Many people today are asking the question: "Why does it seem like the
level of infanticide has risen? What's happening? How can we stop it?"
I have a hypothesis - perhaps it is the dehumanizing of infants and lack
of respect for life that is causing this problem. Before dismissing this
possibility, take a moment to listen to what some well-known people have
been saying recently.
On Sunday, November 2 1997, the New York Times carried an article by Steven Pinker, a professor of
psychology at the august Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Pinker seriously suggests infanticide as a legal
Pinker argues as follows: Killing a newborn infant should not be penalized
as harshly as killing an older child. "To a biologist, birth is as
arbitrary a milestone as any other," Pinker says. Pinker says babies
aren't real people because they don't have "an ability to reflect upon
(themselves) as a continuous locus of consciousness, to form and savor
plans for the future, to dread death and to express the choice not to die.
And there's the rub: Our immature neonates don't possess these traits any
more than mice do."
Babies aren't real people? Infants can't express the choice not to die?
Where else have we heard this argument?
"The fetus is not a real person, thus, it is my right to have an
"The fetus can't reason, and the fetus does not know what death is."
I have often asked why is it legal to abort a child in the womb but that
the same child, if not in the womb, suddenly has rights? In March 1998 in
New Jersey, a girl gave birth a day before she was supposed to go to a
clinic for an abortion. The girl was farther along than she realized, and
she gave birth in her home, and in the attempt to hide the newborn, she
ended up killing the infant. She is now being brought up on manslaughter
charges. How ironic that she could have aborted the next day under her
legal "right to choose."
Is it any wonder that girls are throwing their newborns in trashcans? If
they could have aborted the child that same day, why would they have a
problem with disposing of the child right after birth?
I have also said that a lack of respect for life within the womb would
lead to lack of respect for life outside of the womb. When I suggested
this, people would usually respond "Oh come ON! How can you make such a
wild connection between abortion and the killing of born children? That's
Is it ridiculous? Let's look at some more statements by Pinker.
According to Pinker, "Several moral philosophers have concluded that
neonates (infants) are not persons, and thus neonaticide (killing an
infant) should not be classified as murder."
Pinker favors a system where "A new mother will first coolly assess the
infant and her situation" and then decide whether to keep the baby or kill
Pinker is not the only academic arguing for infanticide. Michael Tooley,
a philosophy professor at the University of Colorado, makes the SAME
argument. Tooley has argued that there should be "some period of time,
such as a week after birth, as the interval during which infanticide will
be permitted." (Philosophy & Public Affairs 2 (Fall 1972) pp. 37-65 (c) 1972 Princeton University Press)
Other "philosophers" have argued that parents should be
able to kill their children "up to the time the (baby) learns how to use
Tooley believes that parents would like to kill infants "suffering from
severe physical, emotional, or intellectual handicaps;" in other words,
children that would be a burden to their parents or to society.
Kill infants because they have a severe physical, emotional, or
intellectual handicap? To many, this would sound discriminatory toward the
handicapped, but is this really a surprise? How often are abortions done
because the fetus has a physical or mental handicap? These abortions are
often seen as justified because of the "horrible life" the child will
supposedly have. Is it any wonder then that people would suggest that
perhaps we should dispose of such infants when born? After all, what if
the handicap was not detected prior to birth? Shouldn't the woman have the
same "right to choose" to end the child's life after birth, just as a
woman who detected the abnormality while in the womb had the right
to choose to end the unborn's life while in the womb?
Furthermore, Tooley believes that if moral objections to infanticide were
removed "the happiness of society could be significantly and justifiably
increased." Interesting argument, and one that reminds me of one of the
arguments often used to justify abortion.
Do you find arguments in favor of infanticide outrageous? Think about
this -- if you're an American taxpayer, you help subsidize such thinking.
Both MIT and the University of Colorado, like most every other bastion of
"higher education" in the United States, are subsidized with tax monies.
But then, are these arguments that outrageous when you consider that
abortion is legal through all nine months of pregnancy?
Ironically, medical advancement and the discoveries of the actual human
qualities of the fetus may actually be used to justify infanticide if
abortion is kept legal. Years ago, before sonograms, before people like
Lenart Nilsson took stunning
photos of an unborn child, it was much easier
to define the fetus as a "blob of cells" and not equate any humanness with
the unborn. Thus, it was easier to justify abortion because many believed
that what was inside the womb was nothing but "a blob" and not really
human. However, medical technology has given us the opportunity to
actually see the unborn, to save premature babies earlier and earlier,
and to even perform fetal surgery. It is increasingly difficult to say
that the unborn is "just a blob of cells" when presented with current
medical evidence that fetus is indeed human. Thus, the current common
argument for legalized abortion is that the fetus may be human, but it is
not a "full human" or a "person" or a human with the same rights as you
and I. Once we start acknowledging a class system for humans - a class
system which determines at what developmental level a human has the "full
rights" of a person - what is to keep us from applying the same class
system to born, as well as unborn children? We could before say that the
unborn was not human, and since everyone considered a newborn human, it
was easy to keep the abortion mentality from creeping up towards
infanticide. But now that we acknowledge that it is justifiable to
terminate the life of a certain class of humans (the unborn) what is to
keep us from extending that class to day-old infants?
Legal abortion was supposed to make "every child a wanted child." So far,
this questionable goal has not been met whatsoever, since infanticide
seems to be on the rise, and so is child abuse. So, for those who wonder
how we can stop infanticide, I have an answer - stop violence in the womb,
and perhaps we will have less violence outside the womb as well.