Julian Savulescu, the editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics and Director of the Center for Practical Ethics at Oxford University, has attempted to justify his publication of Giubilin and Minerva’s article promoting the killing of newborn babies by revealing the little known fact that it is already legal in Holland:
‘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.’
This is the nub of what Giubilin and Minerva actually seek to justify in their article : ‘After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?’
“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.”
“If criteria such as the costs (social, psychological, economic) for the potential parents are good enough reasons for having an abortion even when the fetus is healthy, if the moral status of the newborn is the same as that of the infant and if neither has any moral value by virtue of being a potential person, then the same reasons which justify abortion should also justify the killing of the potential person when it is at the stage of a newborn.”
Julian Savulescu skirts over the fact that Giubilin and Minerva are seeking to extend the immoral Dutch practice of killing newborns with disabilities to kill any newborn baby according to the parent’s judgement of the social, psychological and economic well being of the family. In Holland at present the Groningen Protocol allows a physician to deliver a lethal injection to a newborn who suffers from a disability, at the request of the child’s parents.
Protect the Pope comment: Julian Savulescu claims the Journal of Medical Ethics ‘does not specifically support substantive moral views, ideologies, theories, dogmas or moral outlooks, over others. It supports sound rational argument.’
However, he goes on to admit that he does not find the arguments in Giubilin and Minerva’s article ‘disturbing’. So just to be clear here, Julian Savulescu publicly admits he’s not disturbed by the argument that parents should be allowed to kill their newborn babies for social, psychological, or economic reasons because their babies are non-persons. In fact, he thinks it represents sound rational argument.
It would be interesting to discover Julian Savulescu’s understanding of the role of conscience in moral decision making. Any person who can admit he’s not disturbed by the idea of killing a new born baby is revealing something about the state of his conscience. This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states about erroneous judgement:
1790 . A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.
1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man “takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin.”59 In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.
1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one’s passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.
1793 If – on the contrary – the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.
One final point, Julian Savluescu is the director of the Center for Practical Ethics at Oxford University. If you want to study ethics at graduate and post-graduate level it would be best to avoid Oxford because they appear to be promoting ethics divorced from conscience. As history shows, that never ends well.