Saving Some, Killing Others
In an age of prenatal medical breakthroughs—and I mean incredible breakthroughs—it’s hard to imagine how abortion can still be considered healthcare. Just a few generations ago, a baby born two months or more premature was virtually doomed. Not that long ago, fetal diseases and conditions were impossible to treat. Even something as seemingly routine as a C-section was once life-threatening for both mother and child, as was a 31-hour delivery like my wife and I experienced with our first baby. Today, the advances in prenatal medicine are simply stunning: in utero diagnostic capabilities and even surgery, quick recovery for moms, amazing neonatal intensive care units. Babies born as early as 23 weeks are routinely saved. Recently, the New York Times reported on a team of British doctors who performed that country’s first ever successful surgeries to repair the spinal cords of unborn children with spina bifida. Thirty surgeons at the University College Hospital took ninety minutes each to treat the infants with the rare condition in which the spinal cord grows outside the body. If spina bifida isn’t a death sentence for a child, then fluid accumulation in the brain and nerve damage can lead to serious impairment. Previously, doctors would attempt to correct the disorder after birth, but research shows that the earlier it’s treated, the better the outcome. And so, following the lead of doctors in Scandinavia and the United States, these British surgeons performed this life-saving surgery while babies were still in the womb. As a result, children who would otherwise not be able to walk or enjoy independence will have a fighting chance from the very start. Thank God for the incredible lengths to which we can and will rightly go to save and treat children. Thank God for the skilled minds and hands of doctors. But God save us from the ridiculous and deadly inconsistency with which we treat children in the womb. If the mothers of these same children decide they are unwanted, they could be legally killed—both in the U.K. and here in the United States. This staggering double standard is seen across prenatal medicine: not only with children with spina bifida but also with children diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb, with children in need of prenatal heart surgery, and with children in need of neonatal intensive care. It’s also seen in laws that rightly treat the killing of pregnant women as a double homicide. For example, take a recent case in New York, where a pregnant mother, in her third trimester, was involved in a car crash while driving under the influence. The baby was delivered by c-section, but then died six days later. Prosecutors charged and convicted her with second degree manslaughter. A New York appeals court, however, overturned that conviction because state law doesn’t recognize a baby as a person until the umbilical cord is cut and the baby breathes on its own. The baby was in utero during the accident but then died after birth, and therefore according to New York law, was not a person when the crime was committed. Everywhere in our society, when we see an expecting mother, we see at least two people—everywhere that is, except abortion clinics. This frustrating and deadly double standard is a powerful opportunity for us to make the case for life with friends, neighbors, family and political leaders. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate the clear monstrosity of legal abortion. The reason we pioneer cutting-edge surgeries to save babies in the womb is because of the kind of thing they are, not because of what they might become. Babies are not potentially human or partly human, but fully, unambiguously, undeniably human. This status has nothing to do with whether or not they are wanted. The idea that a fetus magically becomes human because of its mother’s choice to keep it is indefensible, pseudo-scientific nonsense. If any unborn baby is worth saving, all of them are. And deep down, we all know this. Why else would the New York Times of all publications report this amazing prenatal spina bifida surgery as a way to save “babies”? Not “fetuses,” not “clumps of cells,” not “pregnancies,” or any of the other lifeless euphemisms the abortion industry constantly peddles. “Babies!” This wasn’t a case of a Times slip up because an editor didn’t have a second cup of coffee. It was a truth we all know and acknowledge every day. We don’t congratulate pregnant women on their fetuses. We congratulate them on their babies. These British doctors didn’t treat blobs of tissue. They treated human beings. Thank God for medical breakthroughs that save little lives. But in our world, an ethical breakthrough would save even more.