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Bioethicist Says Being Human Gives No Right to Life

One of the worlds most prominent - and controversial - ethicists published an op-ed in a Scottish newspaper yesterday defending abortion, claiming that just because a baby is human doesn't mean it has a right to live. is reporting that Princeton philosopher and bioethicist Peter Singer, who espouses an extreme form of Utilitarianism, wrote in an August 15 article appearing in The Scotsman that "We have no obligation to allow every being with the potential to become a rational being to realize that potential . . . . If it comes to a clash between the supposed interests of potentially rational but not yet conscious beings and the vital interests of actually rational women, we should give preference to the women every time."

LifeSite's Hilary White explains that Singer carries the concept of utilitarianism, which dictates that all human action must be ordered to producing happiness and reducing suffer, to an extreme. He believes that human life has no inherent value and that the overall happiness of the world is best achieved by simply eliminating all those who suffer.

"To justify this, Singer has developed the idea that only those with a certain level of cognitive function can be considered 'persons'," White explains, "which idea he expanded to propose that any creature with higher presumptive cognitive functions than the bare minimum were also persons, including great apes, dogs, and dolphins."

Hence, as Singer writes in The Scotsman, “We can plausibly argue that we ought not to kill, against their will, self-aware beings who want to continue to live. We can see this as a violation of their autonomy, or a thwarting of their preferences. But why should a being’s potential to become rationally self-aware make it wrong to end its life before it has the capacity for rationality or self-awareness?”

Although these ideas may seem impossibly extreme, Singer is considered to be one of the most prestigious philosophers and bioethicists in the world, currently serving as the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. He is also a Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne.

"Even as one of the most famous professional philosophers in the world, Singer’s ideas continue to shock pro-life people with his forthright defense of infanticide, the wholesale killing of people with dementia, the sexual use of animals, (whom he maintains are capable of 'consent'), and the use of the cognitively disabled for medical experiments," White writes.

"As a bioethicist, Singer swats aside outdated concepts like 'mercy killing' to end the suffering of the patient, arguing instead that it is the suffering of the patient’s family, friends, and of society as a whole that is more important. Suffering patients cost society money to keep alive and comfortable; they demand extra care and time that diminishes the freedom and autonomy of their caregivers."

Lest we believe that philosophers are nothing more than "tenured eggheads," White warns that philosophy is the foundation of societies and determines how we decide what is and what is not morally acceptable.

"Over the last few centuries, there has been a slow but massive shift, mostly unknown to us ordinary folks outside the ivy-covered walls, away from traditional Judeo-Christian ethics to these new, Enlightenment-era principles," she writes.

"Philosophy and culture are inextricably connected, but it is usually only when a man like Peter Singer writes his ideas out loud in a daily newspaper that the general public starts to become aware of the origins of our current cultural sickness."

Sadly, these opinions have already pervaded society. " . . . (T)hese new ideas have slowly grown their poisoned tendrils into every corner of human endeavor and strangled the basic notions upon which our civilization was built."

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