The Right to Life: A Closer Look

Nominal Babies   By Richard Stith   First Things magazine, February 1999
The judiciary -- and society as a whole -- is gradually coming to understand that there is no "great divide" between the born and the unborn, that birth marks no magical transition between human and non-human, life and "potential life." Is this good news for the unborn? Or does this pose a very dangerous new threat to the unwanted and the inconvenient who have escaped a sentence of death prior to birth?

Medicalizing Abortion Decisions   By Thomas Murphy Goodwin  First Things magazine, March 1996
Certain conditions that can be diagnosed in advance are associated with risk of maternal mortality greater than 20 percent: pulmonary hypertension (primary or Eisenmenger's syndrome), Marfan's syndrome with aortic root involvement, complicated coarctation of the aorta, and, possibly, peripartum cardiomyapthy with residual dysfunction. Taken altogether, abortions performed for these conditions make up a barely calculable fraction of the total abortions performed in the United States...
It should be emphasized how rare these conditions are. Our obstetric service in the Los Angeles area has been the largest in the United States for most of the last fifteen years, averaging fifteen thousand to sixteen thousand births per year. Our institution serves a catchment for all high-risk deliveries in an area with thirty thousand deliveries per year. Excluding cases that have been diagnosed late in pregnancy, we do not see more than one or two cases per year that pose this degree of risk of maternal mortality; these are exceedingly rare conditions.