The trouble with academic papers
In recent days there have been headlines across our newspapers such as this "Abortion outrage: Mums should be allowed to terminate newborns, say Australian academics" (link). This is a sickening and tragic and has made many people angry. I can even see some of my readers horrified by this headline and not wanting to read any further. I completely understand.
But the true is, the controversial paper that is being discussed is a theoretical academic paper written by Alberto Giubilini, (University of Milan and Monash University) and Francesca Minerva (University of Melbourne and Oxford University) and published by the British Medical Journal and does not propose that this should happen, it is simply theoretical.
The academics argues that as abortions are allow in most countries why not the termination of a new born baby that would have been aborted if doctors and parents knew the full extent of the disability? It raises the whole question of abortion.
The ideas raised in the paper should and would make anyone have a reaction and you and I know and believe that this is morally wrong, but my question is - should academics have the right to write controversial theoretical papers such as this? This, and probably many others have been written, but generally remain in the domain of scientific/academic community and we never hear about them. In this current day of "freedom of speech", are researcher entitled to consider these issues? Or is it just too dangerous to have these issues out in the public in case someone in power picks up the idea and things it is good.
I'm not defending the paper (the idea makes me sick in the stomach), I'm asking the question of academics debate - and what is considered "unacceptable" or going "too far" in this modern age. Does this paper cross the line? According to Francesca Minerva “This was a theoretical and academic article,'' she said. ''I didn't mean to change any laws. I'm not in favour of infanticide. I'm just using logical arguments. The paper had been taken out of context, she said. It was intended for an academic community. 'This debate is not new. The debate has been going on for 30 years,'' she said. ''I don't think people outside bioethics should learn anything from this paper.'' (link)
A heavy topic for a Saturday but one that I have been pondering since I read the newspaper article yesterday and seen posts on various blogs.