25 November, 2010

An except from 1972 CBC series 'Man Alive' that deals with the question of when a 'fetus' becomes a 'person'

At what point is a baby considered to be a living human, and not a fetus? What is the "viability" age, meaning the point when an infant can survive outside the womb? And what are the philosophical and moral implications of the answers to these questions? In this excerpt from a 1972 episode of Man Alive, Canadian pediatric specialist Robert Usher ponders these issues, illustrating his points by showing a fragile premature two-pound baby who was born at 26 weeks gestation. 

I wish to add that my brothers Michael and James were each just over 1.2 lbs each when they were born as identical twins at 23 weeks of gestation. Even though Mike is 18 months older than I am, we arrived home from hospital a few scant months apart as he faced many major health crises, crises that his twin did not survive and which kept Mike in hospital for the first year of his life. 

I also point out that at the time, there were dire predictions about his long term capacities. My parents were told he would be 'retarded' intellectually and physically and would most certainly never be able to live independently or produce progeny of his own... all of which proved to be false. His two college diploma's and two daughters stand as stark and joyful evidence of error of the doctors prognostications.

Check it out here!

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