January 25, 2004

"I'm not a monster, I'm just being consistent!"

I just found a link to this article over at Drudge. Headline:
Government adviser: killing children with defects acceptable

A GOVERNMENT adviser on genetics has sparked fury by suggesting it might be acceptable to destroy children with ‘defects’ soon after they are born.

Yeah, you read that right.

John Harris, a member of the Human Genetics Commission, told a meeting at Westminster he did not see any distinction between aborting a fully grown unborn baby at 40 weeks and killing a child after it had been born.

Most people don't; that's why they consider late term abortions to be infanticide. But, I suppose, in the name of consistency, those who support abortion at 40 weeks would naturally draw the logical conclusion that newborns are as unhuman as they were before they began to push their way through the birth canal.
Harris, who is a professor of bioethics at Manchester University,

Yeah, you read that right.
...would not be drawn on which defects or problems might be used as grounds for ending a baby’s life, or how old a child might be while it could still be destroyed.

Because there's no rational way to make those distinctions. A "defect" or "disablility" can be anything from Down's Syndrome to blindness to webbed toes. To say that one type of defect causes the baby to lose (or never to have earned) a right to life and equal protection under the law, while another type of defect does not, is to confuse the very ideas of moral and ethical consistency. If a newborn has no right to life, then no one does.

So, then, why stop with infants? There are plenty of toddlers, adolescents and adults walking around with defects and disabilities. If we're to be consistent then they have no right to life either. Perhaps it would be better to ease the burden that they put on society and kill them.
I guess Hitler wasn't evil afterall; he was just ahead of his time.

Harris was reported to have said that he did not believe that killing a child was always inexcusable. In addition, it was claimed that he did not believe that there was any ‘moral change’ that occurred between when the baby was in the womb and when it had been brought into the world. He did not say how old a child might be while it could still be destroyed

And just when does a "moral change" occur? Perhaps when the kid is old enough to understand that, when asked the question "Do you mind if we kill you?", that answering "No" might not be in his or her best interest.

Or, perhaps, the truth is that there is no biological or philosophical justification to claim that a person becomes a person at any given moment or stage of growth later than the moment of conception or the first instance of cell division. (I'm just trying to find an ethically consistent position here...)

Harris, who also gives advice to doctors as a member of the ethics committee of the British Medical Association (BMA),

Yeah, you read that right.

is understood to have argued that there was no moral distinction between aborting a foetus found by tests to have defects and disposing of a child where the parents discovered the problems at birth. The words drew a furious response from anti-abortion campaigners. The Pro-Life lobby group, who had members present at the meeting, noted what Harris had said and condemned his words.

Why in the world is the reaction of anti-abortionists being focused on? Is it only anti-abortionists who get infuriated at the idea of killing newborn babies? Are pro-choicers unphased by the idea of taking a crying, smiling, breathing, kicking, fidgetting bouncing baby suckling at his mother's teat and killing him?
Julia Millington, the group’s spokeswoman, said: "It is frightening to think that university students are being educated by somebody who endorses the killing of new-born babies, and equally worrying to discover that such a person is the establishment’s ‘preferred’ bioethicist."

However, Michael Wilkes, the chairman of the BMA’s ethics committee, claimed that Harris was simply trying to encourage debate and consistent thinking.
He said: "There are many who might concur that there is no difference between a full-term foetus and a new-born baby, although the majority would see there is a substantial difference. Abortion is legal, but termination after birth is killing."

Oh, that's the difference! The "majority" can't see the world in moral or ethical terms, only in legal terms! The reason Harris' remarks are causing commotion is because most people can't see that if they in any way accept the legality of abortion then they must also support the right of women to smother their babies in a blanket. Oh... *smacks palm into forehead* ...We're such neanderthals sometimes!
In the past, Harris has spoken of the need to allow people to buy and sell human organs as a means of increasing supplies for transplant operations.

Why? Why not just kill someone in a wheelchair when a real person needs a kidney?
He also recently expressed support for the sex selection of babies for social reasons. He said: "If it isn’t wrong to wish for a bonny bouncing baby girl, why would it be wrong to make use of technology to play fairy godmother?"

Y'know, that's what I tried to explain to the Nevada Gaming Commission! I told 'em; "If it isn't wrong for me to wish for a royal flush, how can it be wrong for me to make use of my own deck of cards to create a royal flush?!" They didn't like my "reasoning".

Actually, what are the "social reasons" of which he spoke? If it's to create an even ratio of boys to girls, nature does a pretty good job of that. If it's just to give parents an opportunity to choose the sex of their children, then what's the heck is the "social reason"?
Any parent who would choose the sex of his or her child is sexist. Let's encourage that!

Okay, okay, let's say daddy has five girls and, dag nab it, wants a boy. Has anyone ever heard of ADOPTION?!!!! But, if you're going to adopt, you'd better get to the agency fast. Those kiddies might soon be labelled "disadvantaged" and be destroyed.

Posted by Tuning Spork at January 25, 2004 08:22 PM

If you're not annoyed enough yet, here's an interview with Generally Weasely Clark:

Clark: I don't think you should get the law involved in abortion--
McQuaid: At all?
Clark: Nope.
McQuaid: Late-term abortion? No limits?
Clark: Nope.
McQuaid: Anything up to delivery?
Clark: Nope, nope.
McQuaid: Anything up to the head coming out of the womb?
Clark: I say that it's up to the woman and her doctor, her conscience. . . . You don't put the law in there.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at January 27, 2004 06:53 AM

Obviously Mr. Harris is ethically defective himself, and should be the first volunteer for his little program...

It's never too late to make mommy proud!

Posted by: Marty at January 28, 2004 04:24 PM

This is one of the most sickening things I've ever read. The thought that a doctor would sit there and advocate infanticide with a straight face goes beyond the pale!

That the hell ever happened to the Hippocratic Oath?

Posted by: Linda at January 28, 2004 06:04 PM

Oops. I meant to type, "What", and not "That".
Preview is my friend.

Posted by: Linda at January 28, 2004 06:06 PM
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