An Ethical Quandary

The article by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva entitled “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” recently published in the The Journal of Medical Ethics presents Mankind with an immediate and profound ethical quandary.

It is not the quandary of whether or not there is an ethical imperative for Giubilini and Minerva to be killed for advocating infanticide in a venue that could, as Ezekiel Emanuel’s opus proves, affect medical science and policies. The ethical imperative to kill these would-be baby-killers is so obvious that it almost goes without saying.

Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call “after-birth abortion” (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

Any society that will not protect its children and kill threats to those children is pointless, and exercise in futility, and eventually doomed to failure and dissolution. Hence, there is no quandary about whether or not Giubilini and Minerva need, from an ethical standpoint, to be hunted down and exterminated. It’s self-evident.

Would-Be Baby-Killers At Large

Baby Killer Alberto GiubiliniAlberto Giubilini

Monash University Centre for Human Bioethics
Room W925, West Wing, Level 9
Menzies Building (Building 11 & tallest on campus)
Wellington Rd, Clayton Victoria, AU


Francesca Minerva

The University of Melbourne, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies
Room 1.23, East wing, Old Quad,
Parkville, Victoria VIC 3010 AU
Tel: +61 3 8344 9951


Nor would it be overly fruitful to dwell long upon the conflict between ethical imperatives and the strictures of mortal law. That’s a conflict that people resolve on a daily basis and is a normal part of living in a society where, perforce, law and justice cannot be the same thing and often widely diverge out of perceived necessity.

The True Man will make his decision as to either follow an ethical imperative or the law based upon his discernment of the overall risks and benefits to his people. The Low Man will decide what to do based upon the costs vs. benefits to himself. In either case though, these are decisions made daily and both True Men and Low Men may reach the same conclusions as to how to act on any given imperative.

No, the ethical quandary is whether or not there is an ethical imperative to exact punitive and deterring measures upon Julian Savulescu, Editor, Journal of Medical Ethics who provided them with a dangerously high profile venue, and Professor Sergio Bartolommei, University of Pisa, who provided Giubilini and Minerva aid and comfort in the actual writing of their treatise on infanticide.

The Would-Be Baby-Killers’ Enablers

Dr. Julian Savulescu - Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics, Director of The Oxford Centre for Neuroethics, Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Director of The Institute for Science and Ethics, The Oxford Martin School.

Professor Sergio Bartolommei - Ricercatore Univ. presso il Dipartimento di Filosofia

Julian Savulescu (Left) & Sergio Bartolommei (Right)

Is there an ethical imperative to kill Savulescu and Bartolommei for the heinous acts of enabling the infanticidal vermin, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva to publish their advocacy of “Post-Birth Abortions” where it could potentially do the most harm? Will some lesser act or acts of retribution and defensive measure suffice? Does no action need to be taken against them? That’s the real ethical quandary in this case.

My first instincts are that there is certainly an ethical imperative to take harsh action against Giubilini’s and Minerva’s enablers and that their deaths might be required for the sake of society’s overall health. Savulescu willfully chose to publish the would-be baby-killer’s paper and Bartolommei had the opportunity to quell their efforts at the start but chose to abet them instead.

Yet both of these men have professional duties that might preclude their refusal to enable Giubilini’s and Minerva’s evil. They also may, as True Men must, have weighed the possible harm that what amounts to censorship might cause vs. what harm such a paper might cause.

Not knowing Savulescu’s and Bartolommei’s motivations for providing aid and comfort to Giubilini and Minerva, I can’t say for certain that there’s an ethical imperative to take any action at all against these two men. Yet, likewise, I cannot think ill of or speak out against anyone who, after consideration, arrived at the opposite decision and chose to kill them.

It’s an ethical quandary. All one can do is apply reason to it and follow one’s conscience wherever it leads them.


UPDATE: The Journal of Medical Ethics has deleted the online pre-publication of the would-be baby-killers’ article! It looks like the outrage of right-thinking people scored a small ethical victory.

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