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Protests Against Princeton Prof.

April 18, 1999

PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) _ More than 100 protesters denounced Princeton University on Saturday for hiring a philosopher whose controversial views include allowing parents to end the lives of their severely disabled infants.

``Nazi Germany did the same thing to the disabled, judging their lives not worth living. We object to that,″ said John Scaturro, 49, who protested near the Ivy League school along with his wife and young daughter.

University officials stood by the appointment of Peter Singer, a professor whose academic work they say will contribute to scholarship and ethics debates at Princeton.

Singer, a professor at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, was appointed last year to the Ira W. DeCamp Professorship of Bioethics at the university’s Center for Human Values. He is to begin work in July.

The 52-year-old academic is widely considered the father of the international animal rights movement, and has argued parents should have the right to euthanize newborn children who have severe handicaps.

In his books, Singer has said that children less than one month old have no human consciousness and do not have the same rights as others.

``Killing a defective infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person,″ he wrote in one book. ``Sometimes it is not wrong at all.″

His appointment at Princeton has drawn fierce opposition from anti-abortion groups, the disabled and others.

Daniel Robert, 51, who uses a wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis, protested while wearing a black T-shirt that said ``Not Dead Yet.″

``I don’t want people killing babies like me or adults like me,″ Robert said. ``We’re just as proud to be alive as anyone else. And we have that right.″

Many protesters said Singer’s hiring gives inappropriate legitimacy to his views.

Princeton spokesman Justin Harmon defended Singer’s hiring and suggested that some of his harshest critics have not read his books.

``According to the experts in the field, he is the one of the strongest bioethicists out there,″ Harmon said. ``He’s been hired because of the strength of his teaching and his research, not because of any particular point of view he holds for or against any issue.″

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