By Michael Hill
People with disabilities and supporters demanded Princeton University fire tenured philosopher and Bioethics Professor Peter Singer because, they say, Singer advocates killing disabled babies.
“He’s calling for people with disabilities to be euthanized. We don’t, that doesn’t happen any more. He should not have a platform to do this or be on Princeton’s faculty,” said Alliance Center for Independence Executive Director Carole Tonks.
In the late 90s, protesters opposed Princeton hiring Singer who says health care is a scarce resource and it should be rationed. In this argument, Singer says why should everyone pay for higher premiums for a severely disabled baby who has no hope of recovery or a productive life?
“It should be permissible to make sure that baby dies swiftly and humanely. If that’s your decision, if your decision is that it’s better that the child should not live,” Singer said.
Singer urges the decision be made early in life.
“I do think that it’s important to make decisions early because there’s simply the fact of human attachment beyond that point,” he said.
“He has a platform to influence million of our future leaders. It’s a very dangerous, dangerous precedent that he is setting,” said New Jersey Right to Life Executive Director Marie Tasy.
“The rhetoric that he speaks is damaging and hurtful to not only parents like me, but when other people get information like this, they’re going to end up looking at our children very differently and that’s everything we’ve been trying to change over all of these years. We want people to see our children as contributing members. Their lives are meaningful,” said Mother Donna Bouclier.
In a recent interview about whether the government or insurers should “institute” killing disabled babies to reduce costs, Singer replied, “I think if you had a health care system in which governments were trying to say, ‘Look, there are some things that don’t provide enough benefits given the costs of those treatments. And if we didn’t do them we would be able to do a lot more good for other people who have better prospects,’ then yes.”
Singer added most people would say “’I don’t want my health insurance premiums to be higher so that infants who can experience zero quality of life can have expensive treatments.’”
“If it’s non-voluntary, it’s not fair for anyone to not have the option to live just because of a disability,” said Rider University junior Danielle Grisales.
“We see this as hate speech. We found out today that Princeton doesn’t recognize disability hate speech. It has policies in terms of hate speech in terms of black people, it has hate speech in terms of lesbian and gay people,” said Not Dead Yet member Alan Holdsworth.
Princeton declined to respond to the hate speech comment but issued this statement: “Princeton is strongly committed to ensuring the academic freedom of members of its community and to ensuring that the campus is open to a wide variety of views.”
Protesters took four demands to a Princeton dean — including that the ivy league school hire someone to counter what Singer teaches — but they describe the meeting as unproductive.
Singer is on a European book tour and did not respond to a request for an interview.