The main goal of this paper is to show how infanticide is wrong should not be allowed under any circumstance. Infanticide is a deliberate killing of an infant. This was a thing that has been in practice for a very long time. Even before the times of Jesus, it was widely practiced in the world. This paper will discuss about the historic perspective of infanticide for example among the Romans, the Greeks and the Christians. It will also look at it from different perspectives and the stand that these supporters hold. One of them is the Christianity perspective, from ethicist, and the legal perspective. The paper will also touch something little on euthanasia. Infanticide is even nowadays being practiced but not in an open manner for example, infants are dumped by their parents, neglected by their parents to die slowly or are mercy killed.
Infanticide is an intentional killing of an infant. This is an act that has been practiced since time immemorial and was and has been committed by the mother of the infact although in some cases even the father was involved. In the past, the practice was a cultural thing among the pastoralists but it has changed and is now deemed to be both immoral and criminal. In the western world, it was mostly practiced by parents with mental illness and those with violent behaviors whereas in some countries it was as a form of birth control. Infanticide is not just the killing of the infants as sometimes it involves selective killing of the female infants. In the historic times, the infanticide was determined by supply as well as the demand forces of the population. It was determined by the attitudes of death inevitability. Is it morally right to practice infanticide, should it be allowed or banned? Under what circumstances should infanticide be allowed?
It is human to protect the infants and yet others practice it for their own reasons. Of all the infants that are killed, about 15 percent are killed by their own parents. There are various reasons that make parents get no feeling when they are killing these infants and one of these reasons is that infants are not regarded as human beings. The Romans for example, believed that a newly born child is not in any way different from an animal or a plant and for this reason they had no regard for it. This belief that was well propagated during those times, tended to justify an action that would in normal circumstances been regarded as murder. This mostly applied to those children that had physical defects, behaviors and other disabilities. (Schwartz, L. and Natalie L. 2000) These children were regarded as devil’s or super natural’s forces and as they were evil. There was also what they called changelings or those infants that were believed to have been exchanged by the devil with the normal infants. This attitude of seeing infants as evil, worthless and dangerous rationalized the act of killing so as to end the burden of bringing up, without feeling guilty or remorseful. (Alvin J. 2004)
In the early period, the birth of a new born child was not deemed to be transition to life for example, the England’s common law presumed than infant to be a human being only after it was thirty days or appropriately one month old. In these times, the killer could not be questioned as its life was still in doubts. In Japan, the practice was rampant and the child was considered to be alive after it cried, before this, it was considered to be subject to be killed. The debate over when the life of an infant begins has preoccupied the minds of scientists as well as of ethicists. Even some philosophers hold the view that an infant is not a human being and because of this, taking its life according to them should not under any circumstance be termed as murder. (Alvin J. 2004)
In the eighteenth century, infanticide was a normal thing but later this changed due to improved sanitary conditions though this only reduced those deaths that resulted from other factors such as health and cleanliness but this only reduced those deaths that resulted from other factors such as health and cleanliness. According to the Christians, infanticide amounts to killing and should not be allowed whatsoever and it was severally condemned in the Christian literatures of the past. The bible which is the Christian’s sacred book condemns killing for example, in the Law of Moses, killing is forbidden and doing it is violating one of the Ten Commandments.” Thou shall not kill.” They are also motivated by St. Paul’s words that were written to them while he was in Rome shortly before he was killed by Nero.
According to the Christians, infanticide amounts to killing and should not be allowed whatsoever and it was severely condemned in the Christian literatures of the past. The bible which is the Christian’s sacred book totally condemns killing for example, in the Ten Commandments that were given to Moses, one of them was, “Thou shall not kill.” They are also motivated by St Paul’s words that were written to them while he was in Rome shortly before he was executed by executed by Nero. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
Because of these teachings, they could not practice infanticide as it would have been a violation of human sanctity. In as much as the Christians would try to preach against infanticide, they could not manage to stop it as Christianity had not yet attained the legal status but after it was legalized, it was outlawed by the first Christian emperor, Valentinian. Though it was outlawed, the practice did not end and continued to be practiced as not all pagans had been converted to Christianity. (Spinelli M. G., 2003)
Campaigns against infanticide are still very vibrant, Christians do criticize and condemn it using the strongest terms possible. From a Christian perspective, I would say infanticide is evil and that no one has the right to kill. All people are God’s creation and for this reason, God is the only one who has the right to take it. Thus if anyone kills, then it is usurping the role of God and according to the holy bible, this amounts to blasphemy and a sin. There should be no doubt as to whether an infant is a human being as life starts after conception thus killing is committing murder and anyone caught doing the same should be arrested and be subjected to the law in its fullest by being sentenced to death.
Society is made up of human beings and it is through their efforts that it grows and develops. People achieve these goals through interdependence as no man could survive alone. What we forget is that when we kill, the world will still need people for its continuation. So, if we kill the infants, then it means that there will be no future generations or in other words, the human race will come to an end. If this is also looked from a biblical perspective, it is written in the bible that,”Multiply and fill the earth.” Thus not taking heed of this is a contravention of the same.
In the Judeo Christian, it was the will of God for all humans to stay alive as no one knows whether that infant is killing will become their future king. After Jesus was born, infanticide prevalence started to diminish as the belief that if you kill an infant you will not go to heaven and that a very harsh punishment awaited whoever killed, made people to fear it. Even today the belief is still powerful as it is believed that all sinners and murderers included will not be heirs to the kingdom of heaven.
From the eyes of the law, infanticide should not be allowed. It is a very serious crime and the perpetrators should face the full force of the law by being arrested and punished accordingly. In the past, it was neither considered as immoral nor illegal and the father had the control over the infant’s life. This was something that was favored by the Roman’s and Greek’s laws. The legal actions against the perpetrators came in to force in the 4th century when secular laws were legally instituted and infanticide started being punished by death. In the Renaissance period, a stronger position against it was taken after the political unrest and increased poverty led to the rise in infanticides. The legislation that was passed held that anyone who was convicted of violating this law would be sentenced to death. (Spinelli M. G., 2003)
In the 21st century, infanticide in America is classified as homicide and those who commit it are sentenced to death depending on their country or state. Currently, campaigns against it are very vibrant and harsh laws have been passed. I believe that there is no body that kills an infant irrespective of his status, sex, or cultural background should be spared by the law. In fact the law should be applied in its strictest form. The human life whether of an infant or of a child should not be taken away instead it should be highly cherished and everybody should be given a chance to live. According to the US constitution, nobody has a right to kill and this is a right that surpasses all other morality considerations. For this reason, killing is murder as it is prescribed in the constitution and the penalty is death if one is committed of committing it.
Going by the principle of life sanctity, body deformities do not in any way affect the moral state of the infant and so, nobody should kill it. Despite the fact that infanticide is evil and immoral, some people have been hampering the law from taking its course. A case in hand is of a baby that was born suffering from Down syndrome. Mostly, these children do not survive and unfortunately this one had an esophagus problem so he could not eat. This baby could have been saved by surgery services but parents decided to starve it to death. The Reagan’s administration in reaction passed a legislation to outlaw such an act but the American Medical Institution opposed making the Supreme Court to reject it. (Schwartz, L. and Natalie L. 2000)
Euthanasia should not be allowed if the fight against infanticide is to be won this is because, if it is allowed, there will be loopholes in the law and people will capitalizing on them to continue killing infanticides so that they would avoid taking the responsibility of taking care of it.
From an ethicist perspective, killing is morally wrong under any circumstances. It is a crime from the law perspective, a sin as per the Christian teachings and morally wrong according to the ethicists. Killing another human being is like eating another person or what is called cannibalism. By killing an infant you may be killing a future doctor, president, professor or a lawyer so, everybody should be given a chance to realize their potentials. Infants should be given an opportunity to shape their destiny. (Milner Larry S. 1998) No one should have the right to control the life of another except God the almighty and the creator. He is the only one who knows the reason why he created each and every one of us and for this reason he should be let to do whatever he wants with his creations.
Though infanticide is a crime and is morally wrong, there are some instances that euthanasia or mercy killing should be allowed. For example, an infant who is born with most of its brains missing should not be let to suffer. This kind of a baby is called epencephalic and though it is a human being biologically, it could never develop its consciousness but at a much cost, the baby could survive for several years. Viewed from a neutral perspective, this in fact would remain to be a burden to its parents yet it will not in any way be useful to the society. In such a case, I think mercy killing should be allowed so as to save the baby from its pain and the parents, the pain of taking care of the baby plus the high maintenance and the burden of keeping it.
In short, killing of innocent infants cannot be allowed under any circumstance as it amounts to murder. Historically, killing of infants was not illegal or morally wrong and it was practiced without fear. Infants were not regarded as human beings and as thus they could be killed just like animals. Some other cultures did not have value for the life of an infant and some even considered it as a human being only after some period. Currently, campaigns against it are very vibrant and harsh laws have been passed. Various steps have been taken against it but some people still practice it.
Alvin J. 2004. How Christianity Changed the World. Zondervan.
Schwartz, Lita Natalie L. Endangered Children: Neonaticide, Infanticide, and
Filicide. CRC Press. 2000.
Spinelli M. G.Infanticide: Psychosocial and Legal Perspectives on Mothers who
Kill. American Psychiatric Pub. 2003.
Milner Larry S. A Brief History of Infanticide:
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