Still more Christian urban legends
A case of a non-sentient fetus
|Michael Clancy, the photographer from Nashville, TN, wrote these moving words on his web site:|
"During a spina bifida corrective procedure at twenty-one weeks in utero, Samuel thrusts his tiny hand out of the surgical opening of his mother's uterus. As the doctor lifts his hand, Samuel reacts to the touch and squeezes the doctor's finger. As if testing for strength, the doctor shakes the tiny fist. Samuel held firm. At that moment, I took this 'Fetal Hand Grasp' photo." 5
|Referring to the photograph, Brad Clanton, counsel for the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, said|
"It unambiguously illustrates the humanity of an unborn child at approximately the same stage of pregnancy as most infants who are killed by partial-birth abortion...No reasonable person could look at the picture and deny that there is a tiny member of the human race, with an arm, a hand, fingers and a sense of touch."
|James Dobson, founder and head of the Fundamentalist
Christian organization Focus on the Family edited a story about
the photograph that he picked up from the Internet. It said, in part:
"What you are witnessing should be designated ‘Picture of the Year,’ or, perhaps, ‘The Picture of the Decade.’ It won’t be. Most people will never get an opportunity to see it."
|The Presbyterians Pro-Life web site commented: "The fetus and Dr. Bruner are 'holding hands.' " 2|
|Almost four years later, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council issued a newsletter stating that "As the surgery finished, almost as if to wave good-bye to the doctors, little Samuel reached his tiny hand through the opening in the womb."|
These are very emotionally moving stories. However, they contain some inaccuracies:
|The fetus' hand did not wrap "itself around the finger of the surgeon." The fetus was not "grasping the hand of his physician." It had no "sense of touch" at that time of gestation. Another five weeks gestation would be required before the higher functions of the fetal brain become active. Until the fetus reaches the 26 weeks from conception, it has no consciousness. It cannot think. It cannot sense its environment. It cannot feel. Rather, according to the doctor, he saw the hand "sort of pop up in the incision." The fetus did not reach "his tiny hand through the opening in the womb." The surgeon actually "reached over and picked it up." According to the doctor, "The baby did not reach out. The baby was anesthetized. The baby was not aware of what was going on."|
|The photograph has not been hidden. It has been widely publicized. It has been featured in USA Today, and is seen on many web sites, including Presbyterians Pro-Life, the Focus on the Family web site, etc. It has been very widely circulated privately. This author received many copies via Email.|
|This photograph is not at all typical of fetuses who are aborted. It
was 21 weeks (almost 5 months) old when the photo was taken. 90% of all abortions are done
during the first three months of pregnancy -- the first trimester; 10% during the
fourth to sixth months of pregnancy -- the second trimester. Fewer than
5% are done at the age of this fetus. Almost all abortions at this stage of
pregnancy are done because of severe genetic disorders in the fetus, or
because some health problem has surfaced that threatens the health or life
of the woman. About 0.2% of pregnancies are
terminated at this state of fetal development through a D&X
procedure (called Partial Birth Abortion by
many pro-life groups). But they are generally done in cases where:|
The fetus is now a baby named Samuel. He was delivered on 1999-DEC-2 and has been passing his normal milestones successfully.
The television program House, MD first shown on 2007-APR-03 was titled "Fetal Position." It involved a pregnant photographer who was suffering from mirror syndrome -- a rare disorder in which the fetus is threatening the life of its mother. In the program, Gregory House, MD, played by Hugh Laurie, heads a team of young diagnosticians at the fictional Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital in New Jersey. The role of Lisa Cuddy, Dean of Medicine, is played by Lisa Edelstein. 6 Tension is created by Lisa's desire to save the life of the fetus while House advocates that an abortion be performed.
In an effort to save both lives, House performed an operation in-utero. A fetal hand is observed reaching out from within the uterus and grabbing one of House's fingers. House then runs his thumb gently along the fetus' fingers. After the operation, which is successful, House for the first time refers to the fetus as a baby rather than a fetus.
The first draft of the screen-play was reported as:
House: "Haven't you ever vacuumed up a flooded basement? Gimme"
House takes the suction device and carefully drains the amniotic fluid into a warm, sterile container for use later. Suddenly... THE FETUS' TINY HAND REACHES OUT OF THE WOMB And grasps one of House's fingers. He freezes, astonished; unexpectedly swept up in the enormity of the moment.
Cuddy: "Affix the pulse-ox to the palm."
House is frozen.
Cuddy: "House-- "
House suddenly snaps back into reality.
House: (covering) "Sorry; just realized I forgot to TiVo 'Project Runway'." 7
In the version that was broadcast, the flooded basement became a beer keg.
The fetus was diagnosed as a male at 21 weeks gestation -- the same sex and age as for the spinal-bifida fetus. House performed the operation about five weeks before its higher brain functions would have first turned on. Thus, the fictional fetus would be devoid of consciousness, and without any ability to sense its environment, feel pain, make any kind of intentional movement, etc.
It could not happen in real life; but it makes for a spectacular show!
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Copyright © 1999 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on
Creation date: mid-=2000
Last update: 2007-APR-04
Author: B.A. Robinson
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