Human rights for babies, not chimps

From time to time, watching ABC’s Q&A creates within me an overwhelming desire to throw something at my TV. If the closest thing to hand is a cushion that’s fine, but when it’s my cup of tea, it has unfortunate consequences. As do some of the dangerous things said on Q&A, or, as in the case of last night’s program, the dangerous people presented there as having a right to speak into our lives. Australian moral philosopher Peter Singer was a guest on last night’s program. A philosopher is, by definition, a person who seeks wisdom or enlightenment.

Last night,  (Monday 4th May 2015) he was pleased to let us know of the current case in the USA seeking to have a pair of chimpanzees be recognised as people by the courts. In Mr Singer’s mind, this could help “narrow the gulf” between humans and animals. In case you were wondering, he added that the chimpanzees would not be required to be witnesses in the court for the hearing.

Unfortunately, this man is presented to the Australian public as an ethicist, and one of our serious thinkers who we should listen to and learn from.

In the wake of the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Peter Singer was asked last night about his thoughts on the death penalty. He said he opposed the death penalty. I do too. But Mr Singer also believes, and promotes, the concept of selective infanticide.

If you are like me, you wonder to yourself, how does one oppose the death penalty and yet approve the right of a person in authority to decide whether a child should live or die? Well, Mr Singer has decided that a newborn baby should not be considered a person until 30 days after birth. In his words – “Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons”; therefore, “the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee”.

And because of this, he promotes the belief that any attending physician should have the right to kill disabled babies on the spot. Singer also suggests a postbirth assessment period of a week or perhaps a month (he isn’t sure which), during which parents, in consultation with their physician, may legally kill their disabled offspring if doing so would increase the total happiness of all interested parties. In short, he believes that we should allow infanticide if it will make room for a healthy, happier child.

Sounds like the death penalty to me. But the crime is not one against society. It is the crime of being born different than what was ordered, or desired.

I oppose the death penalty. For all.

Choose life, that it may be well with you—you and your children. Deuteronomy 30:19

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