It’s OK to kill babies after they are born if they turn out to have “defects,” says one of the British government’s leading advisers on genetics.
Provoking an uproar, Professor John Harris, a member of the British Medical Association’s ethics committee and author of 15 books on the ethics of genetics, made the statement endorsing de facto infanticide during a recent debate over sex-selection, reports the London Telegraph.
Asked what moral status he accorded an embryo, Harris responded by endorsing infanticide in cases where a child has a genetic disorder that remained undetected during pregnancy and suggested there’s no moral difference between aborting an unborn baby and killing an infant once it’s born, said the report.
”It’s not plausible to think that there is any moral change that occurs during the journey down the birth canal,” he told the Telegraph.
Harris declined to say up until what age he believed infanticide should be permissible and later stood by his remarks, which he claimed had been elicited ”in response to goading” from pro-life campaigners.
”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, according to the paper.
”It is well-known that where a serious abnormality is not picked up – when you get a very seriously handicapped or indeed a very premature newborn which suffers brain damage – that what effectively happens is that steps are taken not to sustain it on life-support.
”There is a very widespread and accepted practice of infanticide in
most countries. We ought to be much more upfront about the ethics
of all of this and ask ourselves the serious question: What do we
really think is different between newborns and late fetuses?
”There is no obvious reason why one should think differently, from
an ethical point of view, about a fetus when it’s outside the womb
rather than when it’s inside the womb.”
According to the Telegraph, Julia Millington, political director of the ProLife Party, called the admission ”absolutely horrifying,” and added: ”Infanticide is murder and is against the law. It is frightening to think
that university students are being educated by somebody who
endorses the killing of newborn babies and equally worrying to
discover that such a person is also a member of the ethics committee of the British Medical Association.”