The Biopolitics of Womb Life: Science Beats a Path To The Unborn And Stumbles Over Some Moral Dilemmas


Volume/Issue :
Volume 4
Issue 1
(09 - 1989)

Author(s) :

Verny, Thomas R.

Abstract :

Clifford Grobstein, we are told on the jacket of his book, Science &The Unborn, was at one time a laboratory scientist, teacher, medical school dean and "an analyst of biomedical policy." The reader would have been better served had he been given some more specific information about Grobstein's educational background. Was he a surgeon, an obstetrician, a psychologist, a philosopher or what? TOWARD A DEFINITION OF HUMANESS As the heat of battle rises between the Right-to-Life (anti-abortionist) and Pro-Choice (pro-abortionist) forces an ever increasing number of experts have joined the fray lending the weight of their scientific expertise to the on-going battle. Grobstein makes a valiant effort to be impartial, to determine the status of the unborn on purely scientific grounds. He wants to help society reach a clearer vision of the unborn unclouded by emotionally charged and biased arguments. His conclusions will rest on logic and the latest hi-tech techniques for the study of intrauterine life. Much of the discussion that follows is based on findings obtained through the use of this new gyne-gadgetry so a few words of explanation might be in order. Ultrasonography has rapidly replaced the more hazardous X-rays as a means of "seeing" into the womb. In this technique a small apparatus which produces high frequency sound waves is placed on a pregnant woman's abdomen and the echoes like in radar are transmitted to a TV screen. Realtime scanning allows observers, including the mother, to watch the baby's movements from the sixth week of life on.