Using a controversial article to teach academic argument
On February 23, 2012 an article entitled After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live? written by ethicists, Doctor Alberto Giubilini (University of Milan and Monash University) and Doctor Francesca Minerva (University of Melbourne) was electronically pre-published in the Journal of Medical Ethics (JME). In the article, Giubilini and Minerva proffer the argument that post-birth abortion is morally permissible, essentially because the newborn is not yet a person, that is, a being conscious of his or her own interests. They argue that foetuses and newborns “do not have the same moral status as actual persons” and conclude that “after birth abortion (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled”. As emotive as the content of articles such as Giubilini and Minerva’s may be, they serve as a rich teaching resource on a number of levels, particularly with respect to the teaching and learning of philosophical argument, including the establishment of premises, and the full implications of the conclusions to which they may lead. They also provide a gateway into the teaching and learning of wider philosophical and scientific concepts. This resource outlines some possible applications of the Giubilini and Minerva article. The suggested ideas form a framework for educators to expand in a manner suitable to the intended year level and the classroom context. The notes, activities and discussion points may be easily adapted to a relief lesson/s for small group or individual work. This resource has particular application for teachers of religious and values education, philosophy, English, and media studies. After-birth abortion teaching resource (PDF 191KB)

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