Jeff Culbreath recently posted about the pro-infanticide article published in the Journal of Medical Ethics.
The first reaction by the journal to the firestorm caused by the article was that the editor, Julian Savulescu, defended his actions in publishing the article. He understood perfectly well that the article was pro-infanticide and said so in so many words. (By the way, Julian Savulescu, an avid admirer of pro-infanticide Peter Singer, is nobody's sweet maiden aunt. See here and here.) Savulescu piously declared not that the article did not advocate infanticide but that he had to publish it because it was just so gosh-darned academically top-notch and because his professional ethics wouldn't allow him to block an article from publication merely on such grounds as that its conclusions are, y'know, morally heinous.
But the firestorm didn't abate, so the new response of the journal has been to take down access to the article from its website [see correction below] and to publish an "apology" (scare quotes very much intentional) from the authors. The poor things have been misunderstood. You see, they were just writing to fellow bioethicists. They didn't mean for hoi polloi to read their article. The ignorant masses are unable to sit around in that state of higher consciousness achieved by ethicists who talk coolly about bumping off Grandma, discussing these matters calmly and rationally. The ignorant masses have all these emotions that get in the way, whereas their article was a "pure exercise of logic." They thought perhaps someone would challenge their premises in a further article. They never meant to recommend any actual infanticidal public policies (and they should have made this clearer), because they're just theorists--philosophers, not policy makers. There could be all kinds of "practical" and "emotional" and "social" considerations against actually permitting infanticide legally. Oh, and also, nobody should think that they "were in favour of killing people." (No, of course not. Because according to their own words in the article, newborns are not "actual people." )
Wesley J. Smith ably takes apart their non-apology here. He dismantles their implication that they weren't really advocating infanticide but only showing logical connections between propositions. Smith points to money quotes like:
If the death of a newborn is not wrongful to her on the grounds that she cannot have formed any aim that she is prevented from accomplishing, then it should also be permissible to practice after-birth abortion on a healthy newborn too.
Why should we kill a healthy newborn when giving it up for adoption would not breach anyone’s right but possibly increase the happiness of the people involved? … On this perspective … we also need to consider the interests of the mother who might suffer psychological distress from giving up her child for adoption.
To which I add (emphasis added):
By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.
Now quick! Get that sunlight outta here! We want to have our philosophical discussion about killing babies undisturbed by anyone outside of the Anointed Circle.
("For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." The Gospel according to St. John, Chapter 3, vs. 20)
Update and correction: The article appears to be still available on the web site here, so it appears that Smith's report of its disappearance was in error. Thanks to an alert reader at WSJ's blog who noticed this.