Infanticide should be legal

As a staunch pro-choicer, I believe that abortion is acceptable at any point during the pregnancy. I have zero objections to it, because I don’t believe a fetus is a person. I think personhood should be defined by whether you have self awareness and concious thoughts.

Pro-lifers often seize upon this, and point out that under this system of morality it would be okay to kill a baby that has been born.

This is exactly what I believe.

Around the age of two is when people begin to have concious memories. I believe this is the point when you become a person worthy of legal protection.

I think that if neither biological parent wishes to take responsibility for a child before it reaches that age, they should be able to legally kill it in a humane manner. I think 18 months should be the cutoff point, just in case the child is precocious.

OK guy, that’s very interesting…Just wait here, I have some “friends” coming by…they’ll give you a new coat with very long arms and lots of buckles, and then you’ll get to ride in their big van!

Edges nervously away
No, really, WTF??? Are you insane? There are so many people out there who would love to have a child and can’t, wouldn’t it be better for everyone if you just gave your child away if you didn’t want it? Especially since you bothered to go through that whole “pregnancy” thing when you didn’t have to if you didn’t want a child?
Not to mention the fact that ANYONE who would kill their not-quite-two-year-old has got to be legally insane. Anyone with kids knows this.

Seek help.

Would it also be legal to torture them or maim them? Why or why not? It seems as if the child would be considered property under your proposal. Could they be bought and sold? How about harvested for organs? Would there be any conditions under which the child could be taken away from the parents?

Why does it have to be humane? If it isn’t worthy of any protection why should it matter how you kill it.

I have a feeling that you are pulling our leg here.

For the same reason you can kill a cow, but you can’t torture it.

IIRC, something similar to that happened in Ancient Rome. After a baby was born, it would be taken to its father who would decide whether he wanted to keep it or not. If he rejected it, it would be taken to the top of some sort of hill and left there to die. If he accepted it, it would become a full citizen of Rome and harming to would be illegal.

Not quite as extreme as 2 years after birth, but the same sort of idea.

This depends on what you mean by “conscious memories”. If you mean you can’t remember anything about being one year old, that doesn’t mean you weren’t self-aware or able to feel pain back then. If you mean you weren’t self-aware or able to feel pain back then…cite? [Is it appropriate to ask for citations in GD? Sorry…I still haven’t completely worked out the etiquette of the SDMB]

The question of abortion is reducable to a question of when a collection of matter becomes such that we are willing to provide it special protection reserved for human beings. (And as underage citizens, in terms of this debate.) There is no magical point at which the distinction can be drawn.

Even so, drawing the line at 2 years old is not utility-maximizing. The following arguments are above and beyond any arguments about abortion That is, they cannot be meaningfully asserted for abortions. There is no slippery slope from pro-choice arguments to these.

The gain to society would be minimal because:

  1. Very few people would gain much net peace of mind from disposing of their child.
  2. At this point, the child LOOKS like a human being and FEELS like a human being, only smaller. In fact, human biology makes us find small things with big eyes and big heads (i.e. babies and puppies) cute. Therefore people who dispose of their two year old may be showing abberant behavior that may indicate a predisposition to kill similar things. This will function as a detterent that stops many people from doing or enjoying infantacide and punishing those who do.

Society will endure a net loss of utility because:

  1. Infantacide would allow parents to condition the survivial of their offspring on factors not normally considered - skin color, gender, eye shape, what have you. Individuals will not be making decisions in the common interest. The sum total of these individual decisions could change the makeup of society in unforseen ways. Example: China’s high rate of infantacide means they have 110 men for every woman (about.). Consider the socially disruptive force this creates.

  2. Women will, in the end, be subjected to MORE time bearing children. If a couple has a child but it proves unsatisfactory, presumably some of those couples will try again for a better child. (With abortion, it was the pregnancy itself that was avoidable, but here it was the particular child.) One infantacide may entail eighteen months of non-productivity for the woman.

Adoption is a perfectly reasonable alternative. (Unlike abortion, where one overriding reason for allowing it - avoiding the loss of productivity in pregnancy - is completely lost by going for adoption.)


And what reason would that be?

You very obviously do not have children (I hope). A baby is self aware long before eighteen months of age, let alone two years. Hell, by 17-18 months the vast majority of kids are advanced enough to recognize a reflection as themself. You realize most one-year-olds can talk, right? And make requests, and state preferences, and share emotion—none of which exactly speaks of the type of inert existence you’re describing.

I actually agree with a very small kernel of your OP–that being that euthanizing very, very new infants for health reasons seems like something our society should consider. We don’t let animals live in the kind of pain and misery that some kids are subjected to just because they happened to make it full-term in spite of their deformities or disease. Otherwise, you’re making a solution for a problem that does not exist. Our society has adoption procedures in place for those times people don’t feel able to be a parent.

Are you serious or is this a strawman? I ask because there is a short story, by Philip K. Dick (the title eludes me) where in the future a woman could ask for an abortion up until the child was able to learn advanced mathematics (calculus, IIRC). They were tested at 13 years old. The story was based on an underground railroad type organization that helped shelter kids until they were old enough and educated enough to pass the test. This sounds pretty similar.

The story was called The Pre-Persons and was written in 1974 as his reaction to Roe v. Wade. And they became people, legally, when they learned simple algebra, not calculus. Sorry.

If you accept this premise, then your conclusion is not unreasonable. If a fetus can be aborted 2 days before its expected delivery date, how is that substantively different from killing the baby 2 days after it is born? Especially since it’s unlcear that killing the fetus and aborting it is any less dangerous to the mother than delivering it.

So, the issue is whether or not your premise is reasonable. I submit that it is not. We simply do not know when consciousness emerges and in what stages it does so. Yes, any limit we put on abortion is somewhat arbitirary. But when a human life is at stake, it would behoove one to err on the side of caution rather than on expediency. For that reason, I think the most reasonable approach is to take viability outside the womb as the criteria for when abortions should not be allowed, and then back that up a month or so in order to “err on the side of caution”. If the parent or parents do not want to keep the baby, it can become a ward of the state and/or be put up for adoption.

Killing a live baby is an option that simply is not necessary in any context.

I believe the parents should be able to give the infant away, but I see no reason to allow infanticide.

Abortion allows a woman to control her own body for her own sake. Pregnancy can’t be “cured” by adoption. Parenthood, on the other hand, can be “cured” by adoption. Don’t want the kid? Give the kid away.

Then it simply leaves the question of what to do if no one wants the kid. That’s an entirely different debate.


As the mother of a soon-to-be 2-year-old daughter, I question your conclusion. What do you mean she doesn’t have not ‘concious memories?’ Adults can’t remember being 2, but she can remember things. She remembers Christmas, and visiting her grandmother over Thanksgiving.

SHe loves playing with her best friend Fiona, reading books, telling silly jokes, going to the park, dancing to Disco music, and eating speggetti. She has thoughts, opinions, feelings and memories. She is full of love and joy.

The thought of killing her out of convenience is so horrific I can’t begin to describe it. I dare anyone to watch her boogie down to ‘YMCA’ and then tell me she’s not deserving of our societal protection.

Her birthday is March 4th. She’ll be 2.

If 18 months is an unacceptable cutoff point, then make it one year. And just to make sure there aren’t any early bloomers, perform tests to ensure they haven’t achieved the criteria for personhood yet.

What are the practical reasons for killing a baby?

What benefit does this bring?

Who is currently being harmed by not being able to legally kill their 1 year old baby?

Whose rights are being violated by not allowing this, and what rights would those be?

Even if we stipulate to your premise that a 1 year old baby is not a human being, why then does it follow that the parents of that non-person must therefore be given the right to kill it?

Why do we assume that the parents of the non-person are the owners of the non-person? Why does that follow from your premise that a 1 year old is not a person? Why can’t we decide that (for example) the state is the owner or trustee of the non-person? Why do we grant private parties the right to destroy this piece of property? Why do we grant them ownership?

If a bird flies onto your property does that give you the right to kill the bird? Do you now own the bird? In most cases you do NOT own an animal that wanders onto your property. In many cases it would be a crime for you to kill an animal, even if you were the owner. Why then would a parent own a non-person baby, simply because they gave birth to the baby, and why would ownership include the right to kill a non-person organism?

It would seem to me that if we stipulate to your premise that a 1 year old baby is not a person, then perhaps that might make enforcing child support on such a child impossible. But that doesn’t mean that the parents can therefore kill it, it simply means that they don’t have to take care of the baby. In that case, the state takes over and removes the baby from their custody. What happens next is a matter for the state to decide. Which means it is a matter for us as voters to decide. It would seem that the best solution in this case is to look around for other people who would volunteer to be custodians of the non-person. Hard though it may be for you to understand, such people actually exist. Even if such people could not be found, we could still support the non-person baby at public expense, if such were the will of the voters.

But of course, your premise is ridiculous. Babies form memories much much sooner than 2 years. My daughter is only a year old and she knows more than a hundred words. How could she know words unless she learned them? And how could she learn them unless she remembers them? And why should memory formation be the standard for personhood? If you are knocked unconscious and are not forming memories, can we therefore kill you?

Ridiculous. The only consolation is that you don’t actually believe the position you pretend to advance.

If I may modestly propose, Blaron really wants his baby-back baby-back baby-back ribs.

I believe the point where you become a person worthy of legal protection is when you can make OPs in GD without glaring errors of both fact and logic. Would you mind stepping this way Blalron?


Either Blalron is being completely sarcastic, or he’s the perfect person to send on the first manned mission to Mars. Just stuff him in with the next probe and see if he can survive the bounce landing (or the trip, for that matter). If he does, best of luck getting back.