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Sometimes I have to pinch myself and ask what country I’m living in. Is this really the end of the 20th century? With all the wisdom of the ages to draw upon, how have we become so lost?

The last time I got this feeling was after reading a ghoulish, post-Halloween New York Times Magazine article by Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I’m still recovering from the shock. And I’m amazed that there hasn’t been, in the weeks following the Nov. 2 publication of this piece in the nation’s newspaper of record, more outspoken reaction.

Pinker’s contention is that infanticide is not necessarily wrong. That’s right. You heard me correctly. An MIT scholar, writing in the New York Times, is advocating that we open our minds to the legalization of child sacrifice here in America.

“To a biologist, birth is as arbitrary a milestone as any other,” he writes.

Babies aren’t really people, he says, because they don’t have “an ability to reflect upon (themselves) as a continuous locus of consciousness, to form and savor plans for the future, to dread death and to express the choice not to die. And there’s the rub: Our immature neonates don’t possess these traits any more than mice do.”

Thus, Pinker argues that those who kill a newborn should not be punished as severely as those who kill older children. I’m not joking.

“Several moral philosophers have concluded that neonates (infants) are not persons, and thus neo-naticide (killing an infant) should not be classified as murder,” he explains.

So what are the ramifications such a position — such a realization? Pinker thinks we should move as a society toward a moral code in which, “A new mother will first coolly assess the infant and her situation,” and then decide whether the baby lives or dies.

Now, is Pinker a lone crackpot the New York Times found under some rock simply to provoke controversy? Not at all. He’s got allies. He is at the cutting-edge of a movement. His position is an illustration of the slippery slope upon which the entire pro-abortion philosophy rests ever so precariously.

Michael Tooley, a philosophy professor at the University of Colorado, also argues in favor of infanticide. He thinks there should be “some period of time, such as a week after birth, as the interval during which infanticide will be permitted.” Others in this school of thought say parents should be able to kill their children “up to the time the (baby) learns to use certain expressions.”

Tooley would particularly target those children “suffering from severe physical, emotional, or intellectual handicaps.” Sacrificing such babies on the altar of expediency would mean “the happiness of society could be significantly and justifiably increased.”

Remember how happy we were all going to be when we eliminated unwanted children through abortion? A panacea was on the horizon, we were told. Utopia was around the corner. Poverty would be eliminated.

Is it any wonder we have kids ditching babies in high school restrooms when moral midgets like Tooley and Pinker are laying an intellectual and philosophical groundwork for them as pioneers?

But what’s this all about, anyway? Why is the New York Times providing a platform for such a bizarre point of view? And why now? I’ll tell you why.

A debate about abortion has been raging in this country for more than 25 years. Until very recently, the pro-abortion side argued that we really didn’t know if it was a life inside that womb. It was an intellectually and scientifically bankrupt claim when it was first made, but recently — thanks to ultrasound and other neo-natal technology, it has become a total sham.

So the ground shifted. The goal remained the same — the extinction of unwanted human life. But a new argument was needed — particularly with tough debates ahead such as late-term “partial-birth abortions.”

I don’t believe this is a debate Pinker, Tooley, et al, expect to win in the next six months. Instead, they are laying the foundation for a new pro-death social movement of the future. They are, like their pro-abortion predecessors, chipping away at our nation’s moral standards. After enough doubts have been raised in people’s minds, a court case will follow. And just like that, children’s inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness will be null and void.

Pay attention. The debate is being waged now. The seeds of a movement are being planted. Once again, the value of life is about to be reduced. Am I the only one fearful for the fate of our nation and world if we continue down this road?

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