For several decades liberal academicians have been pushing for bioethics, instead of medical ethics. And even more recently, a newer term, tailor-made for my neuroscience/neurosurgical specialty, has come into vogue -- neuroethics that also takes the needs of society ahead of the individual.
Bioethics is not concerned with individual autonomy, moral principles or the dignity of human life. Instead, its tenets are based on situational ethics, moral relativism, utilitarianism and what is in the best interest of society, not the individual citizen. Moral philosopher Wesley Smith has called the bioethics movement “a culture of death” because it supports euthanasia of the elderly and infirm, abortion on demand, physician-assisted suicide, the withholding of food and water for terminally or chronically ill patients, etc. Pope Benedict XVI decried the movement and reaffirmed the beneficence of natural law and the sanctity of human life.
As far as the reach of the bioethics movement, I thought I had heard it all with the call for “voluntary” euthanasia by age 75 by one of the architects of Obamacare; presumably he also wants to save money. The most recent call is for the horrendous killing of healthy newborn but inconvenient babies with no congenital anomalies or defects. And the medical article has been so popular with bioethicists that it has been published and republished with ghastly elan by various biomedical journals, including the Journal of Medical Ethics and the prestigious British Medical Journal.
In this article, “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” -- the bioethicists write, “having a child can itself be an unbearable burden for the psychological health of the woman or for her already existing children, regardless of the condition of the fetus.”
The moral justification is that newborns do not have the “moral standing” of a person and the potentiality for the development into a person is “morally irrelevant.” Moreover, adoption, they claim, is “not always in the best interest of the parties involved.” Interestingly enough, although the article has made the circuit in the bioethical circles, the mainstream media has hushed up the shocking proposals. And with good reason:
In their conclusion, the authors contend that if abortion of normal healthy fetuses is permissible, they see no reason why it cannot extended to newborns, who like fetuses, are also potential but not actual moral persons. And what about older children who are yet not persons and have become a burden for single mothers?
Many people, including misguided libertarians, may think this is personal autonomy. Not so. And what if governments seize the initiative and with their monopoly of force and for fiscal considerations decide that the burden of some unwanted babies are not worth the expense? Are we already sliding down the slippery slope and too late to stop the utilitarian tenets of the bioethics movement, especially when the prerogative has been arrogated to itself by the State?
Miguel A. Faria Jr., M.D. is an Associate editor-in-chief of Surgical Neurology International and the author of “Cuba in Revolution -- Escape from a Lost Paradise.”