In this article I reply to Alberto Giubilini and Francesco Minerva's recent infanticide proposal which, I argue, is predicated on their personism and actualism. According to these related ideas, human beings achieve their moral status in virtue of the degree to which they are capable of laying value upon their lives or exhibiting certain qualities or being desirable to third-party family members. This article challenges these criteria, suggesting that these and related ideas are rely on arbitrary and discriminatory notions of human moral status. Our propensity to sleep, fall unconscious, pass out and so on, demonstrates that we often exhibit our status as ‘potential persons’ who are not in the condition of attributing any value to their own existence. Our abilities, age and desirability can and do fluctuate. The equal dignity principle, distinguished in turn from both the excesses of vitalism and consequentialism, is analysed and defended in the context of human rights logic and law. The normalisation of non- and involuntary euthanasia, via such emerging practices as the self-styled Groningen Protocol, is considered. Substituted consent to the euthanasia of babies and others is scrutinised and the implications of institutionalising non-voluntary euthanasia in the context of financial, research and political interests are considered. The impact on the medical and legal professions, carers, families and societies, as well as public attitudes more generally, is discussed. It is suggested that eroding the value of human life carries with it significant destructive long-term implications. To elevate some, often short-term, implications while ignoring others demonstrates the irrational nature of the effort to institutionalise euthanasia.
Jacqueline A Laing, "Infanticide: a reply to Giubilini and Minerva" J Med Ethics 2013;39:336-340 doi:10.1136/medethics-2012-100664