I don’t buy this argument, in part because I agree with Furedi that something profound changes at birth: The woman’s bodily autonomy is no longer at stake. But I also think that the value of the unborn human increases throughout its development. Furedi rejects that view, and her rejection doesn’t stop at birth. As she explained in our debate last fall, “There is nothing magical about passing through the birth canal that transforms it from a fetus into a person.” The challenge posed to Furedi and other pro-choice absolutists by “after-birth abortion” is this: How do they answer the argument, advanced by Giubilini and Minerva, that any maternal interest, such as the burden of raising a gravely defective newborn, trumps the value of that freshly delivered nonperson? What value does the newborn have? At what point did it acquire that value? And why should the law step in to protect that value against the judgment of a woman and her doctor?
It’s also worth noting that the arguments for infanticide cited here apply equally to anyone who is under the care of others: the seriously ill, the gravely injured, the feebly elderly. The logic of the authors’ position is quite straightforward: if you are so severely limited in your physical or mental abilities that caring for you imposes burdens upon me that I do not wish to take on, then I am free to declare that you are no longer a person and end your life.