Princeton prof Peter Singer says killing disabled newborns is acceptable
PRINCETON, N.J. (BP)--Princeton University's Peter Singer, widely known for his founding of the Great Ape Project to grant apes the same rights as humans, said Sept. 11 he would kill a disabled baby “if that was in the best interests of the baby and of the family as a whole.”
“Many people find this shocking, yet they support a woman’s right to have an abortion,” Singer, a professor of bioethics, said in a question and answer article in The Independent, a British newspaper. “One point on which I agree with opponents of abortion is that, from the point of view of ethics rather than the law, there is no sharp distinction between the fetus and the newborn baby.”
Singer’s position is the "logical extension of the culture of death," LifeSiteNews.com, a pro-life news agency, asserted. He contends there is no inherent dignity in man and no sanctity of human life. Singer rejects the idea that man was created in the image and likeness of God, the site noted, and therefore believes man deserves no special treatment.
“Once again Singer is making distinctions between human beings he would consider normal and those he would consider not normal, thus he is deciding who is a person and who is not,” Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, told LifeSiteNews.com. “Non-persons are allowed to be killed.”
In the same article, Singer was asked a question about giving rights to animals that can’t understand those rights: “Isn't it contradictory to ascribe human-based rights to animals? Surely it is absurd to apply a purely human concept to an animal who has no hope of ever understanding such a thing.”
Singer said the idea of giving human-based rights to animals was not at all absurd.
“Anyone who ascribes rights to babies or humans with intellectual disabilities must be willing to attribute rights to beings who can't understand the concept,” Singer said. “It's the moral agents, the ones who are acting, who need to understand the concept. Those to whom we attribute rights do not need to understand these concepts.”
Another question dealt with what Singer would do if he were forced to decide between “shooting 10 healthy cows and one healthy human.”
“I've written that it is much worse to kill a being who is aware of having a past and a future, and who plans for the future,” Singer said. “Normal humans have such plans, but I don't think cows do. And normal humans have family and friends who will grieve their death in ways more vivid and longer-lasting than the way cows may care about other cows. (Although a cow certainly misses her calf for a long time, if the calf is taken from her. That's why there is a major ethical problem with dairy products.) If I really had to make such a decision, I'd kill the cows.”
When asked whether there are moral absolutes, Singer said there is only one.
“The only moral absolute is that we should do what will have the best consequences for all those affected by our actions,” he said.
In a question and answer article for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida published Sept. 14, Singer again addressed the issue of euthanasia.
“You've written about Terri Schiavo,” reporter Susan Aschoff said. “You say people have the right to end their lives or those of their loved ones. Where do you draw the line?”
“You have to distinguish cases,” Singer said, “where people are competent to make their own decisions and cases where human beings are not competent, and who should then make those decisions. If it's a newborn baby, it's really the parents.
“When we talk about decisions that are made in utero, most people would agree that a pregnant woman who has a fetus with a severe abnormality ought to be able to terminate the pregnancy,” he added. “Most people, including Catholic hospitals, don't say you have to do everything to keep a newborn infant alive.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., has written commentaries on Singer’s radical views several times, including in 2005 when Mohler said the very fact that Singer and others seriously make such arguments about the value of human life indicates that the culture of death is growing in assertiveness.
“Once we accept any moral distinction between a human being and a human person, we embrace the logic of death and inch our way toward an inevitable embrace of murder. It doesn't get much scarier than this,” Mohler wrote.