What was meant to stay within the ethereal world of academia escaped into the world's news media and from there has gone viral via the internet.
Needless to say pro-life campaigners are shrieking that this is the logical consequence of even allowing abortion at any stage since it is impossible to determine unequivocally at what point there is a change from a collection of cells to a little potential human being.
I think the proposition has raised nearly as much disquiet among the pro-choice campaigners just by the logical absurdity of the proposition "after-birth abortion".
The ethicists for their part claim they were not proposing any form of legal policy - rather they were offering a proposition for others to wrestle with:
Dr. Francesca Minerva, currently working at the University of Melbourne, co-wrote the paper, titled "After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?" with Dr. Alberto Giubilini. It was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, a leading international journal meant to promote ethical reflection and conduct in scientific research and medical practice. Drs. Minerva and Giubilini intended the paper to be a purely academic reflection on the nature of abortion and childcare, and to examine, from an ethicist's standpoint, why certain types of abortions are permitted while others were not. It was meant to be shared among the academic community, continuing a debate within the field of medical ethics that has been present for several decades.
It is perhaps understandable that in any such debate the proponents will push a clear boundary and see how and why people push back on it. I would suggest that they reached the ultimate boundary, but along the way they do raise a question worthy of consideration and clarification "why certain types of abortions are permitted and others were not."
As I was reading the article, a couple of thoughts came to my mind, especially in relation to late-term abortions in circumstances where there is little doubt that the baby is both normally formed and viable (or would be able to survive if born at that stage).
There has been a lot of public contrition about the practice of removing babies at birth from mothers in certain categories, not least because of the demonstrable psychological trauma experienced by both mother and child. I raise a question that I am not sure about, and I may be howled down for simply raising it: Is a decision for a late-term abortion of a viable child actually a selfish denial of life to a child that could be offered for adoption if the life-circumstances of the mother (and father) were such that it was not desirable to add a child to their life?
Perhaps this is an unanswerable question insofar as it will always require a specific situation to have meaning, but I am aware that there are countries where adoption practices do not involve the shroud of secrecy we have in this country and which result in a much healthier attitude to such practices and allowing that children can cope with multiple relationships - genetic family and adoptive family etc. If this is the case, what would be viable arguments against encouraging those wanting late-term abortions to allow the child to be delivered and then make it available for adoption.
Maybe I am doing what the ethicists did - throwing an idea out there to see what others think.
So - what do you think?