When Is It Murder?

Rev. Ross L. Riggs, D. Min.            Riggs Ministry Minute    www.docriggs.com         15 March 2012

Perhaps it is appropriate that today is March 15th. You may recall that the oracle warned Julius Caesar to “Beware the ides of March” and that it was on this day in 44 B.C. that he was murdered by Brutus and Cassius while in the Roman Senate[i]. Surrounded by co-conspirators, he was stabbed 23 times with daggers. So, today, we should ‘beware the ides of March’ because of the horrendous story well reported this past week in the Weekly Standard.[ii]

Vincenzo Camuccini, Mort de César, 1798

 

The title of the article being reviewed from the Journal of Medical Ethics was “After-birth Abortion: Why should the baby live?” written by Alberto Giuilini and Francesca Minerva. It was an essay on the logical understanding as to when a ‘post-birth abortion’ can be legitimized. Some examples are: any type of deformity or mental defect, non-mentally disruptive physical appearance issues, or when the mother’s circumstances have changed so that it is no longer the mother’s desire to keep the child.

The option of adopting the child to a family willing to take him or her was contemplated logically, too.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       It was reasoned by these two ‘medical ethicists’ that this option was not good for the mother’s mental health. The issue, in this case, was that the loss of the child would never have closure. The birth mother could always be wondering if the child might someday seek her out and then there would be a renewal of relationship. In the eyes of the Journal of Medical Ethics, this was not a viable option so the child could be killed because with death comes closure.

The authors did stress that it was important for the ‘termination of life’ to take place as soon as possible after birth so as to  prevent the child of reaching a mental state where it has a ‘sense’ that it has a life and therefore has some ability to know what it would be like to be deprived of it. They went on to say that the same is true for some animals. Once they have reached a stage of development where they sense that they exist within a relationship with others, then their death is inappropriate. Oh… and as to when a child actually develops this sense of awareness there is currently no way of knowing. That argument seems to reaffirm that the child does have life, it’s just its own sense of that life hasn’t developed so it is okay to end the life. Basically, the child would never know what it is missing.

Under extreme pressure from those who wrote in to voice their horror or disbelief in this stance by supposed medical professionals. The authors posted more of an explanation than an apology. Their response was basically that they were sorry for the outpouring of emotional letters because truly the article was meant for medical ethics professionals who would understand the logic of the concept and not meant for the unwashed masses who could never grasp such high topics.

I suppose they are right. I don’t get it. To me, it’s just murder.


[ii] Ferguson, Andrew Declaring War on Newborns, The Weekly Standard, March 19 2012 pp 12-13

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