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Re: After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? An Answer

Catholica USA: New Media at the Service of the Word

The proposal of the so-called post-birth abortion, in the article by [ Giubilini and Minerva ], is astonishing but not surprising. As the journal editor pointed out, this issue has been largely discussed in the past, after it was formally advocated for the first time by Prof. Michael Tooley in 1972.

 

The option of killing the human fetus has been part of medical practice in most western countries over the past decades. As we agree with the authors that no substantial difference is present in the individual before and after birth, we recognize that killing babies 'after birth' only increases the total number of individuals being eliminated, but not the matter at stake. The authors are well aware of this, and conclude that since abortion is commonly permitted, even infanticide should be.

 

Our question for the authors is, who would be entitled to decree the death of an infant or any individual who 'might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society' (line 1, page 2) or is anybody at all entitled to make such a decision?

 

No one of us decided to be born, when to be born and where to be born, it happened in a specific time in history, in a precise geographical place, and in a family we did not choose. We are indeed confronted with an unavoidable question, who decided of our existence and who called us to existence? The fact of our own birth and our own life brings about, whether we like it or not, that we are not 'in charge' of our life and even less of the life of others. Life is given to us.

 

A famous Italian writer, Cesare Pavese, notes in his diary, after he had obtained the most highly prized Italian literary award, "You also have the gift of fertility. You are the master of yourself, of your fate ... yet all that will come to an end. This profound joy of yours, this glow of super-abundance, is made of things you did not take into account. It was given to you. By whom? Whom should you thank? Whom will you curse when it all disappears?" (*)

 

The 'I', the human being, is that level of nature in which nature becomes aware of 'being made' and of 'not being made by itself', therefore this existential observation implies the presence of a mysterious relationship, what people historically call 'god'.

 

Thus, we hold that each individual has an untouchable value exactly in virtue of this mysterious relationship and no one, whether the person itself, the family and nevertheless the physician is entitled to end their life.

 

Moreover, we argue that, since medicine was started in human history in order to heal illnesses, alleviate suffering and comfort patients, the answer to a present or future disability or to parents' anxiety should not be death but solidarity.

 

We propose that any patient, whether aware or unaware, capable or incapable, young or old, potentially disable or chronically ill, even when is incurable, holds an unconditional value and therefore should be object of profound respect and care.

 

 (*) Cesare Pavese, The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935-1950, translated by A.E. Murch (New York: Walker & Company, 1961:345).

 

By Elvira Parravicini, Neonatologist Federica Fromm, Giuseppe Paterlini, Patrizia Vergani, Columbia University, New York, NY

 

This answer was obtained from a [ blog at the British Medical Journal ]  based on the article [ After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva ]

 

[ READ ALSO: Concern for Our Vulnerable Prenatal and Neonatal Children: A Brief Reply to Giubilini and Minerva ]

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