Fetal surgery gives the lie to 'clump of cells' talking point
The Daily Signal has an in-depth article today on doctors' controversial efforts to perform successful surgeries on babies. Of course, no one would ever find such a story controversial if it didn't center on babies who have not been born yet.
The Signal piece profiles Drs. Michael Harrison and Scott Adzick, two pioneers in the field of fetal surgery who set about "upending science as the world knew it" in the early '80s.
“The idea arose from the frustration of caring for babies after birth and realizing it was too late: the damage was already done,” said Adzick, chief of surgery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “We had to get to the baby earlier, while still inside mom.”
The two men studied at Massachusetts General Hospital 10 years apart – Harrison before Adzick – sharing an ambition to help children.
“It was a very controversial concept, to do something before birth,” Adzick said. “Most of the response [from people] was one of being flabbergasted. … With time, applying things cautiously clinically in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and with a lot of failure, we got better and better and better. And now it’s sort of an established field.”
The first open fetal surgery – to correct a dangerously advanced urinary tract infection – was performed in 1981. Over thirty years ago, Harrison and Adzick, at least, knew that they were not operating on some non-sentient clump of cells. These are babies, with the sort of medical problems that affect the rest of us, needing care as we all do.
Yet pro-abortion activists and groups still get away with the canard that babies "become human" only once they're born. Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards claimed that her own children were not alive until she delivered them – both from the womb and, presumably, from a gruesome death, thank goodness. NARAL rails that "a zygote is not a baby." RH Reality check takes great semantic pains to obfuscate the issue.
On the other hand, late-term abortion mills like Southwestern Women's Options in New Mexico make a mawkish fetish out of killing women's children well into the third trimester – even offering post-abortive mothers their babies' footprints and other memorabilia – partly on the justification that a troubling prenatal diagnosis justifies death for the innocent child. And in 2013, pro-abortion Democrats in a congressional hearing flaunted a woman misled into thinking that death was the best option for her baby for the sake of opposing a bill intended to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks' gestation.
Southwestern Women's Options refers to "loved pregnancies," presumably not to be confused with unloved ones. The term is revealing. Since there is no coherent argument to support the idea that the organism in a woman's womb – definitively meeting the criteria for life, and bearing human DNA unique from his mother's – is not a human being, abortion-boosters must resort to scientifically illiterate relativistic nonsense about feelings.
MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry (of "your children belong to the collective" fame) spelled it out: "When does life begin? I submit the answer depends an awful lot on the feelings of parents." This is not just the ranting of a little-watched network personality; the same absurd reasoning colors Roe v. Wade, which with Doe v. Bolton gave us one million babies killed every year in the United States. "We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins."
So what makes us human is not our innate characteristics, but rather how those with power over us feel about us at any given time.
The majority in Roe went on to write, "When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer." It appears that Dr. Michael Harrison, who called the babies he operated on a mere eight years after Roe "unborn patients," was comfortable speculating. And it should be clear to anyone with a moral compass that even if there were ambiguity on the definition of human life (there isn't), a virtuous nation would err on the side of saving the innocent. Harrison and Adzick did, and innumerable people are alive today because of their good sense and sound morality.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are putative ethicists making the case for "postnatal abortions" – that is, that it's ethical to kill children even after they are born. Planned Parenthood, which receives 45% of its billion-dollar budget from taxpayers, falls in this camp.
With which camp should America be throwing in its lot?
Drew Belsky is American Thinker's deputy editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter @DJB627.