT solid in its scientific arguments, because the paper's basis are purely ideologically based, making numerous subjective conclusion but posing them as if objectively decided.

    The paper moreover, does NOT add anything to current literature. In fact it detracts from the credibility not only of this journal but of all scientific journals and science in general.

    If this journal wishes to maintain its credibility it should retract this paper and issue an apology to the scientific community for reducing the credibility of science amongst society in general. Far from a contribution, the paper, and as a result the journal are insulting our intelligence and hurting the cause of science.

  152. Some positive, I never really thought before but now, I am an anti-abortion convinced. I also suggest to the authors of this article that if they love so much the idea to kill baby, they should kill themselve to really make their mind up. Everybody would be pleased, the antiabortion would see  two less opponents, the proabortion qould see two more abortion and the society in general qould get rid of two parasites.

  153. Oy, so much wrong here its not funny.

    Of course death threats are wrong and I hope you have reported it to the appropriate authorities and the appropriate authorities take it seriously.

    But this line is ridiculous:

    > More than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.

    sorry but that is precisely how freedom should work.  If someone writes something that someone else doesn't like, they are allowed to criticize it, rudely even.  even in bigoted terms, although that is not my preference.  and that is NOT a threat to academic freedom.  That is precisely what happens in a free society–speech is countered with other speech and not threats and bombs.

    The fact is that the article is evil, pure evil.  That doesn't make this publication evil for publishing it.  There is something to be said for the idea of dragging this filth into the sunlight so that they can be criticized.  But yes it is evil, and i don't care if 50 “respected ethics experts” think its swell, that is an indictment on them, not on those who think it is evil.  It is not fanatical to oppose infanticide.  It is evil to practice it or promote it.

    It is no exaggeration that the authors of this article sound precisely like the Nazis when they justified the T-4 program where handicapped people were deemed “life unworthy of life” and massacred, setting the stage later for the holocaust where jews were deemed morally handicapped.  And I am not infringing upon their freedom of speech by saying that.

  154. Just to be clear, I disagree with the Editor and am horrified by the 'reasonings' of the people who wrote this article in the first place. However, I think what the Editor's point in that statement was that infanticide isn't a 'novel' (new) idea- it has been thought of and acted on prior to now- but that the 'novel' idea is that they take the [in my mind, illogical] premises supporting abortion and carry them out to their 'logical' extreme- infanticide- whilst coming up with more 'reasons' why the mother and society will 'benefit' from it. 
    I DO have to wonder how they can possibly think that taking a child from it's mother's arms and killing it will reduce her psychological suffering…! Truly, the only ones who could benefit from this kind of unconscionable practice are those who are paid to do so, and the insurance/ HMO's that can reduce their overheads as a result.

  155. The ethicists haven't demonstrated that they are human persons, so it's not clear to me what their problem is.

    They have no right to comment, since any opinion they have about their own personhood would clearly be biased.

    I think we should get a panel together to study the issue: are these ethicists worthy of life?

    Do they really have the prospect of a decent quality of life?

    Because if they don't – and my initial reaction is that they are too dour and unimaginative to really manage quality of life – then they certainly couldn't complain if someone euthanized them.

    Certainly they understand that drawing the line at “newborn” is really just an arbitrary standard, no more defensible than drawing the line at “birth” or the second trimester or the first trimester.

    All these lines are arbitrary, and they've shown no compelling reason to think that age really has anything to do with it. It revolves around mental function. 

    Now, I think a very strong case can be made that these two ethicists are, in the quaint phrasing of a distant age, “mentally retarded” at the very least, and quite probably mentally incompetent. As such, the kindest thing anyone can do is put them out of our misery. 

    And if you disagree with me, you are infringing on my free speech rights.

  156. 'Like', but I think you meant 'fallible' rather than infallible humans at the end, right?

  157. By  “knee bone connected to the hip bone” logic, more and more humans become non-humans and have no right to life. This “after birth abortion” paper is indeed just one more extension in a logical chain of argument stretching back quite some time. J Savulescu's assertion is indeed correct that there is not much new here besides the daring to say out loud what others have only hinted at. Little baby, you're dead because I feel like killing you right now. My feelings trump your life. 

    The authors' arguments have led to a great mental anguish across the planet. In the scale of global happiness and in the spirit of their own argument, their lives should be forfeit. No doubt it should be when they are unconscious, incapable of protesting that they have a sense of self and should be considered persons. 

    What, too early? Have not enough logical bones been connected yet for the generalized killing of those who upset us? Perhaps that will come out of next year's grant proposals. Happy circumstances for the authors indeed that their opponents do not, in general, share the authors' barbarism. 

  158. “The comments include openly racist remarks:
    “Alberto Giubilini looks like a muslim so I have to agree with him that all muslims should have been aborted. If abortion fails, no life at birth – just like he wants.”

    This is a joke, right?
    I mean, even an intellectual like yourself is not so stupid as to believe that “muslim” is a race, right?
    You DO realize that Muslims come in all sizes, shapes, skin colors and clothing types, right?
    You DO, for instance, realize that not all Arabs are Muslims, nor are all Muslims Arabs, right?

    My Lord, how you “intellectuals” parody yourselves even as you attempt to defend yourselves! Gross incompetence leaps to the fore as you demonstrate that you can't even recognize the difference between race and creed, much less accurately identify “racism”!
    You're so eager to tack the label onto your opponents that you didn't bother to check the contents! 
    Do us all a favor – quit living the stereotype. 
    Oh, and quit hiding behind the facade of “reasoned engagement.” You're simply stupid. There's no cure for that. 

  159. Why should the authors block the move between infant and toddler? Aren't you assuming that they would even want to? 

  160. Philosophy is arguing without reference to empirical data and doesn’t necessarily reference anybody. It tends to be arguing for your own personal opinion.

    This paper is “lacking” actual references and data because the discipline does not require these things.
    Just thought I’d point that out. I do, however, highly disagree with the authors.

  161. First, I think the talk of violence toward the authors and “after-birth abortion” are both despicable.  However, let's consider that these people's violent comments actually aren't advocating anything that the authors haven't already advocated in their own article.  Just because the authors advocate it in a scholarly journal and are clearly much more intelligent than many of the people commenting doesn't mean they're not both advocating for the exact same thing.  It's also important to note that 99%  are commenting on phrases pulled out of context in a news article without reading the actual article journal publication. 

    I intend to read this article in the morning when I get to work (I hope it will still be available then), but if the authors are truly advocating for “after-birth abortion” because the “moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus
    in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of
    a right to life to an individual.” and because they are not a person as defined by them, “an individual who is capable of attributing to her
    own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this
    existence represents a loss to her.” I would challenge both of those statements. 

    Please define for me the “properties that justify the attribution of a right to life.”  Based on the way the Telegraph article presents your publication, it seems that those properties could simply be stated as anyone who is deemed to require more from society than they are capable of contributing would not have a justifiable right to life.  I hope that's not the argument you make in the article, and I hope there is a more palatable list of “properties” when I read it tomorrow.  I really hope there are at least some “properties” listed, otherwise I would question how this article passed peer review with such an obvious logical step blatantly being ignored. 

    Also, how did you come to the conclusion that a newborn is incapable of attributing value to their own existence?  Did you ask them?  I would argue quite the contrary.  Not only are new born babies capable of attributing value to their own existence, their own existence is actually the ONLY thing they are capable of attributing value to.  New born babies are the most selfish beings on the planet.  They only think about themselves.  If they're hungry, they cry.  If they're uncomfortable, they cry.  If you cause them pain, they cry.  If you do something they don't like, they cry.  They don't care what time it is.  They don't care if you're asleep.  They don't care about you at all, only themselves. 

    Fortunately, loving parents indulge this selfishness for a time.  They feed and clothe these bundles of unadulterated selfishness, and as they develop cognitively, begin to teach them that they are not the only person on the planet.  Good parents take a new born bundle of selfishness and nurture them into a person who realizes that they are part of a society that does not revolve around them.  Great parents teach them that they have a responsibility to care for others.  Generally this results in them becoming parents themselves.  However, the best parents  instill a desire to care for those who can't care for themselves, to defend the disenfranchised, to protect the powerless.  I would actually argue that the definition of a person is exactly the opposite of the definition used by the authors of this publication.  A person is an individual who is capable of attributing to the existence of others some basic value such that being deprived of their existence represents a loss to themselves and society. 

    There is no reason to threaten or even suggest violence toward the authors of this article.  In proper discourse, the pure selfishness of their argument will be proven to be… infantile.

  162. Whilst I appreciate the academic value of this paper and also understand why you published it I am a little disappointed in the lack of referencing/bold statements.

    As someone from a science research field myself I want to know where some of the data involved in the conclusions made came from!?

    “many of the parents would chose to have an abortion'
    this statement is a bit flaky with the author assuming their opinion is the same as the parent?

    “Those who are only capable of experiencing pain and pleasure (like perhaps fetuses and certainly newborns) “
    Where is the proof  they don't feel anything else?
    I understand the Author may not be of a medical science background however if she delved a little into embryology she would see that in fact just pleasure and pain are very few of the things that a fetus can experience. 
    They certainly recognise language and sounds, emotions of the mother etc.
    Explaining these things in detail is off the topic of her paper but then perhaps such bold and false statements should never have been approved by editors and peers.

  163. The argument at the end of the “potential persons” section did interest me, however: its conclusion is to argue that while there is no obligation to preserve the life of this particular individual since it is not a person and we must therefore privilege the actual lives extant persons, there is an obligation to think about the totally non-existent lives of future generations because such people “will exist” (emphasis on “will”). So, this living thing in front of me exists, but not as a person. It can die because it's not a person. But this future person that doesn't exist can't be harmed/killed because it will exist as a person (no, wait — I think it already exists as a future person). “

    I love this comment.. it's the best thing I have read all day!

  164. EXACTLY, Marianne, EXACTLY…! I've been wondering if anyone would see the connection and the logical conclusion arising from it. The editor connected the dots but somehow missed the boat… 
    One can either say (heaven forbid!) that since it's fine to kill babies in the womb, it's fine to kill babies outside the womb, and children, and adolescents, and adults… OR one can say, 'If it's so abhorrent to kill a baby outside the womb, and the only difference between him or her and the baby inside the womb is LOCATION (b/c children outside the womb are also still growing and developing…) THEN it should be equally abhorrent to kill the baby in the womb. Frankly, I'm for letting them -whether in or out- LIVE!

  165. If someone opposed the values of a liberal society, does that make them a fanatic?  I call it a difference of opinion.  It's ludicrous that you paint all conservatives with the same brush by implying that anyone who passionately opposes the publication of this article as being racist, fanatical, closed-minded, etc, because of the hand-picked statements reprinted here.  You sure can make a case for yourself by only taking the most vial statements, and likely fabricating some as well.

  166. I was halfway through researching my response when I read yours, which said exactly what I was going to say and referenced the sources I was going to use. Thank you very much indeed. The only meaningful addition I feel I can provide to your argument deals with Guess 33’s comment”
    “Philosophy is arguing without reference to empirical data and doesn’t necessarily reference anybody. It tends to be arguing for your own personal opinion.This paper is “lacking” actual references and data because the discipline does not require these things.”Maybe, just maybe, there is something seriously wrong with a discipline which disregards the most basic foundation of the empiricist paradigm, namely data? Maybe, just maybe, the rest of us (from historians to physicists, from sociologists to medical researchers) who eat, breathe and live data, and who stand and fall by our use of and respect for data, should explain to philosophers something about the nature and limits of knowledge, and of arguments worth making?A small multidisciplinary group of fun-loving and quick-witted scholars could work wonders during question times of analytical philosophy conferences. If anybody is interested, just email me: dellaversano@humnet.unipi.it

  167. Savulescu clearly says that arguing for infanticide is not disturbing but arguing against it is.
    Liberal values include decency and ethical behavior.  It does not
    include infanticide.  It does not even include a clever defense of
    infanticide.  Neither does it include the need, nor obligation, to
    publish a poorly argued case for infanticide.

    To argue for infanticide is the very antithesis of liberal values.
    Now, was that so difficult?

  168. My girlfriend is disabled, and the authors of the original article would have had her murdered at birth.

  169. Julian Savulescu,Sir, are you truly that blinded by the introspection of your own naval that you can claim that killing a post partum fetus is not infanticide by definition?If so, I pity you the loss of your humanity.


    This combines a couple of my replies to posts below and
    overviews where this argument has been presented before, just so we are clear
    with what we are dealing with here.

     These arguments first
    appeared in the paper by Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche “Authorisation for
    the destruction of life unworthy of life” in Germany in 1920. This
    was the foundation for the T4 programme for the killing of new born babies with
    disabilities, which was the opening act of the Holocaust in 1939. Those
    killings specifically referred to those with Down syndrome, in the same way
    this paper does.

    The “family aspect” for killing infants is also not new: In
    1938 the Knauer family petitioned Hitler to allow the killing of a disabled
    baby. After authorisation was granted by Hitler the T4 decree was set in
    motion, launching the widespread killing of disabled infants. The practice
    moved on to the Gypsies and finally the Jews.

    Those responsible where found guilty of crimes against
    humanity at Nuremberg in the “Doctors Trial”. These latest eugenic
    anti-life bio-unethicists are propagating the same view and they will be held
    accountable too.

  171. At what point would the editors determine that “ethicists” should be censured, corrected or even retrained?

    The arguments don't work other than as an example of the logical results of the utilitarian world view that has come to dominate medical ethics and to illustrate Leon Kass called the “Yuck factor.”

  172. And least someone dismiss your argument as unserious because “We’d never be like the Nazis” it needs to be pointed out that their law was based on what had been happening in California.

  173. Kenneth Boyd writes 'It has subsequently been suggested to me that people whose lives might
    have been ended by ‘after-birth abortion’ were this legal, might be
    deeply offended by this paper. If that is the case I am sorry, but I am
    also confident that many of these people are equally capable of mounting
    a robust academic reply to the paper'. Many of them are, but should they have to mount a robust academic defence of their right to be alive? We do not expect that of any other members of society. The demand that disabled people, who were singled out by the article, have to show that they contribute positively to society's balance sheet in order to justify their existence is unique to them. They are treated as 'not people' by the authors of the article, and the eminent scholars mentioned in the editorial, until they can prove otherwise. 

  174. We do not understand how caring about whether you live or die is instantiated in the brain. We do know that sometime between when the foetus first develops a brain and when a child starts talking, the child starts to create knowledge and could be creating the knowledge required to care about life and death. I should think that the best policy is to give newborn babies the benefit of the doubt.

  175. I’m sorry – I have not read your reply – just want to add my comments. Hitler had that view(of the original auther).mWhy does he go to Syria and stand in line with a bomb. We don’t need his kind in society

  176. I have an MA in Biotechnological Law and Ethics from Sheffield University. I remember one lecturer successfully arguing that babies born blue should be boiled, to make the point that anything can be argued logically but it doesn't necessarily make it right. Like, for example 'after-birth abortion' – or 'murdering newborn babies' in layman's terms. I think the journal editors may have lost the plot a bit here…

  177. Judging from comments given by people, both laymen and academics, your opinion that the authors’ arguments are presented “in EXTREMELY logical and widely accepted fashion” is clearly biased and has lots of assumption behind it. 

    If the argument is presented in EXTREMELY logical fashion, why then the argument seems to disturb logical flow of humans’ mind? Are you then accusing those people who disagree with the argument to be illogical and doesn’t have working mind? And it seems the fashion in which the authors presented the argument is not widely accepted; you can see how much rejections the article has received. 

    You are clearly assuming that your standard is the only legitimate one and your assumption is certainly being proven to be wrong.  

  178. Putting the extreme controver5sy to one side, this is a very poor paper. Poorly argued. Full stop. Take just one line from the paper:

    “Now, hardly can a newborn be said to have aims”

    What an absurd claim! Newborns have an incredibly powerful aim to survive. Everything they do shows their aim to survive.

    I am struggling to take this paper seriously, and the editors really need to take a good look at themselves.

    Very poor quality.

  179. The irony of your defense of the paper and the hoi polloi reaction does not seem obvious to you. This qualifies you for a grant of a seeing eye dog.

    Oh and ponder this, what is the distance between what the paper argues and parents in some cultures selectively getting rid of girls because they will be a burden as compared to boys? IMO the difference is in the definition of burden.

  180. Lastima que los padres de los autores no hubieran decidido cometer infanticidio con vosostros.

  181. I've read the article, and am deeply troubled by it. I consider myself socially and politically very liberal, and would consider myself in favour of women having the right to abortion – on whatever terms that women deem appropriate. By way of background, I'm a doctor in Australia with more than 20 years' experience. 

    I am disturbed by the use of the term 'After-Birth Abortion' as a euphemism for infanticide, and think that it would have been more intellectually honest for the authors to use an accepted term, rather than a novel – and ambiguous – phrase. The authors' failure to define a boundary between a 'non person' infant and a 'person' infant, or at least, acknowledge the arbitrary nature of any such delineation, is particularly troubling. Following the authors' line of logic, a simple chronological demarcation is inappropriate, as some infants' capacities may render them 'persons' sooner or later than others. The lack of operationalised criteria to define 'persons' or 'non persons' creates, in my opinion, a slippery slope subject to the opinions of parents, health professionals and health services. 

    Whilst appreciative of the rights to academic freedom, and the right to freedom of expression, I think that the editorial opinion that these have been compromised by the response to the article is simplistic and disingenuous. Would the Journal of Medical Ethics publish a “sound rational argument” for genocide? Or forced euthanasia of those over 65? Or the forced euthanasia (or what may be called 'Very Late After-Birth Abortion'?) of individuals with severe acquired brain injuries? If not, why not? Creating an atmosphere of moral ambiguity in this way gives the imprimatur of respectability to those who may choose in future to distort the argument to suit their own needs. 

    I do not see the article as 'evil' but rather a deliberately pretentious and provocative article designed to increase the impact factor of the journal, and increase the citation rates of the authors. In this regard, you've achieved the ultimate aims of your publication. 

  182. This paper reflects the sad reality of peer reviewed articles. The fact
    that a paper of this quality (or lack of) was allowed to be published;
    the fact that a paper lacking every moral and ethical fiber was allowed
    to make it through peer review and to a journal reporting research
    related to ethics, and supposedly educating scientists and society on
    ethics, is utterly despicable, does nothing to help the perception of
    science amongst lay people, and is of no interest to humanity in
    general. Most journals tell their reviewers something along the lines
    that they publish solid, credible science that adds to the literature of
    the field of interest. This paper is neither solid, nor credible, nor
    does it add to the literature of the field of interest.

    Journals also tell the reviewer they are looking for a brief,
    constructive review addressing the following questions or the likes:  Is
    this a manuscript with solid, credible science?  Does it add to the
    current literature?

    The answer to both questions is in the negative:

    The paper is NOT solid in its scientific arguments, because the paper's
    basis are purely ideologically based, making numerous subjective
    conclusion but posing them as if objectively decided.

    The paper moreover, does NOT add anything to current literature. In fact
    it detracts from the credibility not only of this journal but of all
    scientific journals and science in general.

    If this journal wishes to maintain its credibility it should retract
    this paper and issue an apology to the scientific community for reducing
    the credibility of science amongst society in general and promoting murder – promoting the destruction of human life, which we as scientists are charged with trying to understand and to help preserve. Far from a
    contribution, the paper, and as a result the journal are insulting our
    intelligence and hurting the cause of science.

  183. Wow! An ethics journal without conscience. Irony. You deserve the backlash you have received. If you don't want to be despised, don't provoke such in your elitist, holier than thou fashion, by equating academic qualifications with morality. Medical science and the self inflated sense of self ego displayed by such 'scientists', has a lot to answer for. MK ULTRA was medical science, Josef Mengele was a medical scientist, Dr. Donald Cameron was a medical scientist…
      Here, we clearly see that science, across the genres, has no compassion, conscience or moral/ethical values. Disgusting.


  184. I find it interesting that the editors of this journal choose only to comment on those more extreme responses to this article that personally attack the authors and the like – I'm sure there were many responses that disagreed with the subject matter strongly without attacking the people – why are none of these printed? This is totally biased and frankly completely contradictory of their supposed desire for 'logical' arguments.  Logic alone is not enough to decide an ethical decision – most ethical dilemmas involved people therefore you have to have a response that acknowledges that fact, not merely a cold, impersonal, academic response.  

  185. Am I the only one who thought that this article was an elaborate, ironic argument AGAINST abortion?..

  186. I take exception to the statement by the editor, that the real problem here is that there is “deep opposition to liberal values and fanatical opposition to any kind of reasoned engagement.” This implies somehow that “liberal values” have some kind of enshrinement. On what basis does he seek to justify such a statement? Despite purporting to favour scholarly discussion, it appears the playing field is far from level, and at heart only those who argue from the same liberal worldview will be treated with respect.
    Whilst I agree that the paper in question cannot be held responsible for what is a logical progression in the argument which started with abortion and also includes euthanasia, what is 'scary' is that those who originally lobbied in favour of abortion did not follow through the logical progression of their arguments to forsee the question of infanticide on the horizon, and have left us now with the problem of those who seek to push things to their 'logical end'. And yet, life is far from logical! May I refer readers to a movie, Gattaca, which is an interesting exploration of a fictional society with genetically selected births. The point is, that should we seek to make life 'better' by choosing who can live or not, we will ultimately deprive humankind – consider that Abraham Lincoln had Marfan's syndrome and Einstein had dyslexia – they might well have been 'terminated' at birth! How is one human being able to decide before the fact, that a life (before or) after birth is not worth living? Our mere human science and philosophy cannot predict a life worth living, they cannot predict the future, much as they may claim to (refer to the arguments presented in the article), therefore they should certainly not be given the power to decide regarding the end of a life.

  187. I wonder how genuinely objective or neutral the editor of JME is being here. Consider his ill judged rant at the 'deep disorder of the modern world'. It really is quite an emotional response. But we would be naive not to consider this. He is Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. The co-author of the paper (Minerva) is also affiliated to the same centre. They are both Australian. Misplaced loyalty?

    I think we now now why the editor has issued such an emotional and over the top defence of what is, all things considered, a poor piece of scholarship.

  188. In your world it is intellectually acceptable to reconsider murder based on who and what you consider to be a person, but unthinkable to deal with the outrage it fosters to do so? Hitler would agree. I'm sure that he would have loved to have had you publish his thoughts on the “personhood” of the Jews and then defend him against the outrage that followed.

  189. I'm shocked and I feel physically sick at the 'ethics' promoted in this article.

    As the mother of a severely physically disabled adult the suggestion that she should have been murdered at birth is horrific.  I use the word murder because that is what it is.

    I can accurately state, and prove, that the 'suffering' in her life has not been so much due to her disability but to the attitudes of health care employees who deliberately neglect her needs because they see her as less worthy and believe that they are entitled to discriminate against her because of this.  There have been incidents where her life has been put at risk due to this neglect and discrimination – but she, quite rightly, refused to lay down and die!

    There are no 'ethics' in the promotion of murder.  Indeed this promotion of murder constitutes a hate crime.  There is no defence of the writing and publication of this appalling propaganda. It can not be defended by saying 'Singer said it first' – Singer is wrong too!

    It can not be defended by quoting 'selected' online comments that disagree vehemently with the promotion of murder. Such comments reflect the horror and anger that people genuinely feel on this matter.

    My daughter's life is not an inconvenience, she is beautiful, talented, intelligent, happy and she loves life.  Over recent years our lives have been destroyed by medical and social employees who have sought to attack us for daring to complain about the way they have treated her – all we asked for was health care!  Debate the ethics in that!


  190. I am neither a medical professional nor an academic and was drawn to read this article in response to the tabloid style coverage it received. Personally, I found the arguments interesting, if a little shallow and poorly formed, but  a lot more interesting than the reports it spawned.
    My biggest disappointment came in reading comments pages. Clearly, the feeling amongst many of  the academics/medics who felt moved to comment is that this journal should not publish anything that they disagree with ormight offend their own moral code. Was that, indeed, one of the characteristics on the Nazi regime that the detractors of this article/journal have been so keen to cite.
    The idea put forward in this article will be abhorrent to the vast majority of us but that doesn't mean it should be discussed. That's what scientists and philosophers do, is it not.
    Only by discussing unpleasant ideas can we refute them. I suggest that this is the purpose of academic journals. Certainly, open debate on matters which affect humanity is better than hiding behind God, or Nazi history.

  191. I do not condone the racist and threatening comments made by some of those in response to the original article, in fact I abhor them. But, we do have to stop and ask ourselves where we draw the line with science and ethics. Abortion in some circumstances is legal in the UK. I am pro-life and do not support abortion and by extension could not support after-life abortion, whatever label we give it. Nor can I support euthanasia. Killing another person is fundamentally wrong, we cannot create life and we have no right to take away a life.. As a Christian I would argue that it breaches to commandments which at the end of the day are designed for the survival of mankind.We have speed limits on our roads to prevent deaths, science too should have its limits and the idea of killing new-born babies passes those limits by far.  Life is precious and as civilised beings, we should protect it, especially in its weakest forms – babies, elderly, infirm. If we fail to do that, then we doom our race to early extension, if not through poor science, then through the hand of God Himself.

  192. I applaud the decision to publish this article. I also applaud the authors for their impeccable logic and courage in publishing this. (PS: I do consider myself a Christian.)

  193. because if abortion is acceptable, so is the murder of any human being. that abortion is acceptable is only a failed construct implanted into the contemporary culture by the leftists like many other contradictory and illogical demands they have to promote only those values that suit them and reject those that do not.

  194. This Savulescu filth should be exterminated alongside the two infanticidal scum its defending. Bullet, bomb, or “play time” with some knives, any means is acceptable as long as the three of them die

  195. Did you mean to use the word rebutt when talking about gay people?  That is just too funny!!

  196. Not that people would give arguments in favour of infanticide, but the
    deep opposition that exists now to liberal values and fanatical
    opposition to any kind of reasoned engagement.

    The fundamental liberal values are life and liberty; these are even more important than reasoned argument, since those killed or enslaved are hardly in a position to engage in such rhetorical exercises.  The murder of human beings — or making preliminary arguments to justify such — is in fact the opposition to liberal values that our Editor decries.  One hopes that this oversight is due to simple ignorance or misunderstanding on the part of the Editor, and is not due to willful deceit.

  197. As disturbing as this article is I appreciate this statement in your response:

    “Of course, many people will argue that on this basis abortion should be recriminalised. Those arguments can be well made and the Journal would publish a paper than made such a case coherently, originally and with application to issues of public or medical concern. The Journal does not specifically support substantive moral views, ideologies, theories, dogmas or moral outlooks, over others. It supports sound rational argument. Moreover, it supports freedom of ethical expression. The Journal welcomes reasoned coherent responses to After-Birth Abortion. Or indeed on any topic relevant to medical ethics.”.
    My question is who will you accept this article from? I think youre right, it's all the same, it's all criminal, I pray this brings to the surface our illogical thinking on abortion in general.

  198. And Dr. Williams, I presume that had you not had your sight restored you would still have preferred to take your chances as a blind man, rather than having someone else decide that such a life wouldn't be worthwhile.  After all, look at the horrible lives that Ray Charles led and Stevie Wonder continues to lead. 

  199. Jonathan Swift, in his satirical essay “A Modest Proposal”, proposed the eating of the babies of the lower classes by the upper classes.  Either this article is a satire published a month too early for April Fools, or we have really reached the nadir of modern society, and can look forward to better days as we climb back up towards civilisation again.

  200. So, basically your response is, ‘Hey, academic freedom.’

    No critical thinking that there might be some limit to where we should take this argument in a serious journal.  No thought to the damage you do to the field of medical ethics by rewarding this sort of ‘reasoning.’

    Sorry, most of the rest of society doesn’t believe in completely value free discussion of this sort of thing. 

    Yes, you are free to publish, but the rest of society is free to use their powers of free speech to share what they think of thinking and ‘ethics’ of both the authors and you.

    Surely you knew this paper would cause controversy and get a response outside of your tiny circle.  

    They are free to have these ideas.  You gave them a megaphone.

    People outside of your peer group heard.  Now they know the sorts of ideas you trade in and they don’t approve.

    I don’t approve of the threats.  Insults, yes.  Threats, no.

    Frankly, I think the authors are morally stunted and have had their perspective distorted by too much time in a narrow field of academia.

  201. You are correct, Mr. Stahl. I would challenge the lunatics who wrote this article to listen to the guitar concertos of the blind composer, Joaquin Rodrigo. They are a magnificent part of our cultural heritage. Indeed, there are countless “handicapped” individuals in history who have created much more beauty, discovered more truth, and written more wisdom than the fools who edit this journal of “ethics.”

  202. The editor and authors have awfully thin skin. What did they think would be the response when they published an article in favor of infanticide? Calling for the murder of children is evil. Calling people who would murder children evil is neither evil nor abusive.

    The editor believes that this position is defensible solely becuase it lack originality. However, repeating such a repulsive argument does not make it any less repulsive or evil. Moreover, I note Singer and Tooley are hardly “famous” and their views have most definitely not accepted. (I note that there are only two reviews of Tooley's book on Amazon, and one reviewer called Tooley the “devil.”)

    I also note that this article goes far beyond others. Whereas Tooley only callled for the permissability of the murder of children up to age 3 months and whereas the Dutch “protocol” is to only kill babies in incurable pain, these authors want to legalize the killing of all children, including perfectly healthy children, up to the age where they can comprehend the meaning and value of their own life. (Please note that as a mother of child with health issues, I am totally freaked by the Dutch “protocol” and fear that my child would have been killed if he had been born in the Netherlands.) The authors don't put a specific age on when it would be illegal to stop killing children, and instead leave it up to the subjective standards of the killer. As a mother, though, I note that a typical children probably wouldn't reach “personhood” as defined by the authors until about age 4 years, and the mentally retarded would never become persons and could be killed at any age.

    The “deep disorder of the modern world” is not that nearly all people find infanticide to be shockingly repulsive and are willing to state this. Rather, the deep disorder or the modern world is that in the name of liberalism, anyone would espouse murder under the guise of eithics. Defending this work is reprehensible. Where is the board of this journal, and why has the Editor not been fired?

  203. I'll be happy to give you my name and contact information.  I will say nothing offensive, abusive or threatening.  Only that the slippery slope that abortion on demand created is what has led us to this – proposed infanticide.  You can put any kind of moniker you want on it, but what the authors propose is exactly that.  Hitlerian eugenics.  To defend their right to publish just because their subject matter is patently offensive and provoked understandable outrage is ludicrous.  This is ethics?  Your final statement is probably the most ridiculous.  Just because I use “logic” to make a case for something does not entitle it to be called “reasoned engagement”.  Fanatical is what the proposal is, not the reaction to it.
    Kevin Thomas

  204. You are in the clutches of evil and I pity you.  I will pray for you, that your heart will be healed of whatever pain you have and that the perfect light of love overcomes the hatred and ignorance to which you are enslaved.

  205. The claim of ‘logic’ being used to substantiate the argument this article put forwards is somewhat degrading towards the rest of humanity. 

    The “logic” only survives on the basis of assumptions that
    themselves have not been subjected to critical analysis…e.g. a life can only
    have value if the person has aims which he or she wishes to fulfill (I
    have paraphrased here).  No attempt has been made to justify why this is

    In essence, anyone can argue logically if they have artificially created the construct in which the argument takes place.  And this is what the authors of this article have done.

    The argument that needs to take place, is with regard to the presuppositions that have been used in this article.  How is the life of an individual to be valued for instance?

  206. I would call infanticide fairly “hostile and threatening”. Yet you are happy to see it discussed in your journal. 

    So why are you so uppity that some people want to express anger about it? You sound ridiculously morally righteous – and dare i say it, a little confused on your specialism – on one issue, while coming up with spurious justifications for far worse behaviour*.

    The fact that you wrote this makes me wonder if you can do your job properly at all.

    * based on even more spurious definitions of a “person”. If you take their totally artificial definition seriously, ought to make you  the laughing stock of the academic world.

  207. “Who will you accept this article from?”

    and on what grounds? Will perchance some pretext be found for not publishing…?

  208. To the Editors – Your justification of the Murder of the Innocents is a House of Cards, disturbingly reminiscent of the defense of the German regime of the mid twentieth century. The late NY Governor Al Smith said it best, when commenting on Hoover's “Chicken In Every Pot” – “No matter how you slice it, it still comes out baloney.”

  209.  Their sort are always comfortable safely discussing the murder of the helpless. They only balk when things shift and they realize that they might be the ones exterminated in order to improve the species.

  210. “What is disturbing is not the arguments in this paper nor its publication in an ethics journal. It is the hostile, abusive, threatening responses that it has elicited.”
    Arguing to kill a babies is not disturbing, but threatening someone who argues for it is disturbing?


    I'll tell you what is MOST disturbing. That you are an editor for a medical ethics journal.

  211. I am really not sure how a rational person is supposed to respond rationally to an argument for infanticide.  Are the authors and editors so detached from the concept of compassion that they cannot see the inhumanity?  

  212. What a shame that Savulescu is not participating here. He's a creative writer, and we would all benefit from further defense of his editorial decision.

    I can see a decent defense in favor of the publication of this piece. I just can't see it defended as a peer-reviewed, original piece of scholarship. It isn't. It's a provocation, and even a cursory reading of Savulescu's excellent authored articles would reveal that he must understand this. He is one of philosophy's great contemporary provocateurs, but he has always been careful to play that role in a reasoned, careful, and well-researched manner. In this episode he has fallen off, and his record should hence receive a small black mark for it. 

    I hope that the professional philosophers who are following this episode can turn it to good account. There is much to be discussed here about the state of philosophy's social role in the U.S.; about the contemporary nature — and the recent evolution — of the academic philosophy journal; and about the current quality of peer review itself, at least within philosophy.

  213. If killing babys for financial reasons to you are “liberal values” or “reasoned engagement” and it fits to “Medical Ethics” so you are pretty brain washed. And a second thing. This “ethical” “liberal” “scientists” who propose it – do they practise their “research” for public money? Do they receive money from tax payers? Surely I and most of society would see our money invested better to some poor children than to them. They failed completly and should in deed pay back all money that society put into their education.

  214. The lack of articles on firearm ownership in the Journal of Medical Ethics may be due to the simple fact that firearm ownership doesn’t really have anything to do with medical ethics.

    Just a brief search in the peer-reviewed literature reviews papers on gun ownership in a variety of academic journals: Epidemiology, J Public Health Policy, Crime and Justice, Law and Philosophy, Analysis etc. etc.

  215. As I remember form the classes of ethics, the only reason why should abortion be accepted is the fact that embryo does not feel the pain until the month of 3. 

    But, since we do not need any evidences here – do you remember Kant and his principle of universality; what would happen if this principle be accepted by all of us?

  216. On the concept of the 'moral status of person': what do the astronomers say?

    Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System (after Eris). From its discovery in 1930 until 2006, Pluto was classified as a planet, ninth planet from the Sun. 

    In the late 1970s, following the discovery of minor planet 2060 Charon in the outer Solar System and the recognition of Pluto's relatively low mass, its status as a major planet began to be questioned. In the late 20th and early 21st century, many objects similar to Pluto were discovered in the outer Solar System, notably the scattered disc object Eris in 2005, which is 27% more massive than Pluto.

    The XXVIth General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union was held from 14 August to 25 August 2006 in Prague, Czech Republic. Among the business before the Assembly was a proposal to adopt a formal definition of planet. The General Assembly lasted 12 days and had 2412 participants. 

    On 15 August the Assembly decided to restore to individual members the right to vote on scientific matters, which had been removed from them at the XXVth Assembly in 2003, as a planetary definition is a primarily scientific matter and every individual member of the Union attending the Assembly was eligible to vote. Voting on the definition took place at the Assembly plenary session during the afternoon. 

    During the General Assembly the text of the definition evolved from the initial proposal that would have created 12 known planets in the solar system to the final definition of planet that was passed on 24 August 2006 which reduced the number of planets in the solar system to eight. The voting procedure followed IAU's Statutes and Working Rules.

    According to this Resolution 5A of the XXVIth General Assembly, there are three main conditions for an object to be considered a 'planet':

    A planet is a celestial body that 

    (a) is in orbit around the Sun, 

    (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and 

    (c) has cleared the negibourhood around its orbit.

    Pluto fails to meet the third condition, since its mass is only 0.07 times that of the mass of the other objects in its orbit (Earth's mass, by contrast, is 1.7 million times the remaining mass in its own orbit). 

    The IAU further resolved that Pluto be classified in the simultaneously created dwarf planet category (that included also Ceres and Eris) and that it act as the prototype for the plutoid category of trans-Neptunian objects, in which it would be separately, but concurrently, classified. After the reclassification, Pluto was added to the list of minor planets and given the number 134340.

    Following the Closing Ceremony, parts of the scientific community did not agree with this ruling, especially the specific wording of the resolution, and criticized IAU's authority to name celestial bodies. In the ensuing public debate, a number of laypersons expressed (at times strong) disagreement with the vote. Another, less vocal, fraction of the scientific community backs the resolution, including the discoverer of the dwarf planet.

    NASA's New Horizons mission is scheduled to reach Pluto in 2015.

    (Source: Wikipedia. Under: Pluto; International Astronomical Union; IAU definition of planet).  

  217. If you ask me that might of been the hidden purpose of the paper , It is a logical argument to say that if  it is ok to abort a unborn child for any reason , then it is also logical to extend that to a child before it has any concept of loss of  future life after it is born . That said this brings to light the fact of Abortion . If it is deeply offensive to kill a child that is alive after birth  it follows logically it should also be just as offensive to kill a child that has not yet been born : going by the reaction of most people to the idea of killing live babies after they are born ..100% of the people who are anti killing babies after they are born should also be anti abortion because given that a unborn child is equal to a living baby it would be hypocritical to be otherwise

  218. “do you expect no one to hurl invective and threats at you?”

    It would be nice.  Its to be expected I suppose that when those of lessor intellect are unable to frame a well reasoned rebuttal that they resort to threats and violence instead.

  219. Come on.  People.  This its nothing to get upset about.

    Clearly, this is a joke.  A journal of this stature, focused on ethics no less, would never make such a poorly though-out, quasi-utilitarian argument for the murder of innocents.

    Do you really believe that credible scholars would argue for the removal of 'personhood' for very young children, simply because they are unable to discerne their 'aims.'

    Do you think a Journal of Medical Ethics would actually try to rationalize the murder of infants.  What kind of fool would stake their professional career trying to argue that the convenience of arbitrarily chosen 'actual' persons outweigh the right of other human beings to exist.

    They are not that silly.

    Surely they know that become that detached and intellectual in some sort of imagined seriousness would reveal that their ability to argue has exceeded their ability to reason or understand.

    And, that the publisher could argue, in all seriousness, that the outrage expressed to their advocacy of murder is worse than that advocacy iteself–well, you can't really believe they would really do that.  

    They would lose all respect they might have had outside their very tiny circle of academics focused on making a name for themselves in their field.  They would have pulled back the veil revealing the limitations of their tools.  After all, if they showed that one could use their version of 'ethics' for the murder of children because their care would be more difficult than the parents expected–and after all, they're not yet people anyway–well then people outside their field would understand how bankrupt of their work is.

    Pointless arguing and testing of right and wrong to justify their careers and credentials when the questions they argue serve very little purpose except to marginalize and dehumanize those that thing think are enough less worthwhile than they are that the can get away with it.

    That would make them monsters.  More importantly, it would make them useless monsters.  

    What is less useful than a monster who exists to steal the personhood of others because they don't measure up to a standard based on an argument, based on an assumption about what they think is accepted–which they know many, especially in the country very much do not accept.  

    So that would make them useless, disingenuous monsters.

    Tell me, do useless, disingenuous monsters have 'aims' enough to qualify as actual people?

  220.  uh?  Which country argued in a “polite and rational” manner that certain ethnic groups should be wiped out?

  221. Not really fair to blame the Nazis for a practice that was ancient when Sparta was doing it.

  222. 1st trimester’s are embryos, not fetuses. There are loads of differences between embryos and fetuses. The authors’ point was that there are relatively few differences between fetuses and newborns.  

    That’s true I suppose, from a certain perspective that I disagree with. However I have no problem with aborting embryos but do not approve of later abortions except for medical reasons. The difference is in the brain. A fetus has a working brain, with brainwaves. An embryo’s brain isn’t “booted up” yet. To me, that’s where the “personhood” line is drawn, and I grant that it’s an arbitrary line. But each of us has to draw it somewhere.

  223. Could you then define Christianity? I'm just curious as one of the ten commandments is 'thou shalt not kill, and as far as I'm aware there are no exceptions to that. Justify your position.

  224. The article was, as the publisher put it, rather typical with nothing really new to present. 

    What is interesting, however, is these comments. Seriously, I'm getting a kick out of some of them. 

    I would love to be in college right now assigned with doing a study quantifying the hysterical knee-jerk reactions I'm seeing in some of these comments. I'd seriously spend all week on it. 

    I wish I could poll individual questions to the commentators and quantize the results. If anyone cares to reply, I would love to know:

    1. Were your hands shaking when you typed the comment?2. How many times did the words 'Hitler', 'Nazi', and 'Liberal' pop in your mind while typing them?
    3. Were you frowning at your computer screen?
    4. Did the article make you cry?
    5. Did you re-post this article on your facebook circle with a sentence that matched “**********************liberals*************!!!!!!”? (* means wildcard)
    6. Do you personally believe that condoms are murder? (This question will help me categorize political/ideological world view)I appreciate any feedback you guys can offer me here.

    And I completely promise that I will not laugh at any of your responses.

  225. Nazi “medical ethicists” put forward similar arguments in the 20's and 30's. Their arguments were “peer reviewed” at the Nuremberg Doctor Trials and found wanting.

  226. The best arguement against something, is a poor arguement for something. At least I hope that is what the authors are trying to do here.

  227.  “he’s doing that by demeaning and demonizing those who seek to oppose his views.”

    He is doing no such thing.  He would welcome opposing views  BUT is it too much to ask that those opposing views be delivered WITHOUT threats of death, violence or otherwise full of vemon?

  228.  You are talking largely to a lay audience.  They are unable to see the dinstinction that you are making.

  229. Mr. Hunter, the extreme rarity of pro-gun articles in the medical literature , or studies which find any redeeming social value for firearms at all indicate your assumption to be incorrect.

    I ‘ve read them all, so I can tell you out of the hundreds of articles and studies printed in the medical literature since 1965, including JME, the number which did not actively cast firearms in a bad light was four. The number which were not fatally (and obviously) flawed from a scientific standpoint was six. None of those appeared in JME, by the way.

    That was also the view of the National Academy of Science review of the literature “FIREARMS AND VIOLENCE, A CRITICAL REVIEW”

    , published in 2004. Not a very pro-gun, pro-Conservative crowd on that committee either.

    So on the one hand we have JME happy to print a paean to infanticide,  on the other the ethics of self defense and its impact on medicine doesn’t get a look-in, science be damned. Adding insult to injury editor Julian Savulescu claims any voiced raised against this is “fanatical opposition to any kind of reasoned engagement”.

    Sure it is.

    My question to you, to Julian Savulescu  and to the authors is this: Do you -really- want to live in a country where self defense is a criminal act and infanticide/euthanasia are state-sponsored services?

    If yes, be prepared for some more strong language, I’d say.

  230. Dr. Timothy Williams, you are far too kind. Consider how these “scholars” and “philosophers” (the worst sort of sophists) have no capacity for self-reflection and no sense that they are exactly what Weber meant when he spoke of “Specialist without spirit, sensualists
    without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of
    humanity (Menschentums) never before achieved” [Weber
    1904-05/1992, 182: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism].

    Or Nietzsche in the Genealogy of Morals, “The 'contemplative ones' are a hundred times worse. I know nothing that
    creates so much disgust as such an objective armchair historian, such a
    sweet-smelling man luxuriating in history, half cleric, half satyr, with
    perfume by Renan, who reveals at once in the high falsetto of his
    approval what he lacks, where is he deficient, where in his case the
    fates have wielded their dreadful shears with, alas, so much surgical

    Truly hollow men–rather, a mockery of human—headpiece filled with straw, who confuse their gaseous eructations for the voice of G-d.  Imagine them on a Friday evening, sipping their Chardonnay and talking in low tones about their “thoughts” as though they were a priesthood.

    Moral degenerates merely.

  231. And if the mothers of these “scientists” had aborted them? Nazis, indecent, murderers!!

  232. First, we now have a new phrase, “after-birth abortion”. As “abortion” already means killing the fetus while still in the uterus, “after-birth” contradicts that meaning. So the new phrase is meaningless.

    Second, we had an old word that was perfectly descriptive: “infanticide”.

    Why introduce the new term? Obviously, to disguise the hideous, clinical attempt to hide the reality of what is being proposed.

    Either have the courage of your convictions and call the act what it is, or give up the attempt to justify the action. Renaming it only emphasizes that the promoters are FULLY aware of the HORROR of what they are proposing, but wish to try to hide that while advancing it.

    An analogous case is Nazis calling their genocide camps “concentration camps”. And bring that up deliberately, for those proposing “after-birth abortion” are as evil as the Nazis.

    Academic freedom does NOT include the freedom from criticism or even condemnation, so those being criticized or condemned should not whine about it. And if they advocate killing someone, even vociferous condemnation is NOTHING compared to killing.

  233. Well, you can provide reasons that undermine the premises of the argument or maybe provide reasons why the conclusion doesn't follow from the premises. That's usually how arguments work. Even if they are about baby killing.

  234. We should not be referring to it as “abortion” at all. Abortion refers to the act of aborting a pregnancy. Pregnancy is over once the baby is born. People are born with the inalienable right to life. Born. Plus, who are they to say that newborns lack all of those understandings? We understand very little about newborns as a society. It is our duty to protect and nurture them.

  235. I read this was disgusted by this I commented earlier then today it hit me. I am a Mother, I have a Vocation not a job. These people obviously went to school and have a job but I have a Vocation that trumps a job. I am a Mother I have Faith and Love, along with compassion. I will fight for my child, beside my child and I will always be there for my child because I am a Mother. I pity these people they only have a job without compassion or faith or love because if you have any of these emotions you could not write a paper bringing up these themes.

  236. how do you explain that in the old testament god quite often in sites people to kill in his name ?

  237. It's true that the violent responses to your publication that you cite reflect a disorder. I find them disturbing. At the same time I find this disturbing: “However, the goal of the Journal of Medical Ethics is not to present the Truth or promote some one moral view. It is to present well reasoned argument based on widely accepted premises.” If the BMJ motto is “Helping Doctors Make Better Decisions,” can you be sure that “well reasoned argument” without Truth will help doctors? One of the essays taught in rhetoric classes is Swift's “A Modest Proposal”–the modest proposal of eating babies being a solution to Ireland's problems (at that time) of poverty and famine. Swift's use of logic and reason is exemplary for teaching students how to construct arguments, yet it also shows the dangers of rhetoric. Luckily, this well-reasoning essayist was being satirical. It is scary that the authors and publishers of this medical ethics essay, on the other hand, are dead serious about their argument.

  238. I agree!!!!! Being fanatical about the Truth is the premise of real science! Interesting that the goal of the journal is NOT to present the TRUTH. No God – no moral compass – therefore nothing is right or wrong therefore all that matters is power.

  239. People are sick! I dont see how you could murder a baby nobody would kill an old person because they wear dipars and can only have liquids!!!!!

  240. There *IS* a difference, but I’m willing to bet it is ineffable — you can make some vague, and actually useful generalisations, but you cannot say: Yesterday this person was a child, today he is an adolescent. You cannot say: Yesterday he was an adolescent, today he is an adult. Someone is even being very imprecise when the minute or hour of birth is given…labor can take 8 (difficult) hours!

    While I’m at it, what exactly is the difference between an ovum and a sperm, one in a man, the other in a woman, and a fetus?  The same: time and growth and development (and luck).

    Yet you would have no qualms in keeping that sperm separated from any ovum you might carry (and I would not criticise you for it), but both of us would be upset if someone killed either of us as adults, and condemn the act as morally wrong.

    Where, along the long, continuous trajectory between the two states, should it become wrong to prevent things from continuing to their logical conclusion?  Why shouldn’t it be immoral for you or me not to take every possible opportunity to fertilize an egg?  

  241. Doesn’t that rather misunderstand what philosophy is?  I don’t recognise it as “arguing for your own personal opinion” – speaking personally, I’ve found myself forced to revise my opinions several times while trying to present an argument in defence of them.  To that extent, philosophy is no different from bench science: you start with a hypothesis, which you then try to demonstrate; and if the demonstration fails, you reconsider the hypothesis.

    Nor am I sure why references would improve things: wouldn’t that just replace genuine philosophy with a set of appeals to authority?

  242. I’ve never read 1984, because that was the film.  Perhaps you mean Nineteen Eighty-Four – in which case, of course I’ve read it.

    (Apologies if this sounds bad-tempered and pendantic.  But there is no thought-policing here.)

  243. The argument of this paper is not logical. It is the same as saying that John writes essays on ethics. He never dreams of having them published and only intends to show them to a few friends. One of those friends named Tim decides that since John never had any goals and never knew the value that publication would have that he can plagarize the work and send it in to your magazine since he has published before and knows the value therefore having the right to publication. John never finds out about it and is never truly affected to his knowledge. Tim is only helped in this scenario.

    Yet, that is plagarism. Plagarism is plagarism. Murder is murder. Just because John doesn't know the value of his paper, does not mean this value can be taken from him. The paper is John's to either squander or to publish. In no case should this right be taken from him and given to Tim regardless of what John values or knows.

    But, if Hitler could justify the Holocaust (which killed over 5 million), it is no surprise that “ethicists” can justify genocide through abortion/infanticide (which has killed 35 million)

  244. The reason why no journal aims to present the truth is that we don’t know it.  We try, in any discipline, to get closer to the truth by presenting arguments.  Sometimes those arguments succeed, sometimes they don’t.

    The idea that anyone without god has no moral sense is absurd, though.

  245. Julian Savulescu, the reaction of the lay people to this topic would make a FASCINATING research case study.  I have spent a few entralling hours reading the comments and its a gold mine waiting to be researched.

  246. congratulations on your decision to publish a well-reasoned paper. Though I strongly disagree with the propositions put forward, I'm appalled at the hate mail directed to you and the authors. I guess it does demonstrate the power of ideas. Merely putting forward an idea for debate and discussion becomes truly threatening to many people. They are unable to respond in a rational manner. They are forced to resort to threats and insults.

  247. Very well summarized. As a Pediatrician I have seen many of the children these authors would have felt were candidates for “after birth murder “.  The great majority of these kids, while placing a burden on the family and society, were indeed also capable of eliciting the most noble of human feelings in their caretakers, and indeed were able to give some measure of joy to these parents.  

    If we allowed this practice of after birth abortion at what point would we draw the line ? Would a 2 year old diagnosed with Autism qualify ? How about a young  mother who had a stroke after childbirth ? How many children would have been murdered under this practice in the 1940’s and 1950’s because they were afflicted by polio ?  Who would have decided and using which set of criteria ?

    Why don’t these great “thinkers”, tackle the real issue and figure out how to instill a sense of responsibility upon the hedonistic crowd and avoid the “unwanted pregnancies” to begin with ?

  248. In this case I think the professionals of medical ethic have stepped into the area where other professionals traditionally have more to say. It is culturally, not medically, defined when an individual gains human value and integrity. So, to not to become a target of an outrage, please, leave these questions to such experts as rabbis, mullahs and priests. (Scientific reference: Berger & Luckmann: Social Construction of Reality.)

  249. Just to make sure about your defense of free speech: if you were an editor of a political journal, would you also defend the right to publish neonazi ideas? Because it all comes down to the reader´s point of view, isn´t it?

  250. Dear RitaJoseph,
    Thank you so much for the excellent work you did as a reviewer. It clearly shows that this paper was not properly reviewed before its publication which, to me, as an author, a reviewer and a reader is much more offensive and harmful to science than the “freedom of academic speech”. I don’t see the contribution of this paper to science and, after read it, I seriously doubt the scientifc background of the authors since all the assumptions presented are wrong!!! Starting from the biology, passing to the biochemistry and finishing in the biomedical aspects, all the hypothesis are wrong!! The paper is only a sterile mental exercise only published due to the personal need of the editor to feed its own ego by showing the power to create controversy, regardless the doors it opens…. I would expect a strong and firm answer from the Scientific Commitee of the Journal of Medical Ethics regarding this topic.  

  251. Is it really that simple? Neonazi ideas rely – as far as I can see – on some combination of deeply flawed premises and deeply flawed argumentation. The paper here appears to be slightly different: its premises, though not universally accepted, are at least within the general area that those familiar with the field would accept as plausible; and what is done with those premises is also not wildly unusual.
    This is not to say that the paper's flawless – it's quite possible that there're argumentative mis-steps or things that have been ignored. I don't doubt that there'll be a rash of rebuttals in the journals over the next year or so. (It genuinely does take that long to publish, sadly.)
    However, the point I'm trying to make is that I think that there is a qualitative difference between a paper like this that reaches what most would hold to be a counterintuitive (and perhaps unacceptable) conclusion based on premises that are at least reasonable, and a neonazi article, which would in all likelihood be nuts and intellectually hopeless from the start.

  252.  I don't disagree with the spirit of your response necessarily but it is worth mentioning that the Groningen Protocol is neither mandatory nor explicitly _legal_. The termination of a child can only be carried out with the express request of parents after multiple concurring examinations by independent specialists and each instance is recorded and submitted to the relevant regulatory authority and to the office of the jurisdiction's prosecutor.

  253. By the same logic put forth in the article (which I downloaded and read), the mentally retards could be killed post-natally. And anyone else we deem to confer the status of non-personhood, likewise, is a candidate for termination. Later, this will expand to include the ugly (as the article suggests in the discussion of TCS), the bullied by society, those afflicted with pediatric cancer, those on welfare, drug addicts, homosexuals and anyone we deem a pathology. Perhaps the Nazis was simply “misunderstood” and just ahead of their time–who knew?

  254. I would like to see the authors and editors of these theories put them into practice. It's all fun and games up there in the ivory tower.  But now hold a newborn in your hands and end its life with your own vicious hands. Stop the squirming and beating of blood, then see if you can still sleep at night. 

  255. Not so: G&M are fairly clear that it's personhood that does the work here, and that term is generally understood to have a particular meaning in the literature: whatever vagueness there might be about its meaning at the margin, it certainly isn't open to the kind of arbitrary application that worries you here. Your slippery-slope argument doesn't really apply.

  256. Let's call after birth abortion what it really is-murder
    Let's call this “philosophical discussion” what it really is-eugenics
    Individual rights, our consciousness do not matter to collectivistic philosophy. It is about the power of the group to decide “who is of value”. It is not about nurturing human potential-it is about the power granted by we the people to  a group of experts decide what will be of value.

  257. This is a disgrace of an academic journal. It is otherwise arguable that this constitutes incitement to murder. It is criminally culpable misuse of language to
    call infanticide after-birth or post-natal abortion. Abortion in this context is the
    termination of a pregnancy. Infanticide is
    not the termination of a pregnancy. One cannot terminate a process
    that has come to fruition. [Vallicella]

     It constitutes the reckless intention that others engage in murder by conflating it with legal surgical abortion. It would only be for a prosecution to show the authors could suspect a women for reasons of post natal depression or no, would act to kill “where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk.”

    “How in hell do you argue in such a way as to supply fundamental moral intuitions to blithering moral idiots? If a person can’t see that slitting an infant’s throat is a Bad Thing, what possible method of moral suasion can be used to make a moral imbecile–and particularly a highly educated moral imbecile–capable of the sense God gave a goose? I sometimes begin to suspect that the violence of the Old Testament was sometimes the only language fallen man could understand and that treatises on ethics for cretins who hurled babies into the flames were not as educational as the siege, famine, slaughter and exile God in fact permitted in his providence.We are a civilization facing an awful reckoning.” [Shea]

  258. It's time to rethink abortion at any time. Before or after birth is murder defenseless.

  259. Perhaps Giubilini and Minerva should also have cited to Jonathan Swift (1729), who “supports” their argument and adds some additional benefits to it with the practical use of infants' remains.  Their piece reads like satire.  If that were its intent, it would be effective.  The fact that it is being promoted seriously as an academic, peer-review quality work illustrates the staggering fall of academia both intellectually and morally.  I suggest that Giubilini and Minerva's piece, at best, should be considered “morally irrelevant” and at worst they should be mindful their arguments are in keeping, intellectually, with certain Lebensunwertes Leben proponents, circa 1920 – 1940s, Germany.  Be mindful of the company you keep.

  260. “Academic freedom does NOT include the freedom from criticism or even condemnation,” – Quite right, but it would have been nice for people to actually read the paper before they started foaming at the mouth.

  261. Just to make sure we´re moving on a common ethical ground here: I do not support either neonazi ideas or infanticide for a lot of reasons, including religious ones. Yes, I´m also influenced by religion, like the vast majority of our modern societies.
    I´m sorry, but I fail to see why the defense of infanticide is intellectually superior than neonazi ideas, as the first were also partially defended by the second (consider those medical practices of the well known nazi doctors of the 30´s and 40´s). What you call reasonable premises I call missing knowledge of history, evolution and even ethics.
    At this rate, somewhen in the future all births will be judged by a “specimen comittee” about who deserves and who doesn´t deserve to live. The details about the criteria or up to which age a decision can be made, etc., will be secondary. I doubt that even “post-modern evolutionists” would go there.
    And to think that there were a time when doctors´ first concern was the defense of life. Are we really evolving as a society?

  262. Well, I'd like to think we could take it as read that Nazi ideas don't take a lot of vanquishing, and that we can take it as read that they're repugnant and indefensible.

    What that tells us about this paper is less clear.  Even if it turns out to be mistaken, then I don't think that we can just help ourselves to that conclusion; the premises from which this paper is built are massively different from those that underpin any notional neonazi claims.  And in that case, I think it ought to be possible to demarcate the two fairly easily.  Again, this doesn't amount to a defence of the Giubilini and Minerva paper – just to a claim that rebuttals will take a bit more work than would rebuttals of neonazi claims.

    Maybe you don't agree with that.  I suspect not.  But even so, I think that it ought to be easier to agree with the proposition that, if the paper is mistaken, then it's still best to see it standing or falling on its own merits.  I don't think that argumenta ad Hitlerum are the best strategy here, for all kinds of reasons.

    (Incidentally, who are the “post-modern evolutionists” of which you speak?  I see nothing PoMo in G&M's paper, nor anything to do with evolution…)

  263.  Wasn’t the argument that the authors were making focused on the affect a living child would have on the parents?  I do not  think this argument would affect their opinion since they obviously have no concern about the physical or emotional well being of the child at birth much less being worried about their thoughts and feelings at a later date.To them, a human baby has no more value than a goldfish.  If it is inconvenient or imperfect (to them as this is a personal perception) then it should be the parent’s right dispose of it.  Maybe they should, as ethicists, research and write about the affect narcissism has on individuals, families and society as a whole.  Planet Earth seems to be infected with this distasteful mental illness.

  264. This had occurred to me, as well.

    Even if we allow for the sake of the argument that the newborn has no right to live, it doesn’t follow that there’s nothing to say about the attitudes of the parents who would too-willingly have it dead.

    You could even go a bit further: let’s allow that the newborn has no right to live, and there are situations in which its death would be a good thing. (Again, I’m setting this up as an aunt sally for the sake of the argument.) Even in that case, there might be other cases in which the parents ought not to reach that conclusion, notwithstanding the lack of rights held by the newborn.

    If this is right, you could grant Giubilini and Minerva quite a lot of their argument; it wouldn’t follow that infanticide was OK.

    (On this note, Kant has some interesting things to say about the wanton destruction of inanimate nature. He isn’t worried about preserving nature per se; but he is worried about the wantonness of the person doing the destroying. Similar concerns might apply here.)

  265. The worst in this paper is not the moral issue of infanticide. But the plagiarism. They should have cited Himmler and Mengele as the source of several passages on their work. Stealing other's ideas and publishing them as novel and original is simply disgusting.
    I think that Nazi Parties all over the world should unite themselves in demanding credit for those ideas that are being posted as original thought by Giubilini and Minerva.

  266. There is one fundamental mistake philosophers do, and that is to place an estimation of value on a concept, such as life.

    To do that they treat a human
    being as the sum of his past experiences, length of life, or current medical status. 

    This ignores knowledge from several other scientific fields, and even common sense. And is not just arrogant, it is always wrong. 

  267. So threatening or suggesting violence in an intellectual manner is ok?  What do you think the original paper did?  Do you think the perpetrators of such an act will gently love the babies to death?  If a rap musician wrote a song full of colorful adjectives and adverbs; inciting their listeners to kill all white babies in the maternity wards because, in their opinion, there are too many of them etc……, there would be, rightfully so, outrage and their song would most likely be banned. The content is the same.  The package is the only difference.  It is foolish to not listen to the truth because of an elitist sense of propriety.  I would rather have an intact moral conscience, good common sense and at least some sense of decency, than a college degree and impressive intellectual communication skills.   

  268. Disgusting. You call yourselves human for defending murder of an innocent baby. May God have mercy on your souls.

  269. Regina Coeli: “This is a disgrace of an academic journal.”

    This annoying propaganda piece, that would shame a poorly-photocopied student agitprop leaflet, certainly is.  Using the inane rantings of the random commenters to a right-wing “shock jock's” vanity news site proves … get this: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING OF ANY VALUE!  Holy crap, your case must be *really* weak if you have to resort to such witless pseudo-intellectual tactics. 

    “The West” is dead and we are all living on it's rotting corpse if the utter intellectual and moral poverty exemplified by the “BMJ Group” and the wretched authors of this current controversy are anything to go by.  This is “moral philosophy” for people who like to tweet but don't like to think. 

    “Hey guys, all we're are saying is that some babies need to be killed and ppl are being mean to us :_( Random nutters from the Internets, oh and the BNP and the TALIBAN and yeah that GEORGE W BUSH dude and HITLER'S ANGRY GHOST and THE MASTER OUT OF DR WHO and 10,000 OF SATAN'S VILEST IMPS and even SIMON COWELL violently disagree with us, point proven HATERZ! :o)”

  270. Dear Julian
    I wrote to express my complete abhorrence at this article.

    Since when did “liberal values” include killing newborn children?

    The “deep disorder of the modern world” is shown far more in your decision to publish this article than in the responses to it.

    I have no hesitation in registering my opposition to this appalling piece of writing.

    Wake up!


    David Baker

  271. They were not very happy in the choice of the article, if it had chosen something as condoms, perhaps they had a better reception, but for the contrary their name wouldn't have been knowed.

    In my point of view they must concentrate forces in something more important for society and the world other than killing their owns.

    However and thinking about science and perhaps following the logic of  Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, why not kill the age people who are no more contributing for society?

    I hope that people in the future, people linked to science could be more linked to humanity, this kind of people tends to think in things that are only an related to egocentric society.

    By the way there are condoms everywhere to prevent unwanted childs… protect your future and you will not be an killer.

    Guilherme Ribeiro

  272. It is the editor mistake to conclude that the paper has academic value.If this paper has that,than all this comments have academic value because you have dumped the bar of minimum academic quality.

  273. Lets talk about etics of killing children in Journal of Medical Ethics.Lets ask some real academicians throught prisons around the globe….Wow…you people havn't real job to do,when you still question Right to life.I thinked that we are beyond that long time ago.By the way,reactions are because your low academic standard and is your responsibility to accept that part too.When you make sensationalistic mockery of academic quality,than accept the comments to be “academic” by same standard what you apply editing the jurnal…But who give a dam for Jurnal with so low academic standards anyway…exept some extremists who wish editor to have been a subject of After-Birth Abortion.

  274. No Sir, this is not scienee, this is Bio-Politics from an catholic girl from Italy. We should read Foucault and Judith Butler to understand this criminal thinking.

  275. Julian,

    I think from the vast majority of responses here and elsewhere, it is clear that you are in the wrong. Your journal is in the wrong. The authors are in the wrong. Please retract the article and offer an apology.

  276. That’s not the point, JH, even if it were true. Would Marx have expected Stalin to destroy millions of lives for the ‘communist cause’ as he did? It’s the sowing of the idea which as much anathema as those who pervert it.

    The Orwellian use of English to obscure evil with terminology more reasonable than murder or killing for convenience is what shocks people. Now that abortion is, sadly, accepted as more than a last resort which saves the threatened life of the mother and has become a mere regulated medical procedure available as easily as a prescription for sleeping pills, changing infanticide into post-birth abortion is just a progression towards an organised death cult inspired by so-called academics with nothing better to do than spout philosophical inanities.

    The danger has always been that some murderous regime will take their ill-concieved, witless logic seriously.

  277. No, you are not the only one.  I came across the link to the article, the Journal, and this flimsy defense, in a conservative online publication.  My first assumption was that the conservative writer was either inflaming readers with a distorted review of the Journal’s article, or inflating someone’s personal publication to the status of scientific journal.  

    I decided to research the source and read the article for myself. After reading the Abstract, I had the same opinion as you.  I thought this must be satire.  I recognized the similarities to Dr. Jonathan Swift’s, “A Modest Proposal”, as did Eric Robert Meckley above.  Any thinking people capable of writing even this poorly-reasoned position must be attempting expose the fallacy of valuing one life over another by taking this extreme view.

    I was horrified and sickened to discover this was not satire.  And even more horrified to read the Journal’s defense of publication.  I had hoped they were publishing it only to highlight the dangers of the writers’ views.  

    The only value I see remaining in this article and its distribution is the potential that pro-choice advocates and defenders may re-examine their own personal beliefs based on the atrocities supported by the authors.

  278. Thank you for finally bringing to light what many believed woud be the ultimate outcome of legalized abortion. You've formally started us down the proverbial “slippery slope.”  Next in line: the disabled, then the elderly, then the “non-productive class”….it will all be consistent with “liberal values”, which to many simply means “no values at all.” Very liberal, indeed.

  279. What is astounding is
    Savulescu does NOT think the virulent responses to the article's publication and authors are reasonable and normal.

  280. Their first conclusion is correct: The non born is as person as the born. But the second conclusion is silly: As abortion is accepted, we should accept the infanticide. The right conclusion is: As we don't accept the infanticide, we should never accept the abortion. This debate is good because it will make people understand that abortion is a horrible murder!!!!!

  281. What about the mother's bodily integrity? I can see how your argument would work if we didn't have to factor that in; but it's really hard to see how we can not do so. Doesn't that make a difference in respect of abortion, even if you're right on infanticide?

  282. No. It is the moral philosophy of people who have retained their humanity, who can see 'slitting a baby's throat' is a Bad Thing' it is the working moral philosophy of those not persuaded to educate themselves into barbarism as court philosophers for the liberal establishment. For those who see 1000x faster than these moral imbeciles the empty blandishments of Power – and measure the quality of their souls according to the Just judge rather than incestuous peer review and popular positivism.

  283. Infanticide for purely trivial reasons?  Even the Spartans didn't go that far.

    That the focus is entirely on the mother reeks of Feminist overreach, the woman as god.  Not that we should ever see argued that the father may have an input.

    Yet these same philosophers would likely condemn 'after birth abortion' of disobedient children that is normal in other cultures.

    Homicide can be justified, but only in an extreme circumstance.  What is proposed is putrid. 

  284. One of these authors is female and she is worried for her life, due to the threats she as received.  Evidently, being aware of the “harm” that might come to her due to these death threats is causing her stress.  I wonder how she responds to the fact that preborn human babies tend to draw back from medical tools and instruments used during an abortion procedure.  Do you think they are anticipating harm???  And wouldn’t that make them human or “people”?  Or does that make her less human or less than a “person”?

  285. Julian Savulescu. You lied. In Brazil there is not infanticide. Why you need to invent facts, psychopath?There is an Indian village that does this, but they are deep in the Amazon rainforest. This only proves thatyou know nothing about Brazil and its people. You're a liar if to prove a thesis killer wraps up a peaceful people who will never accept nonsense like this. People like you is what should be aborted at birth …

  286. I could not beleive this response when's couldn't even finish reading it because I thought I was going to be sick. The fact that your even trying to defend those completely disgusting “theories” is offensive to the very core of my soul. How can you argue that this has any moral value at all? It is murder plain and simple. The fact that you are trying to promote depopulation is as obvious as night and day. I'm not even going to go into details because I'm sure that deep down in your soul you know this is completely wrong and goes against everything humanity stands for. However if you do not then I feel sorry for you because you are truly a lost soul who has lost touch with humanity, I am no Christian, but may God have mercy on your poor soul.

  287. In the very “logic of morals,” a “wrongful” act is that which no one ought to do, that anyone may be rightly forbidden from doing.  
    If we are talking about the taking of innocent life, a killing without justification, then no one suffers a wrong, or the deprivation of his rights, when he is restrained from carrying out a wrongful act.  As Aquinas – and Lincoln – taught, we cannot coherently claim a “right to do a wrong.”    
    We cannot be said to be suffering the wrong of “involuntary servitude” or any wrongful denial of our liberties, if we are reminded that we are of course obliged not to destroy a life we have no justification in taking.   
    People seem curiously to forget that even the Supreme Court never established as the ground of its holding in Roe a sovereign right of a woman over her own body.  For the Court acknowledged that legislatures could insist that abortions take place only in a licensed clinic or hospital for the sake of safety.  
    But with that move the Court ruled out the argument of the woman who might say:  “I can use an unlicensed abortionist for far less money, and I should be the sole judge of the risks I’m willing to take with my own body.” [Arkes]

  288. If you published this paper with the intent of contributing to the freedom of academic debate, then why did you make it freely available on the internet, where non-academics who do not have your understanding of what academic debate entails and how logic in philosophy works, can access it and comment on it? That move pushed the debate out of academia and into the popular press, where it has and will garner the kinds of comments you denigrate in your response. Instead of raising meaningful discussion about the current academic definition of what it means to be human and 'worthy' of life, and the consequences of that definition for fetuses, newborns, families and society, you have performed the literary equivalent of chumming the waters, with the inevitable bloody consequences.

  289. If I am a fanatic because I am appalled by the suggestion that certain human beings are not “actual people” for whatever reason, then call me a fanatic.  If I am exhibiting “extreme opposition” to this “reasoned” engagement, so be it. I'd rather be that than lumped into the same category as you “brilliant academics.”  And one other thing, I have seen some very well written, logical responses here that don't stoop to “abuse.”  I would bet that you received innumerable responses just like these after publishing the article, but you cherry-picked the ones that would make the biggest impact in your favor, and support your complaint that “proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.”  Whatever.

  290. Right off the bat, let me say I am a liberal, and have undergrad & post-grad degrees in literature and psychology. I come across contentious papers and studies all the time, so dealing with controversial issues is not something I shy away from.

    The only thing I could think of while reading the “paper” you published was that it was a lost chapter from Mein Kampf. Let's stop being pretentious and stubborn for a moment…you know as well as I do, just because something can, in principle, be argued, does not mean it is logical, has relevance or deserves consideration. This so-called paper you attempt to defend is beyond simplistic, poorly
    constructed and flawed on every imaginable level. It might qualify, at
    best, as the sub-standard work of students whose choice of subject would
    alarm professors and staff at any responsible learning institution.

    Given the extremely difficult, emotionally charged and significant
    issues surrounding abortion at the embryo stage, which issues become
    even more difficult when dealing with a fetus, anyone suggesting what
    boils down to the murder of a newborn is doing it simply for the sake of
    making headlines with a published paper. You know it, the authors know
    it, we all know it. How pathetic you would find what basically boils
    down to tabloid trash posing as research an acceptable way to attract
    attention to the Journal of Medical Ethics.

    An attempt at stirring controversy for its own sake speaks so poorly of academia, and it does such a tremendous disservice to legitimate and innovative work/research. You criticize your critics, and yet you knew very well what kind of reactions you would get. If you are so inexperienced and naive as to claim innocence, you should not be in the position you are in.

    Anyway, I would like to remind you that the duty of academics and researchers is to educate, to contribute something positive and useful, with sensitivity and compassion, especially when it comes to the incredibly difficult issues that women, parents, and caregivers in the medical profession face. Please consider this, and consider abandoning the “free-speech” cliche to excuse poor, irrelevant work that serves only to create a scandal. 

  291. Classic hypocrisy from the Editor with his concerns about “openly racist language”. Let's look at the language used in the article that devalues the lives of people with Down syndrome – referring to them as a disease, that they can be unbearable burdens, that they are not equal to normal child and their lives are not worth living. This is hate language and has no place in civilized society. It is completely absent of any moral or ethical basis.

    If Mr Savulescu or his un-ethicists come to New Zealand and repeat hate language towards the Down syndrome I promise that you will have an appropriate response.

  292. Adopting the reasoning put forward by the authors of this indulgent and highly simplistic attempt at “philosophy”, BMJ should now delete this article after its decision to publish it on the basis that it would clearly be in the best interests of the Journal, and society as a whole.

  293. Julian:
    In your editorial, you state, “What is disturbing is not the arguments in this paper nor its publication in an ethics journal. It is the hostile, abusive, threatening responses that it has elicited. More than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.”

    You appear to be on the side of “proper academic discussion and freedom.”  What, in your opinion, would constitute improper academic discussion?  Are all topics, no matter how abhorrent to society in general, free to present and discuss under the banner of academia?  Do not academics have a responsibility to society in general to erect and maintain ethical and moral barriers to prevent society from degenerating into mass insanity, or has academia become the realm of those who have personally degenerated and espouse anti-social, psychopathic, phantasmagorical aberrations? 

    What are these “values” of a liberal society that you are striving to protect?  Has liberalism descended into a philosophy akin to barbarism, where the only person that matters is oneself?  You advocate “discussion” of infanticide on an ethical basis, and yet fail to come to grips with the emotionally charged reaction by people who are displaying their societal, and biological, guided ethics against killing of innocents.

    When then do those deemed “morally irrelevant” become morally relevant?  When they become of school age?  When they become tax-payers?  When?

    When does a “potential” person graduate to becoming a real person?

    Be careful in your answers, Julian, for that is a slippery slope on which you and the two authors attempt to tread.  For if today, it is acceptable to terminate infants, tomorrow, it may become the fate of senior citizens, and who knows, Julian, perhaps if the academia continue to espouse such unethical and immoral “solutions”, it may become academia itself that finds itself at risk.

    As others have pointed out, it was less than a century ago that eugenics and racial hatred under a popularly elected government lead to the “Final Solution”.  Yes, in case your British upbringing and education failed you and didn't cover it, Adolph Hitler was elected to office by the citizens of Germany.

  294. Agreed.  The problem is not that the godless have no moral compass.  Moral compasses are a dime a dozen.  Rather the problem of the godless is that their system lacks a moral magnetic field by which moral compasses may be properly directed.  Therefore the godless point their moral compasses in every which direction to suit themselves.

  295. Lets just call them humans. To call murder ‘inhuman’ is just plain wrong. As we’re the only animal with the capability of rational thought, we’re the only animal capable of murder. If you look at any point in history, people kill each other all the time. Murder is all too human.

  296.  Kevin you display gross ignorance and insensitivity. The Judeo/Christian moral code underpins our Wesrern Civilisation. No amount of postmodern claptrap can deny it. It claims not sole right to the moral cause as the sense of right and wrong, law and justice is written in our very beings as humans. It just happens that the Enlightenment age has failed in its task of educating the badness out of us. This is because when the school closed for the day all the enlightened teachers set on their course of being liberated in breaking down moral codes. In the later 19th C and the 20th C they lived by the social Darwinist code of “survival of the fittest” and saw us slaughter each other in two world wars. Mid to late 20th C saw “if it feels good do it” reign with the result of general society being consumer materialists screwed stupid by the free marketeers. Well done.   

  297. I'm sorry, but you are wrong. One should be able to present any argument for anything in a well written and well argued manner, without being threatened.

    People who disagree should of course respond in a well written and well argued manner, and not with violence.  Even if they consider what they're arguing against vile, evil, and so forth.  If you cannot meet evil arguments with good, step aside and let someone capable of doing so do so.  If you choose to attack evil arguments with violence instead of good arguments – you'll lose support.  Do you want to lose the support of good?

  298. WOW.  I'm amazed at how disturbed you actually are… 

    An argument has been presented, and you – instead of attacking the argument – attacks the person presenting the argument.  And you see nothing wrong with that?  I'm amazed.

    But it seems very typical in these modern times.  It seems like it's more popular to attack the person instead of the argument.  I'm not sure why such a decline in enlightenment has started taking place, but I'm sure as hell it has something to do with people claiming to be 'moral'.  It seems to me that people who claim to be 'moral' in reality just want a free pass to attack people for being 'immoral' instead of having to go through the trouble of making coherent arguments.

    I find the argument you present to be disturbing.  You attack the people instead of the argument.  That is a sign of a disturbed mind.

  299. What a shame it must be to have the rabble calling attention to the emperor's fine new [in fact, lack of] clothing.

  300. It’s not at all clear that the Judeo-Christian code underpins Western civilisation. There’s a couple of reasons for this. First, there’re plenty of cultures that are not Judeo-Christian and yet which have at least broadly similar moral outlooks. Second, the Western tradition borrows heavily from ancient Greece; Aristotle certainly wasn’t a Christian or a Jew, for example. Third, there’re large elements of Biblical moral commandments that are conveniently ignored even by self-proclaimed Biblical moralists: we would no longer think it acceptable to execute a raped woman if she didn’t protest loudly enough (Deut 22: 23-4), or force a woman to marry the man who raped her (Deut 22:28-9); we would no longer think that children should be killed for disobeying their parents (Lev 20:9); we no longer think it heinous to wear clothing of more than one cloth (Lev 19:9). It’s a mark of civilisation that we don’t stone people for being gay (Lev 20:13). I could go on.

    But suppose the J/C “moral code” – whatever that turns out to be – is at the basis of a given culture: so what? Why should that mean it’s immune from scrutiny, or that we have to keep it central? If a cultural tradition is worth keeping, then there has to be more to it than the mere fact that it’s a tradition, doesn’t there? It must have something to recommend it other than familiarity. So why not cut straight to that, and say that if certain things are obligatory or forbidden, they are so irrespective of the culture or history?

    In other words, why not ask questions, and test the boundaries? Jesus questioned and overturned a few rules as well, after all.

  301. Nope, it was my first reaction too. 

    And then I see the comments from mad men and women who mostly remind me of religious fanatics screaming KILL THE INFIDELS.

    The comments from various posters on this article are deeply disturbing.

  302. The arguments presented, in fact, are largely not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world

  303. Ok Julian it's a shame that opponents of the article in question stoop to such a hateful remarks
    What defies logic though is the idea that polite argument in support of murder is OK but angry rhetoric should be disallowed..
    You seem more worried that people were horrified by the lunatic arguments of the Authors than the arguments themselves which are actually far more dangerous.
    What always amazes me is the utterly schizophrenic position we take regarding the child in the womb…it's not alive it only has the POTENTIAL FOR LIFE?
    Meanwhile, if a pregnant Mum gets based and her unborn child dies it will be described as manslaughter…
    But hey, your neutral right?

  304. I find this curious. It's not unusual to hear complaints – justified complaints – that it's very hard for non-academics to get access to academic papers; they can be horribly expensive.

    The idea behind making this one freely available was in response to its having been picked up by some media outlets. The intention was that, if it was free for all to access, then people would be able to read the paper in full, rather than being forced to go by the partial picture they'd get from just the abstract or media reports. At the very least, people would be fully informed.

    Many of the comments here have accused the JME of elitism, or ivory-tower-ism; making the paper free was supposed to help dissolve that. It's very odd that the journal should be criticised for making ideas more accessible.

  305. I’m an atheist, but I’m pretty sure there’s a bit of a difference between wanting to kill someone of theological agreements and heated disagreements over practical ethics.  That you cannot see this is befuddling and demonstrates a grotesque lack of awareness regarding the topics you are referencing.

  306. A number of commentators have already suggested that the reason for accepting and publishing this article was to raise public awareness of the JME.  Making the paper freely available would of course serve that aim.  

    In replies to a couple of other posts you have asked whether death threats are reasonable and normal?  If by normal you mean “to be expected”, then yes they are absolutely normal.  As we all know, publishing homophobic or anti-Islamic articles are guaranteed to provoke death threats.  Why do you imagine, should justifying infanticide be different? 

    The JME has certainly managed to raise awareness of its existence, and if that was the aim, the death threats must have helped a great deal. 

    At the same time JME has alerted the general public to the moral bankruptcy of the utilitarian ethics that at least some of their authors promote.  For that service we should thank them.

  307. I love all these people yelling, 'I'm a Christian,' as if that's ever an a priori indicator to any insight on morality. Lets not forget, if it wasn't for a hefty round of baby killing and the murder of a jew they wouldn't even have a religion.

  308. This is true – but a good number of the responses here and elsewhere have gone beyond heated disagreement: they have strayed into “these-people-should-be-killed” territory.  (Jonolan is my current favourite example of this; have a look at his posts.)

  309. When I read this what came to mind was Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”.

  310. I can't speak for the editors of the actual journal, but I'd be immensely surprised if the paper was published in order to raise the journal's profile. I've never heard of that happening anywhere; and, besides, how would you go about getting people to write the thing anyway? (“We'd like it awfully if you'd take some time out of your schedule to write something that'll earn you death threats but will get us into the news…”? I don't know about you, but I'd tell anyone who approached me with a proposal like that to shove it up where Ra's chariot does not venture.)

    As for the point about other things generating threats: isn't that just fatwa-envy? “Other people behave idiotically so it's not fair if I can't”?

    Maybe the reaction is predictable to some extent – it's not unusual for bioethicists to get death threats, sadly; and (amusingly enough) they're invariably from people who want to take the moral high ground and defend the sanctity of life. But the fact that the reaction is predictable is a long way from saying it's justifiable; and I'm not sure that it's really all that desirable to live in a world in which people can't examine potentially unpopular ideas out of fear for their welfare.

  311. Isn't cut and paste a wonderful facility!  In the academic world that's called plagiarism.  

    What interests me is who awards titles like “most eminent philosopher/bioethisist”, and what criteria are used in determining that status? If one of the criteria is being provocative to the point where people threaten or assault one (e.g. Singer), then our authors are well on their way.

  312. At least it’s in keeping with the current theme. If its good enough for the authors to argue that newborns be killed, it’s certainly good enough for their opponents to argue that they themselves should be too. But look, you all sound very erudite and I’m just a layman, however it’s pretty clear that suggesting a human being be snuffed from existence for simply being inconvenient is just far too preposterous in today’s civilized society. Further, the argument that it has been done throughout history is like saying “We should own slaves because that’s what they used to do”… I’ve never heard smart folk sound so stupid.

  313. Iain, you do have a very high regard for the ethics of your academic colleagues!  In ordinary life, if not in academia, being provocative in order to attract attention is quite common. 

    In theology, it is quite common for writers to revive ancient heresies and make a name for themselves in the process.  Are bioethicists not doing the same thing by coming up with novel justifications for the abhorrent practice of infanticide that was rejected by western civilisations millennia ago?

    Of course the editors wouldn't commission a provocative article, but having received one, is it inconceivable that it might cross their minds that publishing it and making it freely available would attract a lot of attention?

  314. At least it’s in keeping with the current theme. If its good enough for the authors to argue that newborns be killed, it’s certainly good enough for their opponents to argue that they themselves should be too. But look, you all sound very erudite and I’m just a layman, however it’s pretty clear that suggesting a human being be snuffed from existence for simply being inconvenient is just far too preposterous in today’s civilized society. Further, the argument that it has been done throughout history is like saying “We should own slaves because that’s what they used to do”… I’ve never heard smart folk sound so stupid.

  315. I do think you might have misunderstood the claim being advanced, though. Essentially, they’re riffing on the idea that a non-person has no inherent right to life: if there is such a right, it comes alongside the development of personhood; and that requires a degree of psychological complexity that the newborn lacks. This is a fairly conventional premise. (Have a look at James Wilson’s post (https://blogs.bmj.com/medical-ethics/2012/03/02/why-is-infanticide-worse-than-abortion/) for an excellent summary of this aspect of the debate.) And G&M don’t think that their argument applies across the board: the final couple of paragraphs of their paper seem to admit that there’s much more to be said.

    At the same time, there is something puzzling (and paradoxical) about the sheer number of commenters here whose approach seems to be that it’s wrong to advocate killing, therefore it’s OK to consider killing G&M. Even if you think that G&M are not exactly innocents, the idea that they might face death simply for articulating an idea is repugnant, isn’t it?

  316.  I agree. I did check the calendar. I have no experience of academic writings but I kept checking and cross referencing names as the contents of this read as if it was a put up, looking for anti-abortion ranters to over respond. Alas it appears genuine. Scary.

  317. Publishing this article was brave and admirable.  Bioethics and ethics in general is not about reassuring people that their deeply held culturally constructed assumptions are true – they are about critically examining them.  This was exactly the type of piece needed to shake things up.

  318. I'll address that in the reverse order. The paper was made freely available after it had been picked up by a couple of websites. Normally, it'd cost a small fortune to get full access; the idea here was that, if it was freely available, then at the very least people would have the opportunity to see the whole argument before launching their attacks. They might still disagree with the conclusion – I'll admit here that I have some reservations, though there're other elements that I think are more straightforward – but they'd at least be able to see the whole thing. Ideally, 50 years' worth of other stuff would be freely available, too, so that selective quotations could be seen in the context of the paper, and the paper could be seen in the context of ongoing debates. That second bit can't be done – but the rationale behind making the paper free access was that. I'm fairly confident of that: it was me who suggested it.

    I've honestly never come across an academic in any discipline who has raised something just for the devilry. (I can't speak for theologians, admittedly: I've not met too many.) And I'm confident that that didn't happen here: I do think that G&M were, in good faith, following an argument that isn't staggeringly outré, at least in its early steps, and seeing where it took them.

    As for whether provocation might make publication more likely – again, I don't think so. Obviously, the editors would like papers to be widely read; but what counts as “widely read” in an academic journal doesn't exactly compare with what counts as widely read in a news-stand magazine. (I can't help to wonder whether even this paper is being as widely read as it might appear: I've no way of telling, but I suspect that many commenters have read the news coverage, and maybe a paragraph or two of the paper, but not much more. But this is speculation, so I'll shut up on that line…)

    I'm not sure I have an undeservedly high regard for my fellow bioethicists. Some are saints; some are scoundrels. Most are a somewhere in between. We're just like everyone else, really…

  319. The debate doesn't usually appeal to the potential for life, since noone would deny that a foetus is alive.  What's important is the question of the moral importance of that life; that's very different.

    For what it's worth, I think it'd be indefensible to describe a pregnant drinker as having committed manslaughter, too.  There're some US legislators who would describe it thus, but they're mistaken.

  320. But a killing without justification is plainly going to be morally problematic.  The whole point of the paper is to ask questions about what would count as a justification, and when.

  321. You mindless liberals can't get your stories straight,  was it run of the js mill consequentiaIism that fills bioethics journals (overrun with the murderous cranks, and eugenicists)  or was it brave and admirable? The deeply held discipleship to a Singerian culture constructed in Melbourne, is the assumption that needs to be critically examined I'll give you the strong tip.

    Until that time I'll tell you what this article is – it's the reassuring of in the minds of the healthy, if there was any doubt,  moribund  liberalism is beyond saving. Attempting to re-animate it's corpse with a 'progressive' project of infanticide, oh sorry 'after birth abortion' shook up what is unmistakeable – the natural response of disgust from the healthy and a clear image of the hideousness of liberal humanism.

  322. Life has its own imperative – intrinsic to itself fro the moment of conception. The possesion of a brains is not a criteria of life’s imperative, whatever the stage of that life’s development. It’s surprising that some representatives of satient lfe forms seem not to be aware of this despite superficial indicators that they have mastered the ability to reason.

  323.  Yes. Threats and the carrying out of those threats with extreme prejudice and all due swiftness are reasonable and normal against anyone who promulgates such a heinous act in a venue where it is reasonable to presume that it would be listened to and possibly acted upon.

  324. I understand that freedom of scientific publication is a necessity for people to advance in knowledge, and I think that no one is to be blamed or even more threatened, neither the authors nor the publisher, to present the paper in question. But I want to note two distinct points:

    1. Everyone should stay far from the temptation to utilize the disgusting responses of extremists toward the authors or the publisher to discriminate criticism of the paper and its theses.

    2. The premises the authors are using should not be proclaimed as “widely accepted”. Especially the person definition the authors are using is totally in contradiction to the legal, constitutional view on the matter of which subjects have a constitutional right to live in Germany. Abortion is legal in Germany, but is still considered unlawful and ethically wrong. It is just that it goes unpunished under certain circumstances.

  325. Academic freedom can not justify infanticide – or else we would come back to the way they thought in the Third Reich. I totaly agree with opinion given by Mr Eric Dunham. Very well said.

  326. This seems to amount to the claim that freedom demands that we forbid the discussion of unpopular ideas, just in case they turn out to be convincing.

    Doesn't look all that free to me…

  327. Tee-hee!
    (But: no. When I suggested that game, everyone else in the conversation thought it'd be fun. And how many responded to the post? None. Maybe they had an inkling that Glenn Beck was watching… *sigh*)

  328. It's difficult to answer to such questions and claim to be
    objective. In fact there is a mix of what one would expect from people which
    are so different that there can be no such realistic expectations. In fact,
    let's differentiate the average person from the scientific/academic one (I know
    there is no such line, but try to follow the argument before screaming). In the
    academic world, ideally, there should be no censure at all. People should be
    able to discuss any proposition at all, and I really mean any. You should be
    able to propose that all Jews are killed (for those who like the Nazi cliché)
    or that women should be bitten to death when disagreeing with their husbands. I
    am giving examples that will sound totally absurd, but ideally there should be
    liberty enough in the academic world to propose such things, and the fact that
    I myself find them absurd should be irrelevant. So even with all the complaints
    about the excess of liberty in the academic world, the academic world is not
    free enough.

    On the other hand, there is the average person. This does
    not designate any specific person or any kind of person, but it means we cannot
    expect in such a group to have any special assumption (like the assumption that
    the academic world should respect freedom to an extreme that can be considered
    unnatural). So in this group you cannot expect a different reaction to moral
    offending articles than the one we observe in general. Yes, people will shout
    against whatever you say because they don't share your opinion. They will
    menace you because you defend abortion, they will try to kill you because you
    said black people are not inferior to white people, they will beat you because
    you don't like Jews. It doesn't matter if you think they are being attacked for
    defending something right or wrong, the fact is that they will be attacked no
    matter what they defend.

    So regarding the controversial article that has been
    published, we need to understand the difference between the two attitudes: the
    academic one, and the natural one. Maybe if I knew the authors of the article
    and had a direct relationship with them I would be tempted to shit on their
    heads, but at the same time if I was to enter an articulate discussion with
    them I would try to do it with arguments. I would not even say I was disgusted
    with what they say because this is completely irrelevant in such a discussion.
    It could be that they would be more articulate than me and people could tend to
    think that their arguments are more compelling than mine, and I would
    “loose” the discussion. But that is what we call freedom of speech in
    its purest form which I believe has a positive effect on society. You cannot
    expect to have total freedom of speech but at the same time filter what can be
    defended or not. At the end, you can always disagree, even if you don't have
    the intellectual arguments to defend your point of view.


  329. This paper reminds me the support from many European intellectuals to the nazi and stalinist theses, and also to terrorist activities by liberal and leftist minds during a long time. Holland was a collaborationist country with Hitler regime, and for me it is not an absurd that infanticide, for hygienic purposes, is an accepted practice in that country. This is the Old Europe. This paper is a shame to Oxford, to the BMJ, and to European Philosophy. Absolutely a shame that deserves our most intense disavowal.

  330. The fact is that society, including academic journals, does suppress certain unpopular ideas. Let someone 
    develop this paper's argument and conclude that as a new born can be killed without harming it in a morally significant way, it can also be sexually abused before being killed, and I think you'd agree that no matter how well argued the paper, it would not be published.

  331. What a disturbing editorial response to the article in question. While you provide some 'reasons' as to the merits of the piece and the decision to publish it, you take the coarse responses of some to undergird your moral case, exalting the journal and its decisions as liberal and morally virtuous in contrast to the response you have provoked. A false dichotomy. If the journal's goal is not to seek truth (whether small or capital T) then you might as well call it a day. The deep disorder of the modern world is best captured by both the content of the article, and your decision to publish it. I don't question your right to say it, but it is, I would contend (and in better company than Peter Singer or yourselves), a sick, sick sign.      

  332. I don't agree with the rude violent/racist remarks but this is scary. It just sounds like Hitler. Justifying killing by
    saying they have no rights and aren’t actually “people”.

  333.  The paper is referencing things, as e.g. the person definition by Peter Singer. Now philosophy and especially ethics to my understanding is presenting logical conclusions based on first principles. The person definition used in that article seems to be such a first principle.

    Now, if the conclusions from a first principle in ethics are considered to be ethically wrong, also logically correct linked to the first principle, isn’t the correct response to question the first principle?

  334. Strongly disagree with the author's provocative premise and the subsequent defense of it here! 

    intellectual rationalization does make something right. 

    The transition from one state(womb) to another state(birth) should be remarkable enough to create an impenetrable  barrier for any line of thought on either side of the state change.

    in statistics do you compare 2 different processes? when the population of data shifts do you split the data or keep the populations together? The answer is no. like for like.

    Now let's quit rationalizing the poor decisions of the desperate out of empathy and spend some critical thinking on how to mitigate them.

  335.  LDP… I prefer the Progressive Era (1890-1920) of the United States…. Where do you think Germany came up with their ideas?

  336. The authors’ arguments are clearly not new and they make the valid observation that there is little practical distinction  between a fetus and a neo nate but the mystery remains as to why those who are horrified at such arguments are perceived  as fanatics and averse to reasoned argument. If liberal values must by definition include reasoned discussion about infanticide then there is something deeply disordered about liberal values.There are times when  a line is crossed which compel reasoned and measured people to cry “Halt!”  

  337. I find it completely unbelievable that these people do not remember another recent time in our history where One person decided that certain persons were not people of moral character and started eliminating the one after the other! What you are advocating is nothing Short of another Holocaust! How dare these people judge who is morally a person of worth and who is not! I say that God will be the ultimate Judge and these Doctors and those who advocate this Holocaust will be the ones who are Judged Morally Unacceptable and those persons will end up in the fiery Gates of Hell!

  338. I would have no qualms about walking into one of these after-birth
    abortion clinics and shooting every doctor and nurse to death in
    defense of the most innocent life of an infant.. 
    Would you call that an “after-birth abortion” too?  Would it be
    immoral or unjust?  Is the doctor and nurse more innocent than
    the infant that they want to murder or have murdered? 

  339. quoting the paper (page 3): “The reason is that, by virtue of our definition of the concept of ‘harm’ in the previous section, in order for a harm to occur, it is necessary that someone is in the condition of experiencing that harm.”

    So if a rapist applies some knock-out-pills to his neighbour and carries out his … business, no harm is occuring to her, because, being unconcious, she is not in the condition to experience that harm? Would the authors then enlighten us why this is against the law?

  340.  “What the response to this article reveals, through the microscope of the
    web, is the deep disorder of the modern world. Not that people would
    give arguments in favour of infanticide, but the deep opposition that
    exists now to liberal values and fanatical opposition to any kind of
    reasoned engagement.”

    For years I have harbored a half-formed, sneaking suspicion of liberalism and it is this: It is not the mean, or the depraved, or the despicable that the modern liberal opposes–it is those who oppose the mean, the depraved and the despicable.  Never in my most fevered imaginings did I foresee such an unambiguous confirmation of my suspicion as the above paragraph.

    To Julian Savulescu:  You are a contemptible person, and though I find your very existence repellent, I would not advocate any initiation of force against you short of restraining you from carrying out some insane fantasy stemming from your mindless and benighted worship of of that which you call “reasoned engagement”.  Your arguments are no different in principle or structure from those of Goebbels, Himmler and Hitler.  I truly hope that you come to realize the absolute obscenity of your defense of the indefensible, though I doubt that you ever will.  Reasoned debate is indeed an indispensable component of a free, forward-looking society.  But when we turn debate into an end rather than a means–when we substitute intellectual novelty for moral certainty, we are truly entering humanity’s final act.

    And the opposition you so balefully decry is not opposition to “any kind” of reasoned debate–it is opposition to debate that is advanced in an effort to demean us all.

    And for the record, I am an atheist.

    Good day.  

  341. Amy – I found the cherry-picking to be the most egregious aspect of this episode. Savulescu is an established and creative philosopher who has never stooped to cheap strawmen attacks in his own work. It’s shameful that he has done so here.

  342. Since the paper is about the length of an abstract anyhow, part of this discussion is moot. It would never have qualified as a “paper” in the vast majority of philosophy journals. Indeed, don’t we have an unspoken rule in philosophy that we shall not solve deep ethical dilemmas in less than three pages?

    There’s no way to defend the publication of this as a paper in a refereed journal. It’s not original, and unless western academia fell apart in the last week, that’s still the proper standard for publication.

  343. Brassington – are you suggesting that it is wholly outside the realm of logical consideration that someone would consider killing baby-killers? Is that not open for debate? The authors have not themselves said that they would in fact commit infanticide with their own hands. As such, I would consider them out of bounds. However, if there were someone in my vicinity who was going to take such an action, I would certainly consider killing them in defense of the child.

    Wouldn’t you? Have you decided that, in fact, newborns are not worth defending with deadly force?

  344. Brassington: It’s not true that “that term is generally understood to have a particular meaning” if by this you mean that there are specific features of personhood agreed to by all or most philosophers. I’m sure that you can’t believe this if you are well-read in the literature.

  345. There are times when it’s appropriate to attack the man, a time when discourse is a stall tactic to allow evil to flourish. This might not be such a time, but there are such times.

  346. This article is sick, you should be ashamed . but you are not.. That is subhuman
    behavior…This journal is an embarrassment to the medical profession…This is
    what Hitler did and the world was appalled by him now they are appalled by
    this journal and any like minded perverted maniac that would consider this
    medicine or Ethical…My name is Dianne St.Amand for the record

  347. There is never any justification for threatening anybody, having said that, I can certainly understand peoples disgust. Where is this going to end? Who decides who is a person and who is not? Are we now going to go around to all the homes for the disabled and systematically kill all those who don’t ‘have a self awareness’?

    I’m sorry but when we reject any moral law maker above all men then morality simply becomes a matter of opinion. The real question is who’s opinion will win the day, lets hope that we are more ‘civilised’ than Germany was in the 1930s.

  348.  The soul is present at conception,it is not physical and doesnt need a fully developed body to inhabit.
    Foe all the reasoning and modern enlightenment the godless still conform to the heathen practices documented in the Bible.
    Proof if more was needed that without the creator mankind will choose their own destruction.

  349. Intellect is no measure of Wisdom.
    If the subject of the article was to destroy only part of humanity,say mongolian babies they it would never have been published,I bet the academics would be the first to hurl invectives.
    But as is seeks to destroy any babies its seen as “rational”
    If you really do have an intellect then invent something useful for humanity,stop being a lapdog for the nwo

  350. Your evidence for this is what, exactly?

    And – and I ask this in all seriousness – if the soul is immaterial and doesn’t need a body, why worry about whether the body is alive or dead? The soul would presumably not be affected either way.

  351.  What I like about this comment is that there is an assumption that discussing such things will cause society to dissolve in to madness. It seems the author thinks that the only thing holding us back from infanticide is that we don't talk about it…

  352. Point 1 is obviously correct.

    As for point 2: well, the premises are widely accepted within the bioethics community. Whether they're in contradiction to the law is neither here nor there (and why the law in Germany is especially important is a complete mystery). The reason for this is that law is not the arbiter of ethics; we would hope that, if there is a relationship, it's the other way. Whatever the law says, we can legitimately ask whether it's morally defensible, morally sound, morally coherent. It makes much less to criticise a moral claim by means of an appeal to law.

  353. I can't say in advance what I'd do in situations like the one you describe. Moreover, questions of what I'd “consider” might fall flat: in emergency situations like that, considering anything at all might be a sign of having had one thought too many.

    Either way, what you describe is a particular emergency situation. What's happening here is that people are having their lives and welfare threatened not because of anything they've done or might do, but because they've articulated an unpopular thought. Giubilini and Minerva are not baby-killers.

  354. Murdering children is not a Liberal thing to do,even discussing the concept is tantamount to promoting the idea.
    “Sound rational argument?”
    So what happens when certain poorer groups are singled out for the child killings?
    There is a precursor to this state of affairs in New York.
    Where Black communities are targeted by abortion clinics-read the stats

  355. The length of the paper is a bit of a distraction: it is short, but short papers are a characteristic of the Journal anyway. I don't see that there's any virtue in expanding papers where it's not necessary, though. Why use 30 pages when 29 will do? And why use 29 if 4 will do?

    The point about the quality of the paper is slightly different. Of course, if it's not up to snuff, we can expect to see a few rebuttals coming up over the next few months.

  356.  “The soul is present at conception,it is not physical and doesnt need a fully developed body to inhabit.”

    Care to provide the evidence that such an immaterial entity as a “soul” exists, and that it is present at conception?

    You see if you knew anything about history in this regard, you would know that many of the most well known Christian/Catholic theologians of the past did not believe the soul was imparted until long after conception, and the majority of abortions.

  357. What else is left to defend? Those two potential killers of children should say why, then, we should not start to produce babies, for example, organ transplantation. If people admit that they are, but not morally relevant, why give to animals or incineration corneas, livers,hearts?

  358. We have Margaret Sanger to thank for all the compassion she felt for the people that would be tortured by the mere presence of “lower humans who should not be allowed to reproduce” ( I am paraphrasing) We should all so thank our former president Woodrow Wilson for applauding Ms Sanger’s opinions and trying to start programs in America for genocide under the guise of “protecting our races”. Disgusting and horrible – these fiends were so proficient in there “deadly crusades” that Hitler came knocking at their door to gain more information about eugenics.

    By the way, not that I agree with the Islamic faith in many ways, Muslims do not believed in taking the life of an unborn child. 

  359. ¿Estamos locos? No puedo creerme que la tesis de estos dos cientificos sea cierta. Sin duda debe de tratarse de una broma de mal gusto. ¡Por Dios! Si porque hay vida real e independiente desde la fecundacion del òvulo fecundado, el aborto es un asesinato, ¿Que diremos cuando se trata de eliminar al bebè ya nacido?   

  360. O que mais resta
    defender? Aqueles dois potenciais assassinos de crianças deveriam dizer
    por que, então, não devemos começar a produzir bebês para fazer, por
    exemplo, transplante de órgãos. Se admitem que são pessoas, mas ainda
    não moralmente relevantes, por que entregar aos bichos ou à incineração
    córneas, fígados, corações?

    What else is left to defend? Those two potential killers of children should say why, then, we should not start to produce babies, for example, organ transplantation. If people admit that they are, but not morally relevant, why give to animals or incineration corneas, livers,hearts?

  361. ” What is disturbing is not the arguments in this paper nor its
    publication in an ethics journal. It is the hostile, abusive,
    threatening responses that it has elicited.” 

    Are you implying that infanticide is not “hostile”, or “abusive”, or “threatening”?

  362. You have a point, but your last paragraph should read:

    What this article and the response reveals, through the microscope of the web, is the deep disorder of the modern world. It can be seen in people who give “moral and ethical” arguments in favor of infanticide and in the extreme form some opposition presents in objecting to such an indecent proposal.

  363. “However, the goal of the Journal of Medical Ethics is not to present the Truth or promote some one moral view.”

    How can we separate morals from ethics? By publishing the article, the journal is already taking a moral stand that the Truth is not as important as the freedom to air one's views.

    While I do not agree with views that attack the researchers personally, the idea of killing babies, whether in or outside the womb, is repulsive and heartbreaking.

    We can use all the reasons we have to “justify” abortion, but that's all there is to it – self-justification to escape from pain and inconvenience.

  364. This is an “ethics” journal?  My God. The response does not reveal the “disorder of the modern world.”  It reveals the moral depravity of the people who write this stuff. And exactly when will the newborn be judged to be “worthy” of life? Hmmmmm? A week?  A year?  Maybe we should wait till we see how he does in school?

  365. This is somewhat amusing- the editor says that people emotionally objecting murder are somehow disordered while those calmly proposing a return to the earliest murder policies of the 3rdReich (where retard children were starved to death until the process was mechanized by the same Carbon monoxide used to gas Jews until replaced by Zycoln B) are ordered….The same logic as  these “great minds ” use would make experimenting on these unwanted 'potential' people moral and right since some 'real' human might thereby avoid suffering….
    Most people who calmly suggest killing kids are considered psycopaths due to their lack of empathy- they dont think of their victim as a human being  just as the NAzi doctors and SS men thought of their prey.

  366. I'm sorry, but it all sounds to me pretty much like:
    “As Editor of the Journal, I would like to defend its publication. The arguments presented, in fact, are largely not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world, including Adolf Hitler, Mao Ze Dong and Joseph Stalin in defence of mass murder, which the authors call 'final solution'.

    The novel contribution of this paper is not an argument in favour of mass murder – the paper repeats the arguments made famous by Hitler and Ze Dong – but rather their application in consideration of different social issues. The paper also draws attention to the fact that death penalty is practised in the USA. 

    Many people will and have disagreed with these arguments. However, the goal of the Journal of Medical Ethics is not to present the Truth or promote some one moral view. It is to present well reasoned argument based on widely accepted premises. The authors provocatively argue that there is no moral difference between a given hated ethnic group and pigs. Their capacities are relevantly similar. If killing for self-defense is permissible, mass murder should be permissible. The authors proceed logically from premises which many people accept to a conclusion that many of those people would reject.[…]”And I'm not even “pro-life”. That's disgusting.

  367. It's not so much a claim that freedom is more important than truth; rather, that we don't actually know the truth, and free discussion is the best way to find it.

    You may not agree with that, either – but it's different from your reading.

  368. The paper is not appalling because of it’s conclusion,
    but because of it’s fundamental mistake. It proposes one outcome variable (termination)
    and one explanatory variable (psychological or other type of morbidity). By argumentative
    exclusion of other variables and by absence of measurement, a closed logical universe
    is created whereby rebuttal would be a scenario as hypothetical as the argument

    This “phylosofical” freedom is so very academic in nature that it
    even enjoys the freedom of not being constrained to existing definitions. Such
    that abortion stops being in-utero and is sent ex-utero.

    I have done peer review of papers in epidemiology, but I do not
    feel tempted or dared by Professors Emeritus in addressing a construct, a
    simplistic world, explained by one variable, and where a relative measure of conflicting
    personal interest is turned absolute.

    I am sorry, it is not just the conclusion it’s the rubbish
    argument. You missed the forest for the trees.

  369. Perhaps the authors have demonstrated sufficient inhumanity as to subject themselves to after-birth abortion. At any rate, it doesn't take any more sophistry to say that those whose plans are inhumane lose all right to life than that newborns who have formulated no plans lose all right to life. I gather that if they had held prestigious chairs in “medical ethics” in Berlin in 1936, and saw their plans come to fruition in that country, they would have rightly been subject to prosecution and condemnation at Nuremberg. But maybe we're all too sophisticated for that sort of judgmentalism nowadays.

  370. I find it interesting that the examples you give of 
    hostile, abusive, threatening responses” that you imply should not be legally allowed are not any of the three.  They do seem shocked and indignant, but the most “violent” of all your examples is not, instead it merely expresses a desire that duly constituted authorities should treat the authors a murderers and punish them according to the law.  Stating that the authors “
    need to be delivered for immediate execution under their code of ‘after birth abortions’ they want to commit murder…”. 

    Note that the comment is not a personal threat, but a desire that they “be delivered” over to authorities.  And the retribution is not an unrelated threat, but merely an argument that they should be judged by their own standard – hardly a violent threat in my book.

    While admittedly exercised, the comment is neither threatening nor violent.  I'm a bit surprised you can edit a respected journal and not know the difference between  someone saying “I'm going to choke you to death” and “I think you should be tried and hanged according to the law.”  One is a hostile threat, the other a totally acceptable ethical plea.

    But then then quality of thinking in the ethics community is not what it once was – hence the publication of the article now in question, I suppose.

  371. The British author CS Lewis, in an Essay entitled “Men without Chests” once lamented the irony of men who will “laugh at the idea of loyalty and then are shocked to find traitors in their midst.”  I think the editors of JME need to read that essay.

    They publish articles that argue an extreme dehumanization of others (infants) and then are shocked, SHOCKED I tell you…to find others turning the tables on them.  Of course, it's clear they didn't intend for people to relativise the value and worth of their own lives, just others lives.  I assume they think their own “worth” is without question.  But there are few ethical axioms more basic than that “what's good for the goose is good for the gander.”  Perhaps they might want to think a few more steps down the route that they are advocating/approving.

    If the subject matter of all this weren't so deadly serious I'd find their protestations of utter shock at being “done unto as they have done to others” would be laughable.  But it's not, it's just very sad.

  372. This article demonstrates clearly that we have developed so completely a culture of death that there is simply no humanly possible way to escape it. We have become the society of self-justifying individuals that Nietzsche advocated, all convinced that we are completely independent moral agents with absolute freedom to do as we please, and to hell with anyone who gets in our way. I can only pray in the words of the Crucified one, and in opposition to Nietzsche and his insane will to power, “Father, forgive us, for we know not what we do.”

  373. My reference to the german constitutional and legal situation, which is directly based on ethical considerations at that point, should just serve as an example of the fact that premises like “Only persons (in the sense of e.g. Peter Singer) have a moral right to live” are not “widely accepted” by the human community. As I am not familiar with what the bioethics community is, I have no other choice but to accept for now that the cited premise is widely accepted within that community. Which makes me worry.

    As this premise seems to me in contradiction to the premise “every human being has a right to live” which is part of the declaration of human rights and part of a humanism which I believe is in wide-spread use all throughout at least the democratic, “free” world. Now if the bioethics community disagrees at this important point I would say: bioethics is seriously flawed and should reconsider its basic assumptions.

  374. First, the way the argument is presented in the media tends to differ from how the original authors put it. So one problem is this: people respond to a distorted version of the argument. The solution to this problem is obvious: people should read the actual paper before making a single comment. Sadly, most people don't bother. 
    Secondly, it seems most people would fail an exam in basic logic, and lack the ability to distinguish between a philosophical argument and a layman quarrel. The solution to this: make logic and critical thinking part of the curriculum in primary, secondary and high school. As long as the majority of people are unable to reason, good arguments are likely to be dismissed and ridiculed by hyperbole and propaganda.

  375. Well, I think and want to be understood that way, that my final sentence boils down to the claim that bioehtics (you now restrict it to certain) are wrong as they disagree with what is currently codified “common sense” ethics. I did not write the declaration of human rights nor did I sign them personally. The representatives of the majority of the nations representing thus the majority of mankind did.
    You are absolutely right that this does not provide proof that all those people are right and those that think otherwise are wrong. But there is a reasoning behind “common sense” ethics that seems to persuade more people then the reasoning behind Singers theses.
    Now in physics we have nature to check our theses and falsify wrong ones. Ethics as a science needs a similar measurement. And the ultimate check of any ethical theses (IMHO) is whether its conclusions are acceptable to mankind. If it fails that check it can be as logical as one can imagine. It simply does not fit human nature and thus has to be discarded.
    You are aware of the fact that logic does not tell you what is true, but only what is true if something else is true. Each theory, even an ethical one, needs basic assumptions which are believed to be true without any logical cause leading to that. In math they are called axioms.
    You said that the premises used by the authors are “widely accepted” and thus I understand they are no longer debated and used like axioms. As the logical conclusions derived from those premises lead to ethical conclusions unacceptable to mankind, the premises needs reconsideration.
    My personal interest in this discussion is based on the fact that we have here in Germany bioethicists as advice givers for parliament. If every bioethicist accept the premises I criticize then they do not share the ethical code written into our constitution and thus are unable to advise parliament in making laws that are in consent with that constitution. This would be a very bad situation – those experts would have to be removed from their position. If only some bioethicists accept the cited premises while others do not, that would be better. Now how is the situation really in the “bioethic community”.

  376. Dear commenters, please don't waste your time. These “most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world” (Savulescu, Singer, Harris etc.)  are just a bunch of megalomaniac small minds who make a living out of mindless provocation. Don't feed the academic trolls!

  377. The authors of the article don't just “talk” about infanticide. They JUSTIFY it. That is what is obscene in their reasoning and in the publishing of the article. If I mention that the modern Chinese practice infanticide, I am not in any way approving of it. But if I state that, in my view, the Chinese have every right to kill their female children if they feel inconvenienced by them, then I am approving of infanticide. That would most definitely be a contribution to the madness and horror. Surely, you can't be too dense to understand this?

  378. A minor pedantic point – if they have justified infanticide, then the response here would be otiose. If something has been justified, then we have to accept its permissibility. The most that can be said is that they've attempted to justify, or mounted a justification of it.

    This aside, it's hard to see what's achieved by the repeated description of what's going on in the paper. That doesn't engage with it.

  379. OK – but the fact that something is believed (by bioethicists, Germans, or anyone at all) isn't evidence that it ought to be believed. Giubilini and Minerva's ideas may be wrong, and should be scrutinised; but the same applies to all ideas. That – I take it – was the point Julian was making about liberal societies.

    With scrutiny, bad ideas will fall away; good ones won't. There should be no reason to worry about all ideas being presented for scrutiny.

    Your final sentence seems to boil down to the claim that (certain) bioethicists are wrong because you disagree with them. Shouldn't things be the other way around – that the claim that they're wrong comes at the end, not the beginning, of a line of argument?

  380.  How many black children would have been killed when they were deemed ‘subhuman’ in the age of Eugenics?  Do we think we know so much more now that we wouldn’t make the same sorts of mistakes?  And if so, why wouldn’t we?  Have we evolved?

  381. This is a thought experiment. To suggest that an article carrying out such a thought experiment is the same as NAZIs involved in the the final solution is truly disgusting. To physically threaten human lives over written word is childish at best. Yes the issue raised is disturbing but better it be a philosophical arguement than a practical experiment. What next book burning and murder. This article raises questions about what it is fundamentally to be human. I applaud the Editor for allowing such articles so the real experiment is never carried out. 

  382. While the demeaning and threatening rhetoric you cite is demeaning and disgusting, it masks the real question: Why is it more inappropriate to threaten the lives of adults than it is to threaten the lives of newborn babies? Is unseemly rhetoric a worse offense than the advocacy of murder? Of course, in a world where there is no Truth nor any moral standards of right and wrong, how then can you even criticize those who spew hatefilled rhetoric? How is it wrong to speak in such fashions? Isn’t your condemnation of such language just a construct?

    For those of us who understand that there is in fact Truth, and that there are clear standards of right and wrong–we are free to criticize the advocacy of death and violence whether it comes in the form of academic discourse or intemperate rhetoric on the Internet.

    If you are confused about whether it is wrong to murder children, how can you be so certain that it is wrong to use such language? 

  383. Another proof (if THAT was needed!) that abortionforbidders and religites are willing to kill people who disagree with them.

  384. As troubling as the article in question’s viewpoint is to me the reaction of many to it is even more desturbing. As Savulescu notes, the viewpoint is not new even if its formation in this article in this journal has relatively unique elements. But those who oppose the position of the papert–as I do–can be grateful to the Journal for its publication. It is insufficiently to simply declaim and to criticize…or demonize. Tose who find the viewpoint odious, or simply unsatisfactory, have a target to address. They can do this in papers, in pubic forums, in the newspapers. The J. of Medical EThics has always taken as its brief the publication of a variety of viewpoints that are contentious. It does this to provide a popular and professional forum in which ideas can be tested, assumptions challenged, ideas contrasted. This is what a good journal does and to criticize it for its responsible function is to deny debate and the integrity real debate presents.

  385. Perhaps you should re-examine the definition of the word “murder” and see if it stacks up to “after birth abortion”.  If you fail to see that after birth abortion is infanticide, you must be discredited of any credentials in ethics that you may have earned.  The same goes with the likes of Singer et. al.

  386. The problem of this article lies in the definition of ‘personhood’. Why should we accept this definition?
    From a phenomenological perspective, consciousness is the line from which one is a moral agent and this has been argued to occur before birth. A utilitarian perspective would claim that at the advent of a nervous system the being is part of the moral consideration. A Kantian would claim that the being would have to be rational and only then would they be in the moral horizon.
    Rather than an immediate adverse reaction towards the article, challenge the definitions the ethicists make and determine whether on those grounds the argument is sound.
    The concept of a person being ‘subject to a moral right to life’ is steeped in this subjective concept of ‘personhood’ with no real justification to accept this definition over any other definition.

  387. Please do not reference what you do not know. We are so far from what Nietzsche advocated it is astounding. We have become a homogenized non-spectacular society that doesn’t take a moment and engage with an argument. Nietzsche advocated for a vital society not the monotonous one that we are. Yes, this article is shocking but dont glaze it over, engage with it. Bring arguments as to why you think it is wrong. That is what Nietzsche wanted. That is why he grabbed you by the collar in his writing and shoved you against the wall and forced you to disagree with him. To confront his words and usurp his position. The will to power was not something Nietzsche advocated but rather the driving force in the world.

    Nietzsche sought the “revaluation of values”. Only by reevaluating our own morality can we improve upon it. In other words, these type of articles are the ones that move us forward by questioning the justification of our beliefs.

  388. The fact that a number of people opposed to the views in the article also express openly hostile and racist remarks is of course wrong, though I’m not sure what basis there is for your opinion that “More than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat
    from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society”.

    However, it would be a shame for the reactions of a few to detract from the debate. Specifically I am surprised that whilst the authors show the consistency of their logic that if foetuses can be aborted then why can’t infanticide happen. What they do not address:
    a. On what basis killing an older child would then be morally wrong
    b. What the criteria is, and where it is derived from, that they would start to evaluate that a human being of a certain age is no longer allowed to be killed.

    Whilst the argument exposes the ‘logical consistency’ between abortion and infanticide, rather than concluding that infanticide should be permissable we could equally conclude that the premises underpinning abortion are in fact wrong.

  389. The irony is that they pulled this article when the heat from debate became too great.  Thus, they censored themselves.  Perhaps they missed the “reasoned engagement” such as found on this blog… (many excellent reads, may I say)  

  390. It’s not repugnant in all cases. It depends on the idea that is being “articulated.” Let us do away with this silly bit of liberalism that all ideas are worthy of equal consideration. If that were the case, then you shouldn’t be calling any ideas “repugnant.”

    If I “articulate” the idea to a minor child that it’s acceptable to sodomize chil

  391.  Well, that is certainly a well thought out response.  Rather than deal with content, just nit pick over the use of “madame”.

  392.  Of course, we can discuss too about the killing of neighbours, about the inferiority of the “niggers”, and so on…
    Immature minds like to argue and play with the lives of others.

  393. Noelle, If you follow the history of the abortionist movement in America, you will find the number to be right at 16 million since 1973.

  394. I see the original article has been removed.. it's not enough for leftist to kill them within the womb but the blood thirsty business of killing babies wants to kill them after they are born.. just what kind of sick person can bring them selves to kill a living baby ?? sick sick people. Hitler would love you all.

  395. you are  the man I couldn't on my best day compare to your remarks .. if you are to be the standard  from which below all should be killed there would not be many left… outstanding post!!

  396. an obvious elitist view, sorry to inform you but we the masses are not your subjects clearly you harbor a eurpean 16th century of the world. Don't mean to burst your bubble there is nothing special about your field their is nothing in academia that surpasses the knowledge and understand and ethic's that has been canonized in 329 ad remained unchanged since and trumps any philosopher you could possible name.. When you get over your self and realize your income flows from the works of these supposed subjects you see your self so above maybe reality will set in and you will realize you live an insignificant life below even a ditch digger for at least a ditch digger leave a lasting impression.

  397. What a load of bullshit. Get Peter Singer's dick out of your mouth and talk straight for a change.

  398.  I somehow doubt you are right about Hitler, but the article wasn't pulled, just the link changed.

  399.  Well actually the article wasn't pulled, the link changed as the paper moved from one stage to the next.

  400.  It hasn't been removed, the link changed (automatically) when the paper moved through the publishing process on the website. I've now updated the link in Julian's post.

  401. I appreciate you publishing this nonsense. It makes it so much easier to convince the general public of the absolute brokenness of the moral compass of the abortionist movement.

    If an unborn infant is not much different from a born one, and a infant not much different from a toddler, and a toddler not much different from an elementary kid, and am elementary kid not much different from a teen… where does it stop? This is so helpful for those of us having regular discussions with normal people regarding the ethical foolishness of the movement the authors intended to support.

    Please keep publishing so you can give us softballs in the court of public opinion.

  402. Well it does suggest a failure to have actually, you know, read the article properly.

  403. I am Brazilian, and say simply, Europe should be wiped off the map, it argues the death of human beings, that neither had the opportunity to grow, gain experiences and be happy. Europe sodomites should sound its laws and needs to be wiped out. And imagine that the cradle of human rights began in France, where he shamelessly try to justify abortion and postpartum DEATH. EUROPE = Sodom and Gomorrah, so should be wiped off the map!!

  404. Absolutely no sodomites at the Rio carnival of course…
    And I believe that calling for the obliteration of an entire continent may undermine your outrage at the article somewhat, as there are likely to be a fair few newborn babies among the population.
    You sir, are an arse.

  405.  Well done Ohm, you win my most internally inconsistent comment award. “People are saying it might be morally okay to kill babies in some circumstances – quick lets destroy millions of people (including babies) to prevent that…”

  406. Societies have always been faced with a choice of what is and what is not a human being.  So what else is new.  The authors assert that infants are not persons because they cannot establish aims.  How do we know that any individual homo sapien really establishes any aims, at all?  Maybe all homo sapiens beyond the age of twelve establish aims, besides bioethicists.  Maybe the set of all non-persons includes infants and bioethicists.  “Establishing aims” is not a scientific argument, it is a metaphysical argument.

    This is all just a redux of the  “free will” debate.

    I mean, who is to say if it is really “you” that is “establishing aims”  Is there even a “you”?  Why is establishing aims the criteria for elimination from the category of “personhood”?  Why not base personhood on projected adult IQ?  Or propensity to criminality?  Both of these traits clearly have some, probably much, genetic input.  At least IQ is empirically measurable, while “free will” is not.

    Like the authors, I want to eliminate some individuals from society.  We just differ on the criteria.  Mine is empirically based therefore it is more rational.

  407. Mmm, yes. Those elitists with their sentences beginning with capital letters, their coherent clauses and correct use of there, their and they're. If, by the 329AD reference, you're referring to the Bible, I think you'll find it's been changed, chopped, adapted, and revised any number of times since then to fulfill the not always benificent designs of people in power. 
    Also, what have you got against ditch diggers anyway?

  408. julian,     (julian savulascu, editor, journal of medical ethics)

    i find it completely disingenuous for you to worry about the safety of the authors, or of anyone else for that matter, while at the same time you are condoning the murder of infants and children.
    if you do not find it offensive to threaten infants and children with murder based on one “moral” view, then conversely why would you find it offensive to murder adults based on some other “moral” view ??
    are you, in your infinite wisdom as editor of a supposed “free and open debate publication” passing moral judgement ??

    if you consider it liberal, free, and ethical to promote the idea of murdering infants and children; then why is it also not liberal, free, and ethical to promote the killing of those adults who promote such murder ??

    further, do you mean also to just as disingenuously suggest that “racism” is defacto “wrong” and immoral as well ?? 
    by whose “moral” standard is racism wrong but infant and child murder not wrong, exactly ??

    what exactly is moral or immoral ?? or does each individual merely judge for himself as he slices the throat of the person he decides the world is better off without ??

    why is it not just as “academically reasonable” to “discuss” the murder of one race of adults, or the murder of one religion of children, as it is to merely just discuss the murder of children in a general sense ??

    how is it that the murder of only muslim children would be immoral but that the murder of all children, muslims and Christians included, would be moral ??

    or how would it be that the murder of adult jews would be immoral but that the murder of all handicapped babies would be moral ??

    after all, when it comes down to the time to start the murder of these children; we will need to have some basis on which to proceed, will we not ??

    and there is no doubt that once this murder begins that the “omnipotent state” will want to get involved at some point; so what will be the parameters of acceptability when it comes to these child murders ??

    will the children of presidents be murdered to limit the reach of royal bloodlines into the general population ?? will the children of the poor be murdered to keep the uneducated masses from becoming too large of a voting block within a democracy ??
    or will only “ugly” children be murdered in order to provide a better “pick of the litter” for the hollywood elites to choose “stars” from ??

    and will you julian, define “ugly” ?? 

    or will the determination of “ugly” be left to your “most eminent” philosophers and bioethicists ??

    and speaking of supposed “eminent philosophers and bioethicists” julian, you state that infanticide and child murder is supported “by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world” …”singer, tooley, and harris”.

    REALLY julian ?? 

    who says that these 3 are “PREminent philosophers and bioethicists” ?? (which is clearly what you suggest by inference when you say, “most eminent”.)

    i would posit that these 3 are jack-asses.

    i would say that the current pope benedict XVI and the previous pope paul VI are far more accomplished and well known philosophers and bioethicists than these 3 clowns, and i am not even catholic. (and i will include pope john paul II for that matter, as well). 

    so may i suggest printing an encyclical from each of these 3 in response to the toilet papers of your “chosen” “most eminent” supposed greats and their progeny.

    you will even notice that pope paul VI in 1968 agreed with your conclusion that murdering infants and “fetuses” is the same thing, and also so would be the murder of 10 year olds, 30 year olds, 50 year olds, and 70 year olds, as well as all of those older and younger than those ages i just listed.

    so by your “most eminent” ethicists supposed “ethical” logic… which logic is clearly of the type of which i refer to as the “tail wagging the dog” variety; but using it as a guide, i should be able to “ethically” murder whoever i see fit; because as your “most eminent” guys say, one murder is just the same as the next murder, pre or post natal doesnt change anything.

    bingo !! so they are either arguing that ALL murder is ethical(moral) or that abortion is murder and not ethical(moral). 
    however, by choosing the first, they condemn themselves as would-be murderers; they do not absolve themselves of infanticide and child murder !!

    julian, if your, and their, supposed reasoning is not a circle-jerk modge-podge of confused stupidity i would certainly have a hard time defining something that was !! 
    so perhaps you could help me define something more objectively stupid !! lol !!

    …more stupid than where one outrageous crime(abortion) being over-looked thereby justifies an additional outrageous crime being committed !!(infanticide and child murder)

    and what is the title of your so obviously mis-labelled publication again ??

    “journal for medical ethics” ???????????????? excuse me ?? what was that again julian ??

    “for medical what” ????? WHAT ????

    “ethics” ????? 

    certainly a more appropriate title would be: 

    “ethics-less medical journal lacking any objectively sane premise”.

    and since you are so SUPPOSEDLY supportive of the “freedom of ethical expression”, and since you support the validity of infanticide based on the fact that it is practiced in the netherlands…

    now thats a good “support piling” on which to base morality… 

    “theyre doing it, so it must be ok, so why dont we do it too !!”

    may i also remind you julian that a country right next door to the netherlands remains UNBELIEVABLY FAMOUS WORLDWIDE for its supposed programs of post-natal abortion; perhaps youve even heard of this country and of its post-natal abortion programs. 

    the country was known as “nazi germany” and it supposedly post-natally aborted millions of jews, and supposedly nobody in the whole of the world thought that those programs were moral and hense we convened a globally sanctioned court and a series of famous trials at nuremberg WHERE THE SUPPOSED SUPPORTERS OF THOSE POST-NATAL ABORTIONS WERE TRIED AND THEN EXECUTED FOR MURDER, they were not acquitted for merely performing post-natal abortions !!

    so back to your “freedom of ethical expression” julian; i would suggest that you find a good radical supremacist of some sect to write a thesis on the “moral” validity and practical benefit of the post-natal abortion practiced in the netherlands, and how especially useful it could be if only it were to be more controlled by the state for the intellectual benefit of the next generation and if it were them also extended to children and then adults too.

    hey, if the right to live or die can be argued on one “moral” premise, such as whether you are deaf or ugly; then why cant it be “equally” “morally” argued on the basis of the cost to the state of attaining statistically equal intelligence among different infants, such as say; the difference in cost for the state between educating poor black children compared to wealthy white children.
    what is the cost to get both to the point of them becoming successful ?? 
    and if the blacks dont make the cut fiscally speaking… well then, just post-natally abort all of them, right julian ?? 
    and if a few of the blacks and most of the whites made the cut and were allowed to live but then they werent really performing up to expectations when they were 30, well then, just post-natally abort them too, right julian ??

    and what nationality and religion are you julian ?? im thinking that you just might be ostensible proof of a lack of objectivity in whatever 2 subsets you hail from, so im thinking that we might as well post-natally abort all of your type, OF ALL AGES, just to be on the safe side while we evaluate your types possible bad influence on the genetics of future peoples.

    but dont worry julian, we have the “most eminent” philosophers and bioethicists working for us, so it will be ok…

    … plus its ok, 'cause germany did it !!

    so julian, i guess you have finally convinced me of the honesty and practicality of your arguments(that was in jest.); so i will be looking forward to seeing that you published my response here in your journal, as well as those 3 encyclicals from the aforementioned popes, and while youre at it go ahead and publish some excerpts from some other well known philosophers and bioethicists, perhaps you may have even heard of some of these too:

    Jesus Christ, the apostle paul, benjamin franklin, thomas jefferson, samuel adams, mother teresa, mahatma gandhi, just to get you started.

    i dare say that these guys and gal are far more well known and respected and “eminent” than the purported “most eminent” jackasses that wrote this latest paper and/or the 3 whom you cite that support the same criminal savagery.

    and next you say that most of your negative feedback is anonymous…well my name is jeff talano(an italian like at least one of the sadistic murderous savage criminal authors the piece you carried) and i maintain that if newborns and children can be threatened with murder merely for not having cognizance of their own future hopes, goals, and aspirations, then adults who have no appreciation for those childrens futures should be able to be threatened with execution on the grounds of their lack of appreciation for those childrens future hopes, goals, and aspirations.

    and should these authors and their fellow supporting “most eminent” conspiratorical, criminal, sadist, savage, would-be murderers ever get their way and begin murdering children; then likewise i would support the JUSTIFIED execution(as it wouldnt be murder) of those murderers.

    and i would contentedly rest my justification of those justified executions on those far better known and far more respected philosophers and bioethicists listed by me herein, as well as i would also rest my defense on the document that founded my country(the united states), i.e. The Declaration of Independence(and those signatories as well), a MOST EMINENT document that so succinctly states, “to PROVE this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.”

    indeed, let them be re-submitted !!

    the most honorable and MOST EMINENT philosophers and bioethicsists, the Founders of the United States:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that THEY ARE ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR WITH CERTAIN UNALIENABLE RIGHTS, THAT AMONG THESE ARE LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men… That whenever ANY FORM OF GOVERNMENT becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government… But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, IT IS THEIR DUTY, TO THROW OFF SUCH GOVERNMENT, and to provide new guards for their future security.”


    so what about your “freedom of ethical expression” ?? 

    this is the gauntlet that americas founders threw down as they drew their swords; so when you cross over that bright line test of the UNALIENABLE RIGHT TO LIFE ENDOWED TO US BY OUR CREATOR, you cross over at your own peril… as it should be.

    so julian, consider yourself and your friends warned by “most eminent” men who are held in much higher esteem than myself or the idiots that you cite and publish.

    in truth and liberty, jeff

    ps and julian, may you one day cross over to join us in that truth and liberty.

  409. In your justification of publishing this “it's ok to murder babies” rhetoric, you use the words “well reasoned,” “widely accepted premises,” and “proceed logically” to describe the article-if you truly believe those words accurately describe the article-then, just as the authors do, you lack any kind of morality or conscious.  It's laughable that the likes of you and the authors hold yourselves out to be “academics” when in reality you are utterly clueless.  Get over yourself and find a conscious.

  410. I don't have any “aims” or appreciation of my life when I'm asleep or otherwise incapacitated ( for instance, under anesthetics?). Would that qualify me for after-birth abortion? Would that be the next “logical” step in their view? The “slippery slope” has reached a new and potentially catastrophic phase if these two “person's” views become accepted by the medical community.

  411. “Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life.”
    Giubilini and Minerva have just put in writing what every murderer and death camp administrator thinks in their heart.
    I wonder where there funding comes from? And why their views would make it past the peer review process and editorial review to basically get a free pass into the journal?
    And correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it a violation of most country's laws to advocate the killing of an identifiable group regardless of race,creed, orientation or AGE. What are the European Union's laws ( to which Giubilini and Minerva are subject) in this regard. Are babies an identifiable group based on their age?

  412. who are we as a people when any of us…Anyone of us. would for a micro second would consider the most hideous crime a human can commit. Now these eugenicists are trying to make an argument for MURDER OF A INFANT. We draw the LINE IN THE SAND.. THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN..  

  413. Fair question, but based on a false premise.  The soul is immaterial, but does need a body (cp orthodox Christian doctrine, the resurrection of the body) and is greatly influenced by what happens to it. We have to care what happens to the body – otherwise we get the horrifying sentence on the Cathars:  “Kill all: God will know His own”.

  414. ‘Continuous trajectory’?  There is an evident discontinuity at the point the sperm meets the ovum.

  415. .i.e., you feel it demonstrates the unsoundness of their major premise?  I think many people assumed on first reading it that it was ironic (a sneaky attack on the unfettered right to abortion) but the response of the authors has ruled that out.  It is however really useful.  Now we know that the conclusions of philosophers are not necessarily to be taken as guides to action in the real world, we need take little future notice of them.

  416. The Ten Commandments were given by God to the human race – He didn’t undertake to keep them Himself.  But certainly God’s morality is not what everyone would agree with – for example, was He right to give us freewill, when He knew perfectly well what the consequences would be?

  417. Why is it, Loony?  This has nothing to do with her response to this article, she’s entitled to her beliefs!

    Mod edit: Final bit deleted: there’s no need for name-calling.

  418. Perfectly proper, but a bit pointless, since no reasonable person would support it (…or, in the light of recent events, am I taking too much for granted?).

  419. “These Christians”? Clearly all Christian everywhere share all the MANY opinions and preferences of the previous commentator, including his love of caps lock!

  420. Johan, I sympathise with your attitude, but I don’t think you’re completely fair to Savulescu.  He isn’t (I think) saying that arguing for infanticide isn’t disturbing, but (he says) that isn’t a sufficient reason for disallowing it.  Nor is he saying that arguing against infanticide is disturbing.  He is saying that arguing against arguing for infanticide is more disturbing (to him, at least).  So he’s giving the priority to free speech (over prudence and common sense).

  421. Hmmm. This looks a bit ad hoc to me. But whereas you say I’m working from a false premise, I’d say the same back – after all, the idea of spooky ghosty soul stuff is the big challenge for me.

  422. Ad hoc?  I’m not sure I follow you.  The ‘false premise’ I believed you  were working from was that TonyU must necessarily believe that  the soul and the body are independent. Most Christians don’t.  I sympathise with your ‘spooky’ point.  As far as I’m concerned the soul is a premise I adopt – I recognise I can’t prove it.

  423. Ad hoc in the sense that it seems – at least to me – to be a sort of addendum added to a claim about the soul’s nature purely in order to protect that claim, and not independently argued for – sort of in a Popperian sense.

    Either that, or the kind of thing you’re describing is something along the lines of what Aristotle was talking about – but Aristotle is basically a naturalist, and I get the sense that that’s not what you have in mind after all…

  424. The single benefit of publishing that work was as a fine example of a LACK of ethics on the part of the authors.
    It has no other redeeming value.

  425. There is a significant difference between advocating something and saying it is morally permissible.

  426. The JME has distinguished itself by not only justifying infanticide, but also defending the article – outrageous.

  427. May I infer from your post that you are comfortable with someone else, me perhaps, saying it is morally permissible for another to kill you?

  428. It is to present well reasoned argument based on widely accepted premises

    aah the old logical fallacy Argumentum ad populum, So it is well reasoned because it is widely accepted? that’s logical. At least stand behind your decision to publish it, instead of weakly defending your bias by invoking the consensus of the widely accepted.

  429.  Well, national socialism was at the extreme left of the political spectrum. I can’t really think of a more prominent leftist than Hitler.

  430. This diatribe is one stinky Pandora’s box. That old debate for subhuman babies again? This is a college myth that never graduates because — only submoral young idiots or their myth leaders –who never gave birth, never held a baby in their arms, or looked into a baby’s eyes, or cleaned the dodo off of a baby’s butt would say the crying, hungry, tired, wrinkled and beautiful baby was not human. To assume authority over the life of a baby’s safety, while trying to drag “morality” into the equation? Naughty. Naughty.

    When we were one day, or three or thirty years old, if someone took us to a far off land where we had no money, clothes, or communications of any sort, and our arms and legs were so tired that we could not walk, what kind of a chance would we have for survival?

    If someone is depressed, should we allow them to die, or should we help them get away from their troubles, whether a bad relationship, drugs, abuse, poverty, etc.?

    On the largest economical scale, who are the main commercial financial benefactors from all the spare body parts, stem cells, etc.? 

  431. Perhaps the problem is that most people assume that an “ethicist” is in fact what the majority of humanity would term “ethical,”  when in fact an ethicist appears to be someone who discusses what is or is not ethical. 

    These “ethicists” have performed quite a service for the pro-life movement by pointing out that the newborn is different from the pre-born only in that the newborn has taken a breath.

  432.  This is the paragraph which most bothered me:

    “First, we do not put forward any claim about the moment at which after-birth abortion would no longer be permissible, and we do not think that in fact more than a few days would be necessary for doctors to detect any abnormality in the child. In cases where the after-birth abortion were requested for non-medical reasons, we do not suggest any threshold, as
    it depends on the neurological development of newborns, which is
    something neurologists and psychologists would be able to assess.”
    Do I understand this correctly? Does this suggest not only that infants can be killed after birth for being defective, but that they may also be killed if they are perfectly healthy, and more, that there is NO THRESHOLD beyond which it would no longer be permissible to carry out the “after-birth abortion”?

    Am I to understand that this means the parents, for any reason at all, would be justified in killing their child two weeks after the birth, and justified at two months after the birth, and justified for who knows how much longer after the birth, even if their child was completely healthy?

    Is there some reason objections to this are being treated as surprising? Do all of us honestly need years of education and scholarship for our objections to have any worth or validity? What we are discussing here is called MURDER in any court of law. It’s illegal. Even a lowly sort like myself can look that up.

    It is a sad, sad day for our world when supposed academics – men and women of science, medicine and philosophy – reach such a point of arrogance, such a point of hatred and vitriol for innocent life, and such a point of being out of touch with humanity as a whole that something like this would be seriously entertained for even a moment. On this day I am embarrassed to call myself a human being.

  433. On the contrary, the reasoning is that of the authors. The parallel I have drawn between terminating the life of a baby once born and an article once published illustrates what I see as the article’s flawed ethical position.

    Just as I have yet to be convinced of an ethical argument against freedom of expression (save for specific cases, for example, where a moderator acts to censor abusive, defamatory or hateful comments – something I support entirely in the interests of preserving the appropriate conditions for the exchange of ideas), I have yet to be convinced that the authors have demonstrated an argument that legitimates post-birth abortion.

  434. I appreciated the opportunity to read the article in full. 
    It is also I think a credit to you that you have engaged with so many of the comments made. You are to be commended for that show of respect, particularly in the face of such personal attacks and violent opposition.

  435. So, apparently, killing children makes sense to you, but people killing you in revenge doesn’t?  Sounds like your logic has a severe hole in it.  

    I suppose Nietzsche’s publisher felt the same way.   But we all know what happened to Germany 40 years later because of the choice to publish such lunacy under “academic freedom”.

  436. I wonder if David Hunter is comforable with someone arguing that it is morally permissible to kill him.

  437. Mod Edit: As I’ve said before, I’m not accepting comments that aren’t in English. If you want to translate and resubmit, go for it.

  438. Would you publish an article making an argument from a neo-Nazi that proceeded logically from stated premises that killing Jews is morally justified?  I doubt it.  The way you would feel about that is the way a lot of us feel about this.

  439. It’s baffling me that people are not seeing the logic behind it.

    They’re saying that abortion equals murder of a newborn.

    Isn’t that what all pro-lifers have been saying from the year dot?

    Dear Lordy, people are not reading between the lines.

  440. I wonder if the editors of the BMJ would have published-let alone defended-Murray and Herrnstein.

  441. To “advocate” can have the meaning to argue in behalf of a position or cause.
    Under the heading “Abortion and after-birth abortion”,
    4th paragraph, 3rd sentence reads:
    “Therefore, WE ARGUE THAT, when circumstances occur… what
    we call after-birth abortion should be permissable.”
    Under heading “Adoption as an alternative to after-birth abortion?” 3rd paragraph, 3rd sentence reads:
    ” What we are suggesting is that, if interests of actual people prevail, then after-birth abortion should be a permissable option.”
    If that’s not advocating then it’s pretty close to it.

  442. This is an serious issue of abortion after birth this should not be done with a new life who had just
    entered the the world.Of course, many people will argue that on this basis abortion should be recriminated. Those arguments can be well made and the Journal would publish a paper than made such a case coherently, originally and with application to issues of public or medical concern.

  443. Pedantic question: if the paper really did justify infanticide, wouldn’t that mean that it had been demonstrated to be permissible? Since you appear to deny this, you can’t think that the paper actually did justify it…

  444. I don’t think that that’s what was being claimed. The terms used in the paper have a technical meaning that would have been familiar to ethicists reading it. It’s a technical meaning that might not be familiar to non-ethicists; but, still, that’s what was meant by the “widely-accepted” bit.

  445.  Hi Belladonna, perfectly happy with someone arguing for this claim. Of course I’ll be very interested in the reasons they advance and whether their argument is sound. I suspect (at least if the quality of much of this commentary is anything to go by) it won’t be, so I might well argue back vigorously.

    And of course there is a significant difference between discussing a topic in abstract and proposing to actually do it.

  446. “The comments include openly
    racist remarks:

    “Alberto Giubilini looks like a
    muslim so I have to agree with him that all muslims should have been aborted.
    If abortion fails, no life at birth – just like he wants.”

    While that is an extremist remark,
    and that is an anti-Muslim remark, that is not a racist remark. A racist remark
    requires a remark involving the RACE, not the RELIGION of a group or an

    Savulescu, Editor, Journal of Medical Ethics, seems to be unfamiliar with the
    subject material

  447. “… Of course I’ll be very interested in the reasons they
    advance and whether their argument is sound … ”


    In re the soundness of the argument, it revolves around one
    or more justifications for killing citizens. I would prefer to avoid debating
    the metaphysics about when the humanity of an individual is manifest. I think
    it reasonable to take as given that, following birth, the human attains the
    status of a citizen, as recognized by successful State prosecutions for murder
    of infants.


    This leads to the question of why you should be entitled to
    argue your case any more vigorously than the newborn citizen who cannot yet


    That aside, I suggest the unrealized human potentiality in a
    newborn is greater than that remaining in you. You are already formed by and stamped
    with the norms of society, as realized in your articulated reply to my question,
    both of which incorporate many of its (society’s) conventions. The killing of an
    infant, when viewed from that perspective, is more deleterious (due to the
    unavoidably greater loss of that potential societal value) to society than is
    killing an adult, and you are an adult.


    “… And of course there is a significant difference
    between discussing a topic in abstract and proposing to actually do it …”

    If you review the history of the Latin West (the Latin West
    being specifically relevant to this ethical proposition, coming as it does through the auspices
    British Medical Journal), I believe you’ll find that justification
    for an activity, in this instance murder, commonly precedes the acting out of
    that activity. To advance the proposition that a certain group or category of
    citizens is less entitled to their right to life – merely due to their being members
    of that group or category – than is some other group of citizens, is to relegate
    the former group to a less human status than that of the later. An example of
    this is race slavery, where the race of a human was defined to sufficiently devalue
    members of that group so that members of that group could then be treated as


    So, no, there is but a trifling intellectual difference between
    providing a justification for murder, and pulling the trigger.


  448. There are problems with this article and here are my take on it.

    1. If you kill a baby that is born it is infanticide which is different from abortion. Hence the term used in this article is wrong.
    2. They  have no understanding of developmental psychology and biology.
    3. The authors have no compassion for humanity and one gets a chilling sense of cruelty in their tone of language.
    4. They use clever wording to get to the point they want to make and insult very intelligent people’s integrity and comprehension. Their arguments are not watertight.
    5. The editor has shown lack of responsibility both in allowing to publish this without a proper peer review process and in defending the article on personal, not professional grounds.
    6. Just the same as authors, the editor is complicit of advocating for infanticide.

    I find this paper very problematic and hard to digest just the same way as everyone else does. Firstly, these authors do not seem to have any understanding of developmental psychology and I am not sure of they have any training in medicine either. I want to know however who and what gives a ‘person’ more moral status than a human being? Why does a ‘person’ have ‘a moral right to life’ more than a human being? What is so special of a ‘person’ and having aims and goals? Hilter had lots of aims and goals; people who were doing slavery had lots of aims and goals. Do they have more moral status than a baby with a clean slate? I don’t think so.
    The authors say: 

    “Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribingsomeone a right to life.”We need to question what they mean by SOMEONE.They continue: “Indeed, many humans are not consideredsubjects of a right to life: spare embryos where research onembryo stem cells is permitted, fetuses where abortion ispermitted, criminals where capital punishment is legal.”

    Firstly, spare embryos are not humans, they might be future humans but they are not humans or newborn babies. Secondly, we need to debate about fetuses that are aborted separately where we consider each cases carefully. Thirdly, just because capital punishment legally exists in some countries does not mean that we should legally deny some human beings the right to live and allow infanticide just because someone, lets say like the authors, deems it acceptable. In my opinion, using the legal existence of capital punishment for criminals is misleading because criminals might be put to death if they kill someone or baby. It does not follow that because criminals are legally killed, it should be the case that babies can be legally killed too. Do I detect an undertone of policy implications here? 

    The authors also fail to specify what kind of mental development someone need to reach to entitle them to become a person and then to have the right to live. Also the fact that they use a premise that people will not be harmed if they are not in a condition to value different situation which is taken away from them is in itself morally suspect. What if I have a child who was born unconscious and does not know what life is like but a doctor can give him oxygen for an hour and the child will live happily after that. According to the authors it is permissible to kill this child simply because the child does not know what life is like. Isn’t there a moral flaw in this? There are a lot of situations where a new born does not know that they will be harmed by a decision that parents make at that time they are young but if they are good parents, compassionate parents, they do the compassionate and the morally right thing in looking after helpless children. Good parents would not reason, I will give the baby a cot death and it is ok because they will not be harmed by them. Isn’t killing harmful? If killing isn’t harmful what is harmful?

    The authors fail to give reasons and evidence that a new born is not harmed because it has no plans. However, because they are not even psychologists or medically trained and they do not have evidence to suggest that newborn babies have no plans to LIVE, their argument does not hold. How do they know if a newborn is not thinking: ” I have the plan to live”? They do not know that and they certainly are not qualified to know that. 

    I feel sorry for academia and those who are in the ivory tower who get tax payers money to spend their time plotting the justification of awful practices. I feel appalled by the authors and the editors lack of compassion and integrity. I am however very relieved that the public have still their humanity intact. 

  449. I have to say that I could not put this any better and when i was reading the lines that you use as an example I kept thinking this is wrong. Just because someone has deemed me unfit to live does not mean that it is morally the right thing to do. I agree with you completely. I hope that both the academic community and the public do something about this.

  450. There’s also a number of problems with your reply.
    After all, 1. isn’t really a counterargument: you’re just gainsaying G&M; there’s no reason at all to accept 2., since there’s no real difference developementally between a child a couple of hours before birth, and a couple of hours afterwards; 3., is just an ad hominem attack, and relied on the reader’s response to the paper rather than the paper itself; 4. seems simply to be a complaint that the writers are too intelligent – which is more of a bouquet than brickbat; there’s no reason to believe, as per 5., that the peer review process was defective, or that the defences of publication were on personal grounds; and it’s not clear that, as you claim in 6., infanticide was advocated: the strongest reading is that it might sometimes be defensible.

    The person/ human being distinction is absolutely standard in philosophy (and a number of other disciplines); the problem here seems to be a lack of familiarity with the arguments on your part, not the arguments themselves. And this speaks to the Hitler claim, too: you’ve simply missed the point of what’s meant by an appeal to moral status and personhood.

  451. “… If you kill a baby that is born it is infanticide
    which is different from abortion. Hence the term used in this article is wrong …”


    As many forms of abortion are generally accepted, but no
    forms of murder are, by redefining murdering babies shortly after birth as “post
    birth abortion”, the authors are attempting to recast this form of murder into
    a socially acceptable activity.

  452. I really do think that that’s a misreading. They aren’t trying to recast anything: they’re asking why infanticide is wrong, and whether it’s true that it always is. I don’t think there’s a particular agenda here beyond a desire to examine a certain moral claim – which is exactly what moral philosophers do.

  453. I think you would agree that calling your another name to suit your needs when you are in fact called Iain Brassington is misleading and it not a good academic standard. 
    My points were more related to the knowledge gained from psychology which is actually more informative then a thought experiment. This debate about medical ethics, it is suppose to education people who have medical background are interested in bioethics. To my judgement, the paper fails to do so and if it use standard philosophy it should have been published else where hence making point 5 still stand. 

  454. But noone is renaming anything to suit their needs. And the paper would inform people with a background in medicine – but an academic journal is about being at the cutting edge of debate: it’s not a textbook. Therefore it’s reasonable to assume a degree of familiarity with the state of the debate – just as a scientific journal would assume familiarity with the state of the debate in a given field.

  455.  Excellent response, lets take it in parts shall we.

    “I would prefer to avoid debating the metaphysics about when the humanity of an individual is manifest”.

    This seems to be the main problem many people have with the argument that is presented in the paper (which I’ll remind you I don’t endorse, I just endorse the authors being allowed to publish it) but it seems to rest on a fundamental assumption – namely that moral status (what you are using “humanity” to mean is straightforward and obvious. Yet clearly it is not, otherwise there wouldn’t be the tragic history of people who we now think of as having moral status once being believed to have been without it. Likewise there wouldn’t be disagreement about the status of animals, foetuses, embryos and so on.

    It is precisely because there is no obvious answer to the question of what has moral status that we need papers discussing this, and arguments about what does count morally.

    “This leads to the question of why you should be entitled to argue your case any more vigorously than the newborn citizen who cannot yet speak.”

    I was wondering whether you would pick up on that – I’d suggest anything (babies, foetuses, animals, trees etc) that might have moral status deserves to have someone arguing vigorously on its behalf otherwise how we will figure out what does and what doesn’t count morally, if they can’t argue for themselves (and even if they can) then someone else should advocate for them. Fortunately that is exactly what happens in the marketplace of ideas that academic practice constitutes. What doesn’t help settle things is people threatening people who raise questions – otherwise we would never have been able to move from what once was thought to be straightforward and obvious – that people of a certain skin color didn’t matter morally.

    “That aside, I suggest the unrealized human potentiality in a newborn is greater than that remaining in you”
    Interesting argument, lets delve into it a bit. The first question we might ask is why ought we value potentiality over actuality? So it might be the case that my death will cost society more than that of a newborn – we seem to think this in some cases – suppose there is a fire in an IVF clinic and you can save either 5 yet to be implanted embryos or one baby who has been left in the clinic for no apparent reason, which should you save? My intuitions lean strongly towards saving the baby despite the much greater unrealised potential of the 5 embryos…

    ” I believe you’ll find that justification for an activity, in this instance murder, commonly precedes the acting out of that activity.”

    Two things here, firstly it isn’t a paper in the BMJ it is a paper in a journal owned by the BMJ group. Secondly and rather more importantly for your argument this looks like a straightforward fallacy – while it is true that actions will typically follow justifications it doesn’t follow that justifications always or even commonly lead to actions.

  456. I know, that’s why I suggested fallible. The word prior to the word fallible in your sentence was ‘in’ and it didn’t make sense (to quote, “Very, very misguided and dangerous assumptions to make as to the ‘value’ of one live by mere in fallible humans.” ), so I was trying to clarify what you were saying. 🙂

  457. Right: so if they’re unconvincing, why worry about the policy implications? Why not just write a paper showing why (not asserting that) the arguments fail?

  458. One of the most best responses to the facile arguments put forward by the Editor. The responses to the article have nothing to do with arguments about free speech. They have everything to do with preventing society from lurching to the right. Yet again the left (I count myself  as left wing) is in danger of allowing Nazi views to circulate as acceptable in some mistaken belief there are no limits on what is acceptable. The law protects us as disabled people from article like this, what the Web did was alert to these repugnant views far more quickly.

  459. A quick question, then: granted that people are fallible, and any given view might turn out to be ill-founded, how do we know what is acceptable or unacceptable, save by allowing and nurturing free debate?

    Here’s my worry – that at least some of the responses have been along the lines of “I dislike the conclusion, therefore the argument must be wrong”. If a physicist tried this tactic, he’d not be taken seriously. Why should it be different with ethics?

    And isn’t it potentially rather sinister if, when faced with a controversial claim, the response is not to engage with it and show why it’s mistaken, but simply to insist that it should never have been made at all? (At the very least, it’s a strategic mistake on the part of the objector, since there’s no opportunity to show why a claim is wrong if articulating it is forbidden from the off…)

  460. “… It is precisely because there is no obvious answer to the question of what has moral status that we need papers discussing this, and arguments about what does count morally …”

    You are mistaken. All humans are, following birth, citizens, the willful taking of whose lives is murder. That you endorse the publication of endorsements of murder is itself unethical. You need not have invested the more than 100 words preceding the quote attempting to justify your endorsement.

    “… I’d suggest anything (babies, foetuses, animals, trees etc) that might have moral status deserves to have someone arguing vigorously on its behalf otherwise how we will figure out what does and what doesn’t count morally …”

    You however, are arguing on behalf of those to publish intellectual justifications for murder.

    “… The first question we might ask is why ought we value potentiality over actuality? …”

    Because the potentiality, not having yet occurred, has no upper bound, while the actuality, being measurable, does.

    “… Two things here, firstly it isn’t a paper in the BMJ it is a paper in a journal owned by the BMJ group …”

    Irrelevant nonsense. What I posted was “… through the auspices British Medical Journal …” through which it was. Try your Straw Man arguments with those who will indulge you.

    “… Secondly and rather more importantly for your argument this looks like a straightforward fallacy – while it is true that actions will typically follow justifications it doesn’t follow that justifications always or even commonly lead to actions …”

    As I did not say that it followed “that justifications always or even commonly lead to actions”, there was no fallacy involved.

    What I posted was “If you review the history of the Latin West (the Latin West being specifically relevant to this ethical proposition, coming as it does through the auspices British Medical Journal), I believe you’ll find that justification for an activity, in this instance murder, commonly precedes the acting out of that activity.”

    Simplified: If you take measurements (review the history of the Latin West) you’ll find (the evidence will support) that  intellectual justification usually precedes the action. Please avoid selective quoting.

    You are again mistaken.

  461. “I really do think that that’s a misreading …”
    Abortion is a life-terminating event acted out by one upon another that occurs prior to birth, while murder is one such following birth. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, even if it requires misuse of the language.

    “… They aren’t trying to recast anything: …”
    It is obvious that they are doing exactly that. Were they not attempting to do so, they would not need to employ euphemisms.

    “… they’re asking why infanticide is wrong …”Because it is equivalent to murder.

    “… I don’t think there’s a particular agenda here beyond a desire to examine a certain moral claim – which is exactly what moral philosophers do.”
    Then the authors should have articulated their propositions in such fashion and eschewed obfuscation, unless, of course, that is exactly what moral philosophers do.

  462. There’s too much here to address in one go. But citizenship is a red herring: the fact that we do accord a particular status to some entities doesn’t imply that we ought.

    Similarly, murder is a legal concept: what G&M are asking has implications for what counts as murder, though – so you’re begging the question against them on that.

    Your potentiality point is puzzling. What does it mean? It’s tempting to interpret it as saying that people who might possibly exist count for more than those who do. But that’s nuts, so can’t be what you mean. In which case, the question stands: what do you mean?

  463. Whatever the merits and problems of the paper, I see no obfuscation. An explanation of the terminology is offered. Nor do I see any euphemisms. (But suppose they’d opted to use the word “infanticide” – would you be more likely to accept the argument then?)

  464. As the Editor, Julian Savulescu, does not even know what the term “racist” describes, I lean more towards him being incompetent rather than out of touch. Still, ether evaluation would describe the symptoms, so I must admit that the jury is still out about that.

  465. “Whatever the merits and problems of the paper, I see no obfuscation …”
    Were it not for the misuse of language to present the wolf of murder I the sheep’s covering of abortion, I would agree with you. As that did occur, you are mistaken.

    “… An explanation of the terminology is offered …”

    None would have been needed had the authors, the publication of which you so stoutly defend, used language honestly.

    “… Nor do I see any euphemisms … ”

    Then you must have overlooked the used of the expression “After-birth abortion”, which is passing strange, as that figures prominently in the title.

    “… (But suppose they’d opted to use the word “infanticide” – would you be more likely to accept the argument then?)”

    Their arguments would have remained just as flawed, but the probability that their paper would have been published would have been lower, as arguing to justify infanticide could be construed as being accessories before the fact of a crime – infanticide – a form of murder.

  466. “There’s too much here to address in one go …”
    Perhaps when you feel up to the challenge, then.

    “… But citizenship is a red herring …”
    You mischaracterize it by describing it so. A citizen, old or just out of the birth canal is entitled to life. Arbitrarily killing you, a citizen is equivalent to the same act towards a newborn. Incidentally, unless you are unusual that way, killing you will, in all probability deprive you of less life than killing an infant.

    “… the fact that we do accord a particular status to some entities doesn’t imply that we ought …”
    I couldn’t agree with you more.

    “… Similarly, murder is a legal concept …”
    Which can be argued using ethical terminology. Oh puleeese!

    “… what G&M are asking has implications for what counts as murder …”
    Finally! Yes, you have finally acknowledged that their paper endorses killing (very much) innocent people due their membership in a group or class. Their arguments attempt to systematize killing that group because, they claim, doing so is not unethical.

    “…so you’re begging the question against them on that …”
    Wrong again. I’m pointing out that their paper attempts to warrant or justify that unethical behavior.

    “…Your potentiality point is puzzling …”
    Let us assume for the sake of argument that you do, in fact, not understand the proposition. What part of it is difficult? Is it that as the actually you introduced can, by being measurable (else it is not actual, no?) compared to the immeasurable future possibilities of the infant? What is so difficult about that?

  467. Your claim about entitlement to life is still begging the question, though, as is your claim that the paper attempts to justify unethical behaviour. Whether or not it’s permissible is precisely the point the paper addresses. (And if it succeeds in justifying it, then that shows that it’s justified – and so what’s the problem after all?)

    I still don’t know what you’re driving at with the potentiality point.

  468. I still don’t buy your claims about euphemism or obfuscation. Whether or not the terminology was necessary or the best is one thing; but I don’t think that anything was smuggled in: that an explanation of the term was offered is proof of that.

    I suspect that the chance of publication would have been just as high, though, just because the whole point of an ethics journal is to test moral propositions; and the idea that by doing so one is or could be an accessory to murder is simply nuts.

  469. “Your claim about entitlement to life is still begging the question …”

    May the difference between you and a baby be represented as the difference in age? Yes.
    Do you claim entitlement to your life? Yes. Can you feel pain? Yes. Can the baby feel pain? Yes. Are the vast range of physiological human processes the same in the baby as they are in you? Yes.
    Unless you arbitrarily redefine as “better”, the life you live due to your age as being more human than the life a baby lives due to its age, then the baby is as entitled to its life as you are to yours.

    Having demonstrated that my claim of a baby’s entitlement to life is not, in fact, begging the question, you remain mistaken in your endorsement of those who endorse murder.

    “… I still don’t know what you’re driving at with the potentiality point.”

    Restating that you remain ignorant is not progress. In my previous post I asked 4 specific questions in an attempt to gain sufficient insight into that ignorance that I might be able to restate the proposition in a fashion accessible to you. You replied to none of them.

  470. “I still don’t buy your claims about euphemism or obfuscation. Whether or not the terminology was necessary or the best is one thing …”
    Having demonstrated by reviewing the evidence – the words the authors used – in the light provided by the meaning of their words in English – the language the authors used – that more clear and concise descriptive expressions were immediately at hand, your decision to buy or not buy becomes moot.

    “… I don’t think that anything was smuggled in …”
    Nor did I say that anything was. The editor, while apparently ignorant of the meaning of the word ‘racist’, is, I presume, quite as familiar with the terminology used as are we. He knew quite well that the paper was an attempt to warrant murder.

    “… that an explanation of the term was offered is proof of that …”
    That such an explanation was deemed necessary is, indeed, ample proof of my claim.

    “… I suspect that the chance of publication would have been just as high, though, … ”
    Nonsense. To substantiate your contention you would need to demonstrate that the rate of publication of papers endorsing criminal behavior was as high as the rate of publication of paper NOT endorsing criminal behavior. Good luck with that.

    “… just because the whole point of an ethics journal is to test moral propositions …”
    The point was to get the paper published.

    “… and the idea that by doing so one is or could be an accessory to murder is simply nuts.”If it pleases you to consider those who disagree with you, irrespective of the arguments or evidence (the wording of the paper in question) provided to substantiate other POVs as insane, then do feel free to do so.

  471.  In re obfuscation – the point you are missing here is that this requires the intent to deceive – if there was this, then why provide an explanation and argument for using the term as you do.

    Plenty of papers have been published in a variety of journals arguing that infanticide is morally permissible (several more prominent ones are outlined by the editor above) so I don’t think your point in regards publication is either well argued norcharitablle.

  472.  I’m sensing that really we are just arguing past each other here but anyway…

    “You are mistaken. All humans are, following birth, citizens, the willful taking of whose lives is murder.”
    This is of course culturally and country and time relative – it is nowhere near as universal claim as you are making here.

    “You however, are arguing on behalf of those to publish intellectual justifications for murder.”
    Again you are just presuming what is at stake in the debate – it is only murder if the things being discussed have moral status. But the more important point is I am arguing in favor of having discussions, and I would argue just as strongly for someone to be allowed to argue (reasonably) the other side.

    “Because the potentiality, not having ye