Well, I’ve studied bioethics, have access to the paper, and can give a short summary.
The paper follows a common line of argument for abortion, but makes the additional claim that after-birth abortion should be permitted if demanded by the mother/parents. This signifies a departure from what I believe is the majority view in bioethics, and relies on a difference in value-judgments.
The authors takes a personhood approach to abortion, which says that beings, be they human or otherwise, have value just in case they have some relevant properties. Much can be said about the details of a view like this, but the authors have not chosen to focus on that in this paper. However, they give a short description: “We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.“ They also add that since a newborn is capable of experiencing pain, and pain is undesired, the newborn is entitled not to experience pain.
Anyway, since a fetus is not a person able to value anything herself, or have goals for the future, nothing is deprived by taking her life (losing her life doesn’t represent a loss to her since she doesn’t have the capacity to experience loss). Furthermore, given that the fetus is not a person, it lacks independent value, and the only kind of value that may remain is the value conferred by others.
Now, if nothing happens developmentally at birth to change the personhood-status of the human being, the newborn lacks independent value just like the fetus. I believe this is somewhat a departure from the most common views, although it is still fairly well supported. In any case, given the above, we can now see that the only change in the value of the human being after birth can be in the kind of value that is conferred by others. It must be some states of affairs that changes that situation.
Here, I believe, it is quite popular to say that since the woman is free of the fetus, and since people other than the mother have interests in the life of the child, those interests trumps the mothers interests such that the child should be offered up for adoption. The authors reject this and thinks that the mother shouldn’t be forced into adoption, although it should still be considered a valid option. They offer two points in support:
- Psychological distress to the birthmother who gives away the newborn. They cite a study to support this claim.
- Even though it’s true that the birthmother might be equally, or even more, distressed by after-birth abortion, we cannot assume that one is worse than the other. They cite a second study to support this claim (presumably showing that adoption can cause more distress than abortion for some women).
So the authors are essentially saying that the mother’s interests - that is her psychological health - trumps the interests of other people as it relates to the life of her newborn.
In conclusion, the paper says that the mother should have the option of after-birth abortion in a limited window after birth. They do not specify the length of that window, but refers to the assessment of neurologists and psychologists.