NRL News

After-birth abortion: “Malevolent apologetics”

by | Dec 28, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Francesca Minerva

Francesca Minerva

This is the last post of the week, so it will be relatively brief. That, however, is not a comment on its importance. We have written about “after-birth abortion” numerous times in 2012 and will again in the future.

“Nursery Crimes: on the Move from Abortion to Infanticide” was written by Burnell F. Eckardt, Jr. and appears in the January/February issue of Touchstone Magazine. (You can read an advance copy online at

As most of you recall, the argument by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, reduced to its essence, is that any justification you could offer for abortion applies equally well post-birth. Why? “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.”

We are talking about infanticide, of course, even though the authors offer a hair-splitting distinction without a difference. The issue is the newborn’s moral status, which is tied to the moral status of the unborn.

Pro-lifers have always claimed, Eckardt writes, that “the moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus.” However we “assumed that the establishment of this claim would lead to the inevitable conclusion that both infants and fetuses should be considered persons in a morally relevant sense.”

What did Giubilini and Minerva do in the article published February 23, 2012, in the online Journal of Medical Ethics? They “have turned this argument on its head: fetuses are not persons, they claim, and so neither are newborns,” Eckardt explains.

Why? Giubilini and Minerva explain, “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.”

Eckardt helpfully explores some of the well-trodden slippery slopes. What about those who are mentally disabled? Or in a coma or a persistent vegetative state? They also lack awareness and, under that reasoning, would not “suffer” a loss if killed.

Worth remembering is that Giubilini and Minerva pretend as if the newborn ought to be really disabled (especially intellectually disabled) for this death sentence to be meted out. But even though the essay is barely 1,500 words, there is room enough to find a reason to kill children with Treacher-Collins syndrome, which causes facial deformities and respiratory ailments but no mental impairment—and to open the door to infanticide on demand.

This wider and wider sweep makes a perverse kind of sense for two reasons. First, Giubilini and Minerva are merely extrapolating run-of-the-mill arguments for abortion to “normalize” (justify) infanticide.

Second, since the child could have been a candidate for abortion for any reason, surely if a child with genetic anomalies has “slipped through the genetic submarine net” (in Dr. Gerard Nadal’s words), this opens the way to “redefine infanticide to any parent killing their newborn for any reason at all.”

Dr. Nadal calls this “A fascinating and profoundly disturbing read into the process of malevolent apologetics.” Unfortunately, they pulled the essay off line as the controversy heated up.

Too bad. For all the bad press the essay rightfully received, the section where Giubilini and Minerva explain why killing a newborn baby is superior to giving her up for adoption went almost unnoticed.

It may be the most chilling few sentences you will ever read.

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Categories: Infanticide