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January 26, 2004

Infanticide Versus Abortion

From Chris Brand--

EUGENIC INFANTICIDE SUPPORTED   One of Britain’s top bioethicists endorsed infanticide in the case of infants born with previously unsuspected genetic problems or brain damage (Sunday Telegraph, 25 i; Scotland on Sunday, 25 i; Sunday Times, 25 i; Times, 25 i). In a debate organized by the House of Commons, handsome young Professor John Harris, a member of the British Medical Association’s Ethics Committee, said there was no detectable ethical difference between abortion and infanticide undertaken for serious conditions, and added that there should be more openness about the fact that such infanticide was “a very widespread and accepted pratce in most countries.” ''People who think there is a difference between infanticide and late abortion have to ask the question: What has happened to the fetus in the time it takes to pass down the birth canal and into the world which changes its moral status? I don't think anything has happened in that time," he said. The Manchester Uni philosopher’s remarks infuriated pretty young ‘pro-life’ campaigner, the Reverend Joanna Jepson, curate of St Michael’s Church in Chester, best known for her determination to outlaw abortions for cleft palate (with which she herself had been born). Julia Millington, the political director of the ProLife Party, said: “It is frightening to hear anyone endorsing infanticide, but it is shocking when that person is responsible for teaching others.” Professor Harris, Oxford-educated and a founder of the International Association of Bioethics, had fifteen books to his credit on the ethics of genetics. The professor had in the past supported people being allowed to sell their organs for transplant operations and being allowed to select the sex of their babies. A spokeswoman for the British Medical Association tried to dissociate from Professor Harris, saying: "These views of Prof. Harris are personal views and do not reflect the views of the Ethics Committee or the BMA, which is utterly opposed to the idea of infanticide." But socialist groups were expected to resist the enforced pregnancies on which ‘pro-lifers’ were determined, and thus to support the relaxed attitude about infanticide (at least by mothers) that had developed in 20th-century Britain.

"People who think there is a difference between infanticide and late abortion have to ask the question: What has happened to the fetus in the time it takes to pass down the birth canal and into the world which changes its moral status? I don't think anything has happened in that time."

True, that.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 07:42 AM