"Stephen N. Drake" wrote:
> FACT SHEET ON PETER SINGER
> According to Singer, to be ethical, we must treat all "persons" according
> to moral guidelines. But not all humans are "persons." Singer claims
> that in order to be "persons" and to deserve moral consideration, beings
> must be self-aware, and capable of perceiving themselves as individuals
> through time.
> Singer claims that no newborn infants are "persons." He claims that some
> people with life-long cognitive disabilities never become "persons" at
> any time throughout their lives. And he claims that some people who
> acquire cognitive disabilities through injury, Alzheimer's Disease, or
> other means cease to be "persons."
> Singer says that killing a "non-person," even if it is human, does not
> carry the same moral weight as killing a "person."
> It may be all right, according to Singer, to kill infants. Because they
> are not "persons," they have no interest in staying alive, and it is
> only superstition that makes us think that killing them is intrinsically
> Singer is quick to note that it is still wrong to kill most infants, for
> other reasons. The killing of an infant would, in most cases, make the
> parents unhappy. Second, in the cases where the parents do not want the
> infant, there are other couples and individuals who would like to adopt
> the child, so the child should be kept alive and put up for adoption.
> But infants with known disabilities, and especially cognitive
> disabilities, he says, do not bring the same amount of happiness into the
> lives of their parents. Additionally, the very fact that someone is
> disabled means that he or she will have an unhappier life than other
> people. And therefore the reasons not to kill non-disabled infants do not
> apply to disabled infants.
> Singer argues that it should be legal for parents to decide to have their
> disabled infants killed up to 28 days after birth. This way, he says,
> parents could have non-disabled replacements. In addition, the infants
> would provide a source of organs for transplantation to other infants who
> could grow up to be non-disabled.
> It may be all right, according to Singer, to kill people whose doctors
> claim they are severely cognitively disabled. Although Singer doesn't
> give a list, we know that people to whom labels like "mentally retarded,"
> "demented," "persistent vegetative state," and "severely brain-damaged"
> are applied are likely to have that judgment applied to them.
> Singer claims that such people are not "persons," and therefore can not
> be said to have an interest in staying alive. Unless the benefit to the
> people who love these "non-persons" outweighs the emotional and financial
> burden to individuals and society of keeping them alive, they can safely
> and deliberately be killed.
> The euthanasia of people whose minds are judged inadequate would be a way
> to save money. It would be a way to allow families to "move on." And it
> would provide a source of organs for transplantation to people whose minds
> have been judged acceptable. According to Singer, very often people with
> cognitive disabilities should be killed.
> Academic Dishonesty
> In building his case, Singer makes many assertions that he does not
> support, because they can not be supported.
> Singer writes as if impairment itself guarantees that people with
> disabilities will have fewer opportunities in life. He ignores the fact
> that many of the barriers people with disabilities face every day are
> created and sustained by the very society he claims should be allowed to
> kill them.
> He leads readers to believe that if some medical professionals judge the
> lives of people with disabilities as not worth living, that is indicative
> of how people with disabilities judge their own lives. In fact, study
> after study has shown that medical "experts" routinely underestimate the
> quality of life reported by people with disabilities.
> But Singer does not include people with disabilities in the discussion of
> the quality of their lives. He assumes that non-disabled academics and
> professionals are better qualified to discuss what it is like to have a
> disability than disabled people themselves.
> Singer suggests that decisions about who is a "person" can be made
> objectively and with little doubt, by doctors. In fact, doctors
> routinely underestimate the capacity of people who are judged to be
> mentally disabled.
> In short, a lot of Singer's "logic" is smoke and mirrors. It has no more
> basis in fact than the eugenic models of racial superiority and
> inferiority that were widely held and respected in the first decades of
> this century.
> Demands for Injustice
> Singer is not simply arguing academic theories. He is urging that policy
> decisions be made on the basis of his ideas. His demands for "academic
> freedom" are merely attempts to keep the affected people out of the
> If Singer's approach were to be put into law, as he wants, a new class of
> non-citizens would be created. A group of people with disabilities would
> be forced to prove that they were "persons" before even being granted the
> most basic right, the right not to be killed at society's convenience.
> When people assume mental capacity, they tend to find mental capacity.
> When people assume mental incapacity, they tend to find mental incapacity.
> To demand that people assumed to be incapable pass a higher test than
> those assumed to be capable merely to stay alive is simply unjust.
> Singer claims to be speaking for the vast majority of non-disabled
> people. He claims he is only saying what everyone else thinks. We in the
> disability community call for a clear statement on the part of people
> without disabilities that we are entitled to the equal protection of the