Several years ago, I was consulted by a young woman who was 33 weeks pregnant and was on her way to Kansas to get an abortion. I informed her of the multiple options available to her outside of abortion, and she decided to go through with the pregnancy even though the child had hydrocephalus and would require neurosurgical intervention a few weeks after birth. She kept the baby and loves the beautiful child that has resulted.
A couple of decades ago, I came into the pediatric intensive care unit on morning rounds and was told about a 4-year-old girl who had been hit by an ice-cream truck and was comatose and exhibiting little neurological function other than reactive pupils. I tested her pupillary reflexes, and both pupils were fixed and dilated. The staff indicated to me that this was something that must have just occurred. I grabbed the bed and, with some help, transported her quickly to the operating room for an emergency craniotomy. I was met along the way by a senior neurosurgeon who told me I was wasting my time and that, at best, we would end up with someone in a vegetative state.
Nevertheless, we completed the operation, and a few days later, her pupils became reactive, and she eventually left the hospital. I saw her a few years ago walking through the hospital with her own 4-year-old little girl. She was neurologically fully intact and told me she had become somewhat of a celebrity because of the experience I just related.
What do these two stories have in common? They both involve precious lives that easily could have been discarded.
My entire professional life has been devoted to saving and enhancing lives. Thus, the thought of abortion for the sake of convenience does not appeal to me. I personally have met several people who told me their mothers had considered abortion but happily decided against it.
Most of us instinctively want to protect helpless creatures and sometimes go to great lengths to do so. The television commercials about abused animals are poignant, and as a society, we sometimes delay or cancel large construction projects to protect an "endangered" insect, amphibian or fish. Yet many of us turn a blind eye to the wanton slaughter of millions of helpless human babies, who are much more sophisticated than some of the other creatures, when nothing is at stake other than the convenience of one or both parents. I am not saying we should abandon our efforts to save baby seals and a host of other animals.
I am saying: Shouldn't we consider adding human fetuses and babies to the list?