The following comes from a Jan. 21 story by Ben S. Carson in the Washington Times.
Several years ago, I was consulted by a young woman who was 33 weeks pregnant and was on her way to Kansas 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 required neurosurgical intervention after birth a few weeks later. 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 four-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 is 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 could easily 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 have personally met several people who have told me that 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 very 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 that we should abandon our efforts to save baby seals and a host of other animals. Rather I am saying shouldn’t we consider adding human fetuses and babies to the list?
Watching the human fetus develop is awe-inspiring. In less than three months from conception, the little hands and feet are quite recognizable and distinct facial features characterize cute, but very tiny human beings. From Day One, neurons of the brain are proliferating at a rate that will yield a staggering 100 billion neurons by birth. In a matter of nine months from conception, we have a living, breathing, eating, vocal human being who just two months later is socially interactive.
Some people oppose having pregnant women view ultrasonic pictures of their developing babies because they do not want an emotional bond to develop. Careful unbiased contemplation however, might yield the conclusion that such bonding is essential to the survival of mankind. Successful farmers nourish and protect their growing crops and if conditions threaten their crops, they do what is necessary to protect them. Rather than attack the analogy, think about how much more precious a human life is than a stalk of corn….
Ben S. Carson is professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University.
To read the original story, click here.