Journal of Medical Ethics on Infanticide, Abortion

coverIn January 2012, the Journal of Medical Ethics published a controversial article suggesting that the reasons that support legalized abortion should also be invoked to permit infanticide, something the authors refer to as after-birth abortion. More recently, an American physician was convicted of murder, and now faces the death penalty, for infanticides that he defended as abortions.

The original Journal of Medical Ethics article generated an outcry of opposition from physicians, philosophers, and even on the floor of the United States Congress. The journal’s editor, Julian Savulescu, issued a statement defending the article’s publication, while also affirming his own opposition to infanticide. Now, the journal has released a special edition on the debate, which includes both pro-choice and pro-life responses. For the next month, access to the special edition is free.

Also available is a brief but engaging interview with Nigel Biggar on the topic, conducted by the BBC’s David Edmunds. Download directly from the JME or listen here:

Finally, the issue includes an exchange between Charles Camosy, former McDonald Visiting Fellow, and Princeton’s Robert George—both of whom oppose abortion under any circumstances, but who disagree about how best to engage those who differ. The question of how best to make the public case for or against abortion was previously addressed on this site by the McDonald Centre’s John Perry.

Citizen Ethics in a Time of Crisis

The Guardian has published an impressive collection of short essays on the public place of ethics—in economic, political, and social life. Writers include Philip Pullman, Michael Sandel, Rowan Williams, John Milbank, Polly Toynbee, Madeleine Bunting, Tariq Ramadan, and others. Nigel Biggar’s contribution, The Cult of Freedom, argues that the BBC’s handling of the Ross/Brand affair reveals the moral poverty of an exclusive focus on autonomy and rights.

 The pamphlet, entitled Citizen Ethics in a Time of Crisis, was distributed as a supplement with Sunday’s paper and is also available online. It was assembled by the Citizens Ethics Network, which seeks to address the widespread concern that the winner-takes-all mentality of the banker, and the corrupted values of the politician, have replaced a common sense ethics of fairness and integrity. The Guardian invites online discussion of the essays.

A debate will be held among some of the contributors this Friday, 26 February, in the British Museum. Michael Sandel, Rowan Williams, and Diane Coyle will discuss Who Deserves What? Ethics in a Time of Crisis. Tickets and more information are available here.