Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How to save a life

Please watch this video. (It contains illustratively clear but non-graphic images of an in utero surgery.)

This is an amazing example of a daring, new (only about 100 performed in the four years since its development), life-saving procedure. I make a point of the fact that it is life-saving for a very good reason: something struck me when I saw this story that is not perhaps the most obvious aspect of the procedure. Little Anders Wiley was only 22 weeks old when his heart defect was detected and the operation was performed. His father said,

Well, we had some hard decisions to make—whether or not we wanted to terminate the pregnancy, which we could have done, or just ride it out and see what developed. (CBS News)
He could have still been legally aborted. In fact, nearly 2% of abortions in the United States are performed at 22 weeks or later (—that's about 8541 abortions at Anders's age every year (Wikipedia). These abortions are legally justified by fetal defects (Wikipedia). Clearly, then, those who are pro-choice would say that Anders at this point was just cells, tissues, and organs; not a person, or a life. After all, taking a life is illegal; and abortion is legal.

How hypocritical it is, then, to turn around and say that this surgery has saved (or at least preserved) a life! How hypocritical, even, it is to say that Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome is potentially deadly—what, I ask, would die? I cannot imagine the deception and amorality required to hold both concepts in one's mind. In the same breath, Anders is called a life who has been saved and a fetus that may be aborted. Let's be honest: he cannot be both. Either medical science has just saved a life, or prolonged a parasite. You decide.

(Side note: I'll be leading a study this summer at Tech using Stand to Reason's Making Abortion Unthinkable: the Art of Pro-Life Persuasion. If you're a Tech student interested in the subject, or just want to learn how to more effectively communicate on the issue, I invite you to join us. E-mail me and I'll get you the info as summer approaches.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is hypocritical only in the words used.

When they say his life was saved, they mean the potential for his life. If they failed at the procedure, they would have said the baby died. But what they really mean is that there will be no chance for life.

-I go to Georgia Tech and am your friend on Facebook. Who am I?......

12:26 PM, April 12, 2007  
Blogger Jeffrey J. Stables said...

So the contradiction is only in terminology? I find it hard to believe that modern medicine would be exercised to allow a non-person to become a person—persons can only be saved by medicine, not created. The baby's personhood must have come from something other than this procedure, or even his birth.

I think it is a flimsy morality, indeed, that considers a baby a life to be saved only when the human desire is there for him to be saved. He would have been considered a conglomeration of tissues to be disposed of if his parents' desire was not to let him live. How can an ethic of life be consistent if it depends upon the whim of one's desire to define another as human or not?

1:48 AM, April 13, 2007  

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