A little while ago Freddie deBoer argued that, though he disagrees with our principles, “there’s one thing [conservatives] get right: they are correct when they predict the consequences of the next social change.”
This is true—well, aside from the “one thing” bit, anyway. Conservatives get stuff right. Consider, for example, the fact that infanticide is becoming a defensible position to hold:
A biologist at one of the most prestigious universities in the country has come out in favor of killing disabled newborn babies, declaring that “it is time to add to the discussion the euthanasia of newborns.”
In a post on his personal blog, University of Chicago Prof. Jerry Coyne expressed approval over the idea of killing “newborns who have horrible conditions or deformities, or are doomed to a life that cannot by any reasonable light afford happiness…”
“If you are allowed to abort a fetus that has a severe genetic defect, microcephaly, spina bifida, or so on,” Coyne asks, “then why aren’t you able to euthanize that same fetus just after it’s born?”
Comparing newborns to dogs and cats, Coyne claims that “some day the practice [of killing disabled newborns] will be widespread, and it will be for the better.”
Now, it would be easy enough for me to point out that, yes, we called this, we predicted it. Pro-lifers have been arguing for years that the pro-choice principle does not, in any meaningful way, exclude newborn babies from being killed: all of the arguments in favor of abortion—that unborn humans have no self-awareness, no desires, no consciousness, no hopes, dreams, aspirations, and that it is thus acceptable to kill them—apply more or less entirely to newborn babies. Indeed, this is an argument Coyne makes explicit: “[N]ewborn babies aren’t aware of death,” he writes, “aren’t nearly as sentient as an older child or adult, and have no rational faculties to make judgment.” Off with their heads! (Editor’s note: I know that doctors wouldn’t actually be beheading babies—it’s a figure of speech. They’d simply be injecting them with a lethal dose of barbiturates. Much cleaner.)
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Coyne is only arguing for killing babies with “horrible conditions or deformities,” or those who are “doomed to a life that cannot by any reasonable light afford happiness!” Our civilized culture would never sanction infanticide for healthy babies! But you don’t really believe that—not at this late date, not as a respected professor at a world-class university is honestly arguing in favor of a Sparta-style infant murder regime. In any event, Coyne has already given up the game: he justifies disabled-baby euthanasia by claiming that “you are [already] allowed to abort a fetus that has a severe genetic defect, microcephaly, spina bifida, or so on.” But that’s only half of it: you are actually allowed to abort for whatever reason you want—so why shouldn’t the same principle apply to killing your newborn?
This idea already has some currency in certain dank corners of academia; the British Journal of Medical Ethics some years ago ran a paper by two professors arguing for “after-birth abortion,” i.e. killing babies after they are born, “including cases where the newborn is not disabled.” I suppose, for now, it is largely still required that one qualify one’s infanticide with certain restrictions, e.g. that your baby should have spina bifida before you execute it. But that will surely change, and probably more quickly than you can imagine: in the next decade, if not less, we can probably expect more than a few of the enlightened progressives that run most of our academic institutions to come out in favor of healthy newborn euthanasia, after which they’ll start working their way up to toddlers and eventually retarded and otherwise-disabled adolescents.
This will happen—it is not a question of “if.” And when it does, you can thank us conservatives for at least having the foresight to call it ahead of time, even if nobody listened to us. “Some day the practice will be widespread,” Coyne writes, “and it will be for the better.” He’s right about the first part.