Beyond the ‘rehearsed response’

I begin my talks to students and faculty eager to dissect my [liberal] heresy with a quote from the second edition of a standard medical textbook, The Unborn Patient: Prenatal Diagnosis and Treatment, published by W.B. Saunders Company, a division of Harcourt Brace, in 1991. The editors – all medical school professors at the University of California at San Francisco and experts in fetal treatment – are Michael Harrison, Mitchell Golbus, and Roy Filly.

God is nowhere mentioned in the textbook. The first chapter begins: ”The concept that the fetus is a patient, an individual whose maladies are a proper subject for medical treatment as well as scientific observation, is alarmingly modern. Only now are we beginning to consider the fetus seriously – medically, legally, and ethically.”

In recent years I’ve interviewed a number of physicians engaged in research on prenatal development. Without exception, they emphasize that human life is a continuum – from the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterine lining to birth to death. Setting up divisions of this process to justify abortion – as in Roe v. Wade – is artificial. It’s a denial of biology. Whether in the fourth or 14th week, it is the life of a developing human being that is being killed. The American Medical News (June 20, 1994) – a weekly publication of the American Medical Association – has reported an analysis of the beginnings of human life by Dr. C. Ward Kischer, a professor in the department of anatomy at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. I commend it . . .:

”Every point in time is part of a continuum. Therefore, every point in development derives its significance from the previous point. Scientific ‘spin doctors’ have invented and promoted such bogus biology as ‘pre-embryo’ and ‘stages of individuality,’ and have duped many physicians who know little about human embryology. Many of them are now using this pseudo-science to justify human embryo experimentation. The Nuremberg trials settled this question conclusively.’’

– from The Village Voice, January 30, 1996

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