In February of 2012, a pair of left-wing “philosophers” wrote a paper that claimed that babies aren’t human until they can become cognizant of themselves, aware that if they were to be “aborted” or killed they’d be losing something valuable, their lives. This, they claimed, justified abortion as well as post birth infanticide. Naturally they had elaborate justifications for their stance and what they wrote is chilling indeed, for it essentially states that only people that think like them are really worth the status of “human,” worth having their lives considered sacrosanct.
The pair, Alberto Giubilini of Milan, Italy, and Francesca Minerva of Australia, held as a central thesis that since abortion is so commonly accepted there had to be a more expansive use for it. That use, the pair decided, should be to cover killing babies born with developmental problems. After all, they said, neither fetuses or newborns “have the same moral status as actual persons,” so this certainly must mean that newborns with catastrophic birth defects could be killed without any moral reservations.
Here is how they justified the non-human status of both a fetus and a born baby.
The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.
Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life’. We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her. This means that many non-human animals and mentally retarded human individuals are persons, but that all the individuals who are not in the condition of attributing any value to their own existence are not persons. Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life. 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.
This is chilling for its cold approach to life, but worse for its vagueness.
Let’s examine the main point of what makes someone a worthy human in these liberal’s minds. They feel that unless someone can understand the “basic value” of their own life, then they don’t count for personhood.
This is so entirely ague that anyone can qualify for elimination in a large number of situations.
The pair mentions that mentally retarded people can qualify for elimination, that they aren’t cognizant of the value of their own lives. But are you aware of yourself when you are in a coma from an accident? Are you any longer aware of yourself if you have Alzheimer’s? How about if you have devolved to infantile status at the end of your life? Should your children have the right to just kill you instead of keeping you alive in that case?
How far does this “thought” criteria go? Can these “philosophers” decide that if you are happy drinking beer, working as a car mechanic, and watching reality TV that this isn’t enough cognition to qualify to be self-aware? Could they decide that unless you think exactly like them, why, you aren’t properly a human? Of course they could because they would be in charge of deciding what “thought” qualifies as enough to make you a real person.
Imagine what this means? It means that the left is leaving behind its reliance on “science” and alighting on “thought” to serve as a basis to assess who is worth what. No longer is mere biology something worth considering. That long-held justification for abortion using the unviable cells argument is now out. Instead we will henceforth set out to determine if people are thinking properly to ascertain if they are worth keeping alive.
Worse, imagine how much more dangerous these ideas will become when governments decide to use them as a basis for policy! We will have governments determining who is “worth” being called a human based on how the person being judged thinks.
Extremely chilling, indeed.