Everything old is new again.
In the 1920s, through the end of World War II, infanticide of disabled babies was promoted at the highest politically progressive levels.
Helen Keller of all people, argued that killing disabled children was merely the “weeding of the human garden,” apparently believing that she would be spared because her significant disabilities were not congenital.
The rank eugenicist and social Darwinist, Margaret Sanger, also deployed the “weeds” metaphor like a cudgel to support infanticide of “human waste.”
Infanticide was justified by the German eugenicist doctors, given free reign by Hitler, as a “healing treatment.”
When I was in my formative years, infanticide was considered pure evil. But with the memories of the Holocaust fading, the intellectual progressives of bioethics are back at their old argument that babies with birth defects can–in some cases, should–be killed
Although technically illegal, infanticide happens regularly in Netherlands without legal consequence, and a bureaucratic checklist was published that determines which babies can be killed. Showing the direction of the current, the Groningen Protocol (as it is known) was published with all due respect and without criticism, in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The bioethicists Peter Singer was given perhaps the most prestigious chair in bioethics not in spite of being the world’s foremost promoter of infanticide, but because of it. His argument is that anything that justifies abortion–which in this country is literally, “anything”–justifies infanticide because a fetus and a baby are both human “non-persons.”
Now in Newsweek, Cornell Law School professor Sherry F. Colb uses the Zika tragedy to promote infanticide. From, “Is Terminating a Late-Term Zika Fetus Euthanasia:”
As a moral matter, some might want to argue that the lives of infants may be so compromised by defects, as would be the case for many of these babies, that killing them painlessly at birth would be a kindness rather than a harm.
At this point in time, though, laws in the U.S. do not recognize euthanasia as a legitimate approach to an infant (or an adult) whose life might not be considered worthwhile, due to impairments or pain or some other index of value….
Colb promotes late term abortion as a means of getting these babies dead, but really supports such terminations as a form of infanticide-euthanasia.
But though this might work legally, the issue of euthanasia nonetheless lurks and beckons to us to answer the question: might some lives be better off ended than permitted to continue, given what is in store for them? The woman who terminates at 32 weeks for Zika-caused birth defects may thus have indirectly made a case for euthanasia, while allowing us to pretend that what she has had was just another abortion.
Unlike her predecessors, Colb doesn’t call these infants “weeds”–although demonstrating her moral mindset, she calls pregnancy a “bodily intrusion”–but she is certainly hearkening back to infanticide as “a healing treatment.”
The old evil was only hibernating–only instead of spouting hate words, it hides behind a supposed compassion and a call for respecting autonomy.
But beneath that veneer, the infanticide message is the same today as it was in the 1920s and 30s. We ignore the approaching darkness at our own peril.