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Article in Journal of Medical Ethics on Post-Birth Abortion creating

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Galteeth
#1
Feb29-12, 10:30 AM
P: 320
http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/201...41eebe19#ref-3

When I first read this, I assumed it was an inspired piece of satire, since the parallels to "A Modest Proposal" seem so obvious. Apparently not.

"However, having a child can itself be an unbearable burden for the psychological health of the woman or for her already existing children,1 regardless of the condition of the fetus. This could happen in the case of a woman who loses her partner after she finds out that she is pregnant and therefore feels she will not be able to take care of the possible child by herself....

In spite of the oxymoron in the expression, we propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide’, to emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child. Therefore, we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk. "

I can imagine this will be an intense discussion, and one that cannot avoid the wedge issue of abortion, but I'd be interesting in hearing what people think of this argument.
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dipole
#2
Feb29-12, 10:38 AM
P: 436
I don't have the energy or patience to really get involved in this kind of a discussion, but I just want to say that at some point there needs to be a line drawn. Mentally handicapped people are a terrible burden on their families, should we not just execute them for convenience?

And is it any less traumatizing to give birth to a baby and then kill it, rather than to suffer the hardship of raising and caring for it? This whole thing seems way off, and this sort of thing does not do pro-choice people a favor when defending their positions.
Galteeth
#3
Feb29-12, 10:43 AM
P: 320
Quote Quote by dipole View Post
I don't have the energy or patience to really get involved in this kind of a discussion, but I just want to say that at some point there needs to be a line drawn. Mentally handicapped people are a terrible burden on their families, should we not just execute them for convenience?

Where would you draw the line at "mentally handicapped?"

Note: For the purpose of this discussion, we should probably use sarcasm tags. I can't tell if the mentally handicapped statement was meant as sarcasm.

Office_Shredder
#4
Feb29-12, 10:49 AM
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Article in Journal of Medical Ethics on Post-Birth Abortion creating

Wow, this is pretty extreme, thanks for posting about it.

One of the main arguments for abortion is that while adoption is nice, the pregnancy itself is a large negative quality of life factor. It seems like once you've had the child, that argument is null.... why can't they just put the baby up for adoption?

Indeed, many humans are not considered subjects of a right to life: spare embryos where research on embryo stem cells is permitted, fetuses where abortion is permitted, criminals where capital punishment is legal.
I hate that they describe embryos as humans without a right to life, given that the main argument for why early abortions are OK is that embryos aren't humans in any meaningful sense of the word.

. Or a person might be ‘harmed’ if something were done to her at the stage of fetus which affects for the worse her quality of life as a person (eg, her mother took drugs during pregnancy), even if she is not aware of it. However, in such cases we are talking about a person who is at least in the condition to value the different situation she would have found herself in if she had not been harmed
I don't understand how a crack baby is any more harmed than a baby which is killed immediately after birth. I assume they are referring to supernatural intelligence that comes with your mom getting high while pregnant. Or perhaps the crack baby is only considered to be harmed once they're old enough to realize they've been harmed, which hardly seems fair to the kid that gets killed before he can reach that age.

I have to go but I'll be back to discuss this more
MarcoD
#5
Feb29-12, 10:55 AM
P: 98
Uninteresting. Of course you can kill infants within an ethical model. The Spartans butchered every newborn with visible defects. People in the west decided upon that persons shouldn't be killed since all human life has value.

Moreover, people the drew a somewhat arbitrary line on a number of weeks from which we consider a fetus a person. I read the article as an absurd argument to show -again- that that line is arbitrary. Maybe the guy is religious, maybe the guy wants to generate some attention.

(Though I think I am somewhat against what they decided in the Netherlands on euthenasia of suffering infants.)
ThomasT
#6
Feb29-12, 11:10 AM
P: 1,414
Quote Quote by MarcoD View Post
Uninteresting. Of course you can kill infants within an ethical model. The Spartans butchered every newborn with visible defects. People in the west decided upon that persons shouldn't be killed since all human life has value.

Moreover, people the drew a somewhat arbitrary line on a number of weeks from which we consider a fetus a person. I read the article as an absurd argument to show -again- that that line is arbitrary.
I hadn't thought about it this way. It makes a certain sort of sense to kill potentially defective infants. But I doubt that anything like this is going to become policy in the foreseeable future.
Galteeth
#7
Feb29-12, 11:11 AM
P: 320
Quote Quote by MarcoD View Post
I read the article as an absurd argument to show -again- that that line is arbitrary. Maybe the guy is religious, maybe the guy wants to generate some attention.
I thought that too at first, but here are some other articles by Francesca Minerva, one of the article's two authors.

http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk...moting-sadism/

http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2011/07/1782/

http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk...-and-sabotage/

It's pretty clear that Dr. Minerva is neither religious nor trying to make an absurd argument. As far as the "attention" angle, possibly, although all writers want attention for their work.
Galteeth
#8
Feb29-12, 11:17 AM
P: 320
Quote Quote by ThomasT View Post
I hadn't thought about it this way. It makes a certain sort of sense to kill potentially defective infants. But I doubt that anything like this is going to become policy in the foreseeable future.
A note from my own personal life- I have a particular gene, HLA-B27, which is strongly correlated with developing auto-immune disease. At one time, I was in favor of the notion of everyone with this gene voluntarily not reproducing. 95% of people with Ankylosing Spondylitis have HLA-B27.

But then I learned that having HLA-B27 gives me an extreme resistance to AIDS. And only (this number I am less sure of, it;s from memory) about six percent of people with HLA-B27 develop an auto-immune disease.

I am not opposed to the idea of voluntary applied eugenics. However, I think the reality is, we are not at a point in our understanding of genetics and biology that we can intelligently make a lot of those decisions. There may be some cases where we absolutely now a certain gene or mutation is harmful, but even then, i think a better option is developing means to genetically engineer fetuses, rather then abortion, whether it be pre- or post-birth.
thorium1010
#9
Feb29-12, 11:37 AM
P: 200
Quote Quote by Galteeth View Post
A note from my own personal life- I have a particular gene, HLA-B27, which is strongly correlated with developing auto-immune disease. At one time, I was in favor of the notion of everyone with this gene voluntarily not reproducing. 95% of people with Ankylosing Spondylitis have HLA-B27.
Why were you tested for HLA B27 ?
MarcoD
#10
Feb29-12, 11:47 AM
P: 98
Quote Quote by Galteeth View Post
It's pretty clear that Dr. Minerva is neither religious nor trying to make an absurd argument. As far as the "attention" angle, possibly, although all writers want attention for their work.
Ah, ok. Well, it's certainly possible and you can give it an ethical base. Nobody likes unnecessary suffering. A bit too extreme for my feeling, but I never gave it much thought. Something for the democratic process, I guess.

(Though, personally: Economic cost vs human lives? I try not to Godwin, but to me that really feels like "And let's gas all jews while we're at it anyway.")
WhoWee
#11
Feb29-12, 12:03 PM
P: 1,123
Quote Quote by Galteeth View Post
http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/201...41eebe19#ref-3

When I first read this, I assumed it was an inspired piece of satire, since the parallels to "A Modest Proposal" seem so obvious. Apparently not.

"However, having a child can itself be an unbearable burden for the psychological health of the woman or for her already existing children,1 regardless of the condition of the fetus. This could happen in the case of a woman who loses her partner after she finds out that she is pregnant and therefore feels she will not be able to take care of the possible child by herself....

In spite of the oxymoron in the expression, we propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide’, to emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child. Therefore, we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk. "

I can imagine this will be an intense discussion, and one that cannot avoid the wedge issue of abortion, but I'd be interesting in hearing what people think of this argument.
Who do we trust to make this type of decision? Is it fair to allow a junkie mother to make such a decision? Who's to say the baby isn't the more (viable) human being (than the junkie mother) - especially if she's had muliple post-birth abortions?
ThomasT
#12
Feb29-12, 12:05 PM
P: 1,414
Quote Quote by Galteeth View Post
I am not opposed to the idea of voluntary applied eugenics. However, I think the reality is, we are not at a point in our understanding of genetics and biology that we can intelligently make a lot of those decisions. There may be some cases where we absolutely now a certain gene or mutation is harmful, but even then, i think a better option is developing means to genetically engineer fetuses, rather then abortion, whether it be pre- or post-birth.
I'm personally opposed to the sort of thing that the article seems to be advocating, or that the Spartans did, or the Nazis ... whatever. Call me an old softy. But I think that, collectively, we're strong enough to take care of the weak, challenged, strange ones among us. I don't want to see this sort of policy, killing newborn babies for some/any reason, enacted. But MarcoD does bring up a perplexing point ... when does a fetus become something that a mother doesn't have the moral justification to kill?
Galteeth
#13
Feb29-12, 12:10 PM
P: 320
Quote Quote by thorium1010 View Post
Why were you tested for HLA B27 ?
Unfortunately, I wasn't untill 5 years after I had developed ankylosing spondylitis. I eventually sought out a top physiatrist who diagnosed me. All previous doctors, including a rheumatologist, didn't know what it was.


Quote Quote by thorium1010 View Post
can provide any resources for this.
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal...ture08997.html

"Without therapy, most people infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) ultimately progress to AIDS. Rare individuals (‘elite controllers’) maintain very low levels of HIV RNA without therapy, thereby making disease progression and transmission unlikely. Certain HLA class I alleles are markedly enriched in elite controllers, with the highest association observed for HLA-B57 (ref. 1)"

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21302207

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2708622/

"For a subset of 110 treatment-naïve individuals with PHI, viral-load set points 6 months after infection were available. In line with previous observations, subjects expressing the strongly protective HLA class I alleles HLA-B57 and HLA-B27 (n = 19) showed a significantly lower average viral set point, with 20,749 copies/ml (range, 418 to 94,400 copies/ml) compared to the 91 subjects who did not express these protective HLA class I alleles (average viral set point, 55,140 copies/ml; range, 49 to 588,000 copies/ml; P = 0.009) (see Fig. S1 in the supplemental material)."

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/...-92949829.html

"in previous research, scientists identified another gene in elite controllers called HLA-B27. The presence of either gene seems to stave off AIDS in people infected with HIV."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15332431

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/...l.pmed.0030403

"For all four HLA-A alleles studied, the magnitude of HIV-1-specific CD8+ T cell responses restricted during primary infection was dramatically lower in the presence of HLA-B27 and -B57, but not in the presence of other HLA-B alleles. These data suggest a selective disadvantage of CD8+ T cell responses restricted by these alleles in the presence of HLA-B27 and -B57, and is consistent with the concept of immunodomination by HLA-B27- and HLA-B57-restricted HIV-1-specific CD8+ T cell responses [38]."
CAC1001
#14
Feb29-12, 12:47 PM
P: 18
Quote Quote by MarcoD View Post
Moreover, people the drew a somewhat arbitrary line on a number of weeks from which we consider a fetus a person. I read the article as an absurd argument to show -again- that that line is arbitrary. Maybe the guy is religious, maybe the guy wants to generate some attention.
A baby can be born as early as 24 weeks, which is the second trimester, albeit that early is asking for some real trouble. 90%+ of babies born at the beginning of the third trimester (28 weeks and up) survive fine thanks to modern medical technology. I think abortion should be permitted, but once the fetus is a baby (determined by things such as is it sentient to pain and mental activity), I'd limit it to if the woman's life is threatened. Most abortions occur during the first trimester (over 90%); veeeery few occur during the third trimester, so that doesn't seem to be much of an issue.

I think the issue of the sanctity of human life and how it is regarded by the State is akin to freedom of speech. You can infringe on it during certain limited circumstances, but it otherwise needs to be regarded as something cherished and protected by the State overall. For example, if free speech was made no longer a right in America, I doubt we'd turn into North Korea, but it could lead to dangers down the road. Same with if the State doesn't regard human life as something to protect. We actually did have such an issue with eugenics policy during part of the 20th century in which many women were forcibly sterilized, as they were deemed "unfit" to reproduce. An issue like eugenics, which in the form of abortion can be seen as protecting women's rights, can also be used to infringe on a woman's rights, and something like aborting "unfit" born babies could be such a slippery slope. Because if you argue you can kill a born baby off, you could probably stretch the argument to you could forcibly sterilize certain members of society who shouldn't be reproducing in the first place (mentally-ill people, people with drug problems, etc...).

On the issue of abortion, I think both sides make good points (a woman has a right to make decisions regarding her body, however, there is also another person growing inside, or at least it's a person after a certain point). Unfortunately, the debate seems to too often be populated by the radicals (you get the far-left types who want no limits on even third-trimester abortions, and maybe even support "after-birth" abortions, then the Rick Santorum types who are against even birth control and if the woman's life is threatened from the pregnancy, well it's in God's hands).

Quote Quote by ThomasT View Post
But MarcoD does bring up a perplexing point ... when does a fetus become something that a mother doesn't have the moral justification to kill?
No one knows fully the answer to this question, but I think things like mental activity and being sentient to pain have to be looked at. Even then it's confusing because just because a fetus may not feel pain doesn't mean it's not a baby. And on mental activity, well a newborn baby isn't exactly aware of its surroundings very much either, so that is limited too.
MarcoD
#15
Feb29-12, 02:46 PM
P: 98
No, these are actually very well known discussions. The technical term for an economic argument w.r.t. the ending of life is 'incommensurable;' basically, incomparable entities. You can reject the argument on the basis of that, if you believe all human life cannot be given monetary value. Apart from that, you can reject the argument on the basis of, in essence, dung happens; it belongs to the risk of having a baby that it can be deformed and monetary loss from that is irrelevant. Like the risk you take when you buy a house, it can always burn down.

Or you can take the argument that economic loss does matter, and that therefor you can kill anyone who gives you economic loss of some form. A bit too much Ayn Rand, and also opens up a can of worms in the direction of: Why can't I rob a bank?

For those who professionalize in medical ethics I really think the article just reads as a teaser. Something to analyze and see how the reasoning goes; I don't believe they'll take it seriously. But to most people that is, of course, academic nitpicking.
Galteeth
#16
Feb29-12, 04:17 PM
P: 320
The editor of the JME seems like a bit of a creep.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Savulescu
MarcoD
#17
Feb29-12, 04:41 PM
P: 98
Quote Quote by Galteeth View Post
The editor of the JME seems like a bit of a creep.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Savulescu
Yeah, he does. I realized my above arguments are basically my values and not absolutes. Of course you can do eugenetics. It's just very unfavorable in my country because of fascism. The Nazis loved the social darwinistic argument, and glorified Spartan infanticide/eugenetics.

Maybe he means well, no idea, I don't know his arguments, but I sincerely doubt they'll really stick, or I'll agree with them.
Gokul43201
#18
Feb29-12, 04:43 PM
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Quote Quote by MarcoD View Post
Or you can take the argument that economic loss does matter, and that therefor you can kill anyone who gives you economic loss of some form. A bit too much Ayn Rand
I wasn't aware that Ayn Rand favored an argument along the lines that "you can kill anyone who gives you economic loss of some form". Do you have a source I can read to catch up on this? Maybe you can PM me a reference so as not to derail this thread?


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