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Justifying Infanticide

Discussion in 'House of Debates' started by Agnapostate, Sep 19, 2008.

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Is Euthanizing Severely Disabled Infants Ever Acceptable?

  1. Yes, in some instances.

    44.4%
  2. No, never.

    55.6%
  1. Agnapostate

    Agnapostate New Member

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    Though it's a radical opinion, I believe that killing severely disabled infants is morally acceptable. I do not believe that it is morally wrong to kill a being that is in severe pain, or a being that lacks and will always lack self-consciousness. (The capacity to see itself as a distinct entity over time.)

    Essentially, I believe that euthanizing a severely disabled infant would be akin to euthanizing a severely disabled adult who had no self-awareness or capacity of viewing themselves as distinct beings over time, (like Terri Schiavo.)

    No argument I have encountered serves as a legitimate opposition to this sort of infanticide. Each of them is lacking, and most operate under false pretenses.

    As to the claim that human babies are special beings worthy of special treatment because of the sanctity of human life, I reject this viewpoint. I don’t believe that membership in the human species entitles a being to greater rights than other beings at the same level of self-consciousness and rationality. This typically stems from a Judeo-Christian perspective of life, which I also reject. I don’t believe in the existence of God, so Judeo-Christian tenets are irrelevant to me. Furthermore, these tenets are recklessly implausible, having been written by men living before the Dark Ages. Neither reason nor logic is present in the vast majority of these tenets.

    As to the claim that this would lead us down a “slippery slope,” I should point out that we’re not on even ground as it is. Abortion, contraception, and to some degree, euthanasia is already legal in much of Western society. This is less a question of heading down a slippery slope than moving in the right direction so that we don’t slip into places we don’t want to go.

    As to the objection by disabled persons that they would have been euthanized were such a proposition to become public policy, the very fact that they possess the self-consciousness and rationality necessary to understand the policy and oppose it proves that they would not be among those threatened by such a policy. Such a policy, if implemented, would apply to severely disabled infants incapable of viewing themselves as distinct entities over time. (Again, much like Terri Schiavo was.)
    This would not apply to mildly disabled infants, such as those with Down Syndrome or hemophilia, because even if these infants were unwanted by their parents, they could be adopted by childless persons who are desperate for children of their own. Thus, it would typically be morally impermissible to kill such infants.

    Does such a policy deny that the lives of disabled persons are “less” than those of normal persons? Yes, to some extent it does. But what would our friend who died last week tell us? These people aren’t “differently able,” they’re crippled! This is not to say that the lives of handicapped persons are valueless, but very often their lives are generally more miserable than those of normal person.

    Peter Singer pointed out an excellent example of this in Practical Ethics. It concerns the drug thalidomide. When this drug was taken by pregnant women, it resulted in their children being born without limbs. When this was discovered, the drug was taken off the market, and the drug company was forced to recompense the victimized parties. But if we regarded the lives of disabled people as being just as good as those of normal people, there would have been no reason to mandate compensation, and this would not have been considered a tragedy.

    So I understand that the lives of disabled or handicapped persons can be fulfilling and happy, but it is improbable and unlikely that, in general, they would be as fulfilling and happy as those of normal persons.
    But again, in reference to disabled people who would object that this policy could harm them, recall that the very fact that they possess the self-consciousness and rationality necessary to understand the policy and oppose it proves that they would not be among those threatened by such a policy.

    Now, as to the general issue of killing normal infants, this is obviously not permissible. But at the same time, killing an infant cannot be considered morally equivalent to killing a self-conscious human. An infant is not a person because it lacks the self-consciousness and rationality. However, an infant does possess the capacity to feel pain, so it would be a greater wrong to kill an infant in a cruel and inhumane manner than it would be to kill it painlessly.

    I’m not suggesting that killing normal, healthy infants is permissible of course, as I’ve already said. I simply don’t think that killing them should be considered as morally wrong as killing self-conscious, rational persons, human or not.

    There are a number of arguments against this also, and I find these to be just as lacking as the arguments against euthanizing severely disabled infants.

    As to the argument that this is unacceptable because infants are humans, I already addressed that above. Again, I don’t believe that membership in the human species entitles a being to greater rights than another being at the same level of self-consciousness and rationality.

    As to the specific argument against this because of the claim that healthy infants have the potential to become persons in the future, and it is therefore just as immoral to kill them as it would be a being that is a person at present, this view is flawed. For those who support abortion rights, but oppose this, I’d like to know what the critical distinction is. An embryo or a fetus also has the potential to become a person in the future, and yet you believe that killing them is morally permissible. For those who oppose abortion rights, I would point out that contraception or abstinence also inhibits the “potential” to create a person. Perhaps you think that the critical distinction is that an abortion is an “action” to prevent the existence of a person, while abstinence or contraception is an “inaction,” because a being is never created. But whether through an action or an inaction, the end result is that a person does not exist and never exists or existed.

    Thus, we should agree that euthanizing a severely disabled infant is both permissible and commendable. And killing a healthy infant is a lesser evil than killing a self-conscious rational person.

    Now, to the inevitable Nazi comparisons...

    The critical element of Nazi sterilizations and death programs was that they were compulsory and forced. In this regard, they have more in common with laws against voluntary euthanasia than with voluntary euthanasia itself. Both restrictions force a person into a certain path regarding life and death that they do not voluntarily make.
    The Nazi “euthanasia” program did not intend to provide humane benefits to those with miserable lives. It was designed to ensure the purity of the Aryan Volk, and weed out those considered unworthy. The Nazis fully recognized the immorality of their actions. They attempted to hide their genocidal ambitions for as long as possible, lying to the relatives of the executed about their loved ones’ fates, and even destroying the gas chambers at Auschwitz upon the approach of the Red Army. There is no legitimate moral comparison to be made with humane euthanasia programs.

    Once again, non-voluntary euthanasia, unlike voluntary euthanasia, is not actually involuntary, in that it goes against the wishes of the being(s) involved. Rather, they simply do not have wishes, because they do not possess self-consciousness, and lack the capacity to view themselves as distinct entities over time. As I have previously mentioned, I view the killing of a rational self conscious being as a greater evil than the killing of an unconscious or merely “conscious” being that is not self-conscious. Again, I define self-consciousness as the capacity to view oneself as a distinct entity over time. If a being does not possess the capacity to view itself as a distinct entity over time, and will never possess that capacity, then no, I wouldn’t say it was wrong to kill such a being, although I would not require it. If a being lacked actual self-consciousness, but was aware enough to feel pain and discomfort, then I would advise that such a being be euthanized, as its only existence can ever be one of pain and discomfort.

    So I ask you, should an infant born with spina bifida be forced to endure the pain of existence? If he or she is unable to attain self-consciousness and will never be capable of doing so, should great measures be taken to extend his or her life? The reason giving severely disabled infants lethal injections is morally justifiable is because such infants are already permitted to die. Lethal injections are a more humane and kinder way to ensure the end of pain.

    Do you agree or disagree? State your reasons.
     
  2. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    It should not be legal.

    To use this logic, anyone who is in pain, or crippled at some point in their lives should die.

    You point out examples of babies being born with a disease, and therefore should not have to "endure the pain of existence." I think that everyone has a different pain tolerance, and for us to decide that someone would not chose to live (without consulting them) is basically murder in my view.

    Also, you speak to being "rationally" developed and seem to allude to that as the moment when someone becomes part of the 'species"... I think this is flawed, while a baby cannot talk or formulate complex actions, a baby does know when it is in danger and being threatened, therefore it must have some rational capability.

    Now you can point out coma cases, but that hardly speaks to infanticide, and it is a tough choice, and I believe should be left up to the families.

    Further, in the case of infants, and even to an extent those in a coma, they may be born with a terrible disease, but we may cure the disease 10 years from now. So we basically robbed them of their entire life, simply because they were born with some problem.

    Also, you ignore the "slippery slope" prospect, but I think it does indeed play a role here. If we start 'selecting" who will live based on how they are at birth, it opens the door for selecting traits before birth, and basically manufacturing babies, which I think a mistake.
     
  3. Not Amused

    Not Amused New Member

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    You do understand that approximately 80% of children born with Spina Bifida have normal intelligence and approximately 90% live to be adults who enjoy a productive and relatively active life don't you?

    This post is not well thought out at all in my opinion.
     
  4. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    ...........I think the point of discussion is slightly wider than just spina bifida - which I would hazard was being used as an example ;)
     
  5. dahermit

    dahermit New Member

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    It should be illegal! There is no justification for killing a malformed child...as long as there is someone who volunteers to shoulder the burden of what it does to the family financially, emotionally, and physically. I have visited Denver children's hospital, where there are children in their 60's and those who were not intelligent enough to learn to sit up. I would never want to live like that. I would prefer to be euthanized. Would any of you really prefer to live like that for years?
     
  6. Agnapostate

    Agnapostate New Member

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    It does speak to the type of infanticide that I am referring to. It is obviously not morally acceptable to kill healthy babies, but if an infant suffers from a severe disability that would cause it not to ever become aware of its own existence, it is equivalent to the coma situation.

    The slippery slope objection is a common one, and in response, I would point out that we're not standing on even ground as it is.

    What is your objection to parents choosing genetic traits of their children before birth? The children already don't choose their genetic traits as it is.
     
  7. Pandora

    Pandora Well-Known Member

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    This is some pretty sick stuff.
     
  8. Pandora

    Pandora Well-Known Member

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    By whose definition do we use when calling another person “severely disabled” or “in pain” What you call severely disabled or in pain is different than mine and both of ours are different than someone else. So by who’s definition do we go by if this sick thing were to ever come to reality?

    Many people think that Sarah Palin should have aborted AKA killed her newest son because he has downs syndrome. I know a number of children with downs and they are very sweet kids. They won’t ever grow up to be doctors and attorneys but they are human beings that bring their own value to our society.

    What about people who have diseases that are incurable and will most certainly die eventually with painful deaths and huge expense to tax payers for medical bills? Should we cut to the chase and off them too? And if so at what point? When we first diagnose it or when they start needing extensive medical care or when they start to feel the pain or when it looks to us the pain is unbearable?

    And what about old people, they get old they are hard to take care of they cost a lot, they are bound to be in pain and have various diseases that are eating away at their body.

    If not these groups too, then why not? If we are going to start picking at groups that are unworthy of life, there are people who would try to justify these groups too.
     
  9. Agnapostate

    Agnapostate New Member

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    Your responses are getting irritating. None of us (presumably) believe that infanticide would be morally justifiable in the case of an infant with Down's syndrome because people with Down's syndrome are self-aware and can derive enjoyment from their lives.

    It is not morally acceptable to kill a person who wishes to live.
     
  10. Pandora

    Pandora Well-Known Member

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    Forgive me for not being warped and twisted enough to understand the insane question.
     
  11. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    I think you would be hard pressed to prove that even people who have some terrible disease, or an infant who is born deformed, do not wish to live.
     
  12. Federal Farmer

    Federal Farmer New Member

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    GREAT! Then as soon as you are able to gain permission from the infant to kill it, then feel free, but until then don't.
     
  13. Dawkinsrocks

    Dawkinsrocks Well-Known Member

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    You don't seem to have a problem if the infant is an Iraqi or Afghani or Yugoslavian or Vietnamese.

    I don't hear you protesting against Union Carbide taking a strategic decision to build their chemical factory in Bhopal where they could avoid costly safety meaures resulting in a massive chemical explosion killing thousands and disfiguring many others and poisioning the water for years to come. Just for US corporate greed.

    But if the life concerned is a US foetus then you are screaming like a banshee.

    Or rather, a lunatic.
     
  14. Agnapostate

    Agnapostate New Member

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    The fetus can never form such a position if it is never able to attain self-awareness.
     
  15. Dawkinsrocks

    Dawkinsrocks Well-Known Member

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    Nor is the foetus an infant.

    I do wish the pro-life hypocrits would stop using emotive language.

    It really isn't a replacement for reason.
     

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