Monday, March 21, 2005

Unfit for Life

This story from the Guardian reports that two doctors approved a late term abortion because the child suffered from a cleft palate. Charges were brought and dropped.

Of course, in this country charges would not have even been brought because a woman can abort her child at any time for any reason. Even so, we have a question for the doctors in England. If the child had been born with the cleft palate would they have agreed to kill it if the mother requested it? If not, why not? If having this particular defect was reason enough for them to think the child should be killed before it was born, wouldn't it be equally sufficient to justify killing the child after it was born?

Peter Singer the Princeton bioethicist who has achieved much notoriety for his advocacy of infanticide divides into three groups the newborns for whom decisions about ending life might be made.

The first consists of infants who would die soon after birth even if all existing medical resources were employed to prolong their lives.

In the second group are infants who require intensive care, such as a respirator, to keep them alive, and for whom the expectations regarding their future are "very grim." These are infants with severe brain damage. If they can survive beyond intensive care, they will still have a very poor quality of life.

The third group includes infants with a "hopeless prognosis" and who also are victims of "unbearable suffering." For example, in the third group was "a child with the most serious form of spina bifida," the failure of the spinal cord to form and close properly. Yet infants in group three may no longer be dependent on intensive care.

It is this third group, Singer says, that creates the controversy because their lives cannot be ended simply by withdrawing intensive care.

Whatever one's assessment of Singer's distinctions if we are coming to the point where a cleft palate warrants inclusion in the third group then the culture of death is even further advanced in its march through the western world than we had thought.

Parenthetically, here's an interesting piece on Peter Singer's unwillingness to draw the full implications of his ethics in his own life.

The Hidden War in Iraq

The March 20 installment of Strategy Page has some interesting commentary on the war being fought in the Sunni neighborhoods against al Qaida. The Strategy Page folks discuss the players and what their various motives. Give it a look.

Kerry's Form 180

Mickey Kaus at Slate reports that John Kerry is planning on finally signing the Form 180 that he refused to sign during the campaign and which would have released his full Vietnam service record. Kaus says:

Kerry's military records, when fully opened, better show something at least mildly embarrassing! If they're completely innocuous, why couldn't Kerry have signed Form 180 a year ago and cleared up many of the rumors that helped sink his candidacy (and his party)? ... Kerry's belated action could raise as many questions as it answers!

This really is strange. Why now?