Peter Singer says infants aren't normal human beings with rights to life and liberty: "Characteristics like rationality, autonomy and self-consciousness...make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings."
"In the animal kingdom, after all, parents sometimes kill and even devour their offpsring". Singer argues that the West can learn from the other cultures like the Kalahari where children are routinely killed when they are unwanted, even when they are several years old.
According to Singer, some humans are non-persons, while some non-human animals are persons. The key is not nature or species membership, but consciousness. A pre-conscious human cannot suffer as much as a conscious horse. In dealing with animals, we care only about their quality of life. We put a horse that has broken its leg out of its misery as quickly as possible. This merciful act spares the animal an untold amount of needless suffering. If we look upon human animals in the same fashion, our opposition to killing those who are suffering will begin to dissolve. The "quality-of-life" ethic has a tangible correlative when it relates to suffering; the "sanctity-of-life" seemingly relates to a mere vapor.
According to this avant garde thinker, a suffering or disabled child would have a weaker claim not to be killed than a mature pig. Singer writes, in Rethinking Life and Death:
Human babies are not born self-aware or capable of grasping their lives over time. They are not persons. Hence their lives would seem to be no more worthy of protection that the life of a fetus.
And writing specifically about Down syndrome babies, he advocates trading a disabled or defective child (one who is apparently doomed to too much suffering) for one who has better prospects for happiness:
We may not want a child to start on life's uncertain voyage if the prospects arc clouded. When this can be known at a very early stage in the voyage, we may still have a chance to make a fresh start. This means detaching ourselves from the infant who has been born, cutting ourselves free before the ties that have already begun to bind us to our child have become irresistible. Instead of going forward and putting all our effort into making the best of the situation, we can still say no, and start again from the beginning.
In a 1995 article in the London Spectator entitled "Killing Babies Isn't Always Wrong," Singer said "That day had to come," states Singer, "when Copernicus proved that the earth is not at the center of the universe. It is ridiculous to pretend that the old ethics make sense when plainly they do not. The notion that human life is sacred just because it's human is medieval."
Peter Singer was appointed by Obama as part of his Health Care Team...