According to the Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary: Infanticide is the killing of an infant.
Infanticide has a long history, and several cultures have routinely practiced it for several reasons including birth control, to destroy handicapped individuals seen as unfit and to kill female children because of cultural preference for males. While infanticide is currently considered a much bigger taboo than abortion in America, it still takes place today in the U.S. and in other countries around the world.
According to The Society for the Prevention of Infanticide In 1978, Laila Williamson, an anthropologist of the American Museum of Natural History, summarized the data she had collected on the prevalence of infanticide among tribal and civilized societies from a variety of sources in the scientific and historical literature. Her conclusion was startlingly blunt:
Infanticide has been practiced on every continent and by people on every level of cultural complexity, from hunters and gatherers to high civilization, including our own ancestors. Rather than being an exception, then, it has been the rule.
Most societies agree that the drive to protect and nurture one's infant is a basic human trait. Yet infanticide—the killing of an infant at the hands of a parent—has been an accepted practice for disposing of unwanted or deformed children since prehistoric times. Despite human repugnance for the act, most societies, both ancient and contemporary, have practiced infanticide. Based upon both historical and contemporary data as many as 10 to 15 percent of all babies were killed by their parents.