There is a convention in modern debating known as “Godwin’s Law.” Simply put, it states that as an argument progresses, it is increasingly likely that one of its participants will compare their opponents’ ideas to those of the Nazis, and in so doing, sacrifice much of their credibility.
Unfortunately for some, Godwin’s Law isn’t really protection from accurate analogies. And “some” in this case describes The Nuffield Council on Bioethics, which recently decided that infants born before 23 weeks, who are in dire need of life-support, ought not to be revived unless their parents – and doctor – feel it appropriate to save them.
The details of this decision have already been reported, but the skinny is nothing new: Triage has less to do with the proposed guidelines than “compassion” of a familiar sort. The tenuous struggle to survive a premature birth seems too cruel an ordeal for many doctors to condone. And the decision is, ultimately, the doctor’s. If the parents beg and plead, but the man in the white coat feels differently, the council believes the bio-engineer, not the family, is best suited to mete out life or death.
But let us not be too hard on the English. They aren’t trailblazers in this area of endeavor. Perhaps the reader can recall the Terri Schiavo affair, which also promoted a vision of Death With Dignity. She was “allowed” to die without a single piece of evidence ever confirmed indicating such a course of action was consistent with her wishes. The burning question remains: If we can end a person’s life on hearsay, why is the standard for willing their property so much more stringent?
But discarding the infirm and aged is only half of the job. Indeed, the Nuffield Council’s decision is somewhat tame when one considers that our state condones the killing of children beyond their twenty-third week while still in the womb. America has been the capital of partial-birth abortion for decades, and there is great resistance by some to outlaw this procedure because of the mother’s health. Why the birthing of a whole dead baby is so much safer than the exact same procedure with the baby alive must be a mystifying metaphysical secret kept only by the priestesses of nowadays because they have never made a satisfying case to anyone else.
Born-alive “abortions” shouldn’t be left out, either. This interesting procedure is proof-positive of what we all know: That most abortions have nothing to do with a woman’s life, and everything to do with getting rid of the baby.
So, when it comes to killing babies, who braved years of ridicule to empower the Nuffield gang to make this proclamation? None other than Peter Singer, who has long sought to make mainstream the idea of terminating children before they are of a certain stage of intelligence. Singer is also of note because he is a prominent proponent of utilitarianism. It is interesting that our love for happiness would lead us to deny a lifetime of experiences to others simply because we wouldn’t want to walk in their shoes. This monstrous, destructive arrogance is now considered by many to be “empathy” and “compassion.” I should mention that the Nuffield Council also seriously considered the idea that killing “unfit” babies, such as those with mental retardation, would be a mercy both to the child and the family. Yet it is strange that these big hearts never aim their terminal good intentions at members of these same beneficiaries in their adult stages of life. Apparently, it is good to kill a baby with Down Syndrome, but not a teenager with of the same condition. How strange! Is it perhaps because infants and comatose patients don’t speak for themselves that they make such attractive recipients of this lethal kindness?
Very well, then, Nazis, I remember. Unfortunately, I’ve run out of space, so I can only give you a clue. If you’re at all curious, google “Aktion T 4.” I promise you, the similarities are far too obvious to benefit from my commentary. This way, I’ve still got one up on Godwin.
Paul Jones is a senior political science major.