It is a dreaded fear of every parent – to give birth to a child with a disability. It changes the family for a lifetime. Difficult as it is, most parents adapt to the situation and learn to love and care for this precious child as they would one without a disability. For others, death would be better than a life of incapacity and the burden it brings to daily living.
That is why infanticide is being discussed and even practiced in some parts of our country and the world.
What is Infanticide?
Infanticide is the practice of killing a child, usually a newborn, who has a disability. Death is intentionally caused by injection of a lethal substance, obviously without the consent of the patient.
Infanticide can also be a result of refusing treatment for an infant with a disability when that treatment would be readily available for a child without a disability.
Infanticide occurs when a woman conceals a pregnancy and then kills the newborn child or dumps it in a place where it will die. "Baby drop programs" have been enacted in most states, including Wyoming. Under this type of law, a baby can be relinquished at a hospital emergency room without prejudice or fear of criminal prosecution. The baby will be cared for by hospital personnel, and then turned over to the appropriate authorities for adoption. Women need to know that there is no need to panic and kill their children for fear of discovery of a pregnancy.
Where is infanticide legal? Or being discussed?
Infanticide by lethal injection is prohibited under the general homicide laws of all of the fifty states.
In 1983, a baby boy born in Indiana with Down syndrome was allowed to die. His esophagus was not joined to his stomach, preventing him from processing food. This surgery is routinely performed on infants without disabilities. The little boy died because his parents refused to consent to the surgery. Following this highly publicized case, the U.S. Congress enacted the Child Abuse Amendments of 1984, 42 U.S.C.A. § 5102 to ensure that infants with disabilities receive appropriate treatment.
Since 1998, Professor Peter Singer has held a distinguished position at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. Among other controversial views, Singer advocates for allowing parents a 14-day window after the birth of a child to decide if the child should be killed or allowed to live.