Paul Manganiello: The mother is the best health agent for her pregnancy

This comment is from Paul Manganiello, MD, honorary professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Geisel Medical School in Dartmouth, co-medical director of the Good Neighbor Health Clinic in White River Junction and president of the GunSenseVT educational fund. He lives in Norwich.

I graduated from medical school in 1973, the same year Rowe v. Wade guaranteed women the right to abortion. With the recent draft of Judge Alito’s opinion, it is difficult to think that this right can be reversed.

The main conflict over abortion is the question of personality. At what time during a developing pregnancy should this intrauterine human organism be considered a “human being”, man?

Is the role of science to define the personality? No one denies that the fertilized egg, the zygote, is “human tissue.” It has the same DNA as an individual human skin cell, but should it be considered a “human being”? Should he be considered human? Does it deserve the same designation as a human being as a child who has just been born?

We must be clear: from a medical point of view, the embryo is not an unborn child / baby, it is an embryo; the fetus is not an unborn child / baby, it is a fetus. By definition, the embryo is a human organism during this period from conception to the eighth week after fertilization, while the fetus is a human organism that develops from the end of this eighth week. The fetus is able to exist outside the uterus from approximately the 22nd to the 24th week of gestation.

In 1979 I completed my scholarship in reproductive endocrinology. Assisted reproductive technology and in vitro fertilization were yet to become a clinical reality. Since then, there have been thousands of frozen embryos in infertility centers awaiting a decision from their potential parents about their location. If states criminalize abortion, will parents and doctors be prosecuted when the planned mother feels that their families are full and allow the embryos to thaw and die?

So the role of government is to define personality? Judge Harry Blackman, who delivered a majority in the U.S. Supreme Court in Rowe v. Wade in 1973, said: “We, the Court, do not need to decide the difficult question of when human life begins. When those trained in the relevant disciplines of medicine, philosophy and theology cannot reach a consensus, the judiciary at this point in the development of human knowledge is unable to speculate on the answer. ”

We live in a religiously pluralistic society. The Roman Catholic Church in Pope Pius XI’s 1930 marital encyclical Casti Connubii states that “life” begins at conception and that abortion is a sin against life. In the early church, St. Thomas Aquinas, a Roman Catholic theologian (1300), believed that the “acceleration”, the perception of the movement of the fetus, which occurs approximately in the fifth month, is the time when the developing fetus becomes a person. Not all religions believe this to be the case. There are Jews who believe that the fetus is not human until it takes its first breath at birth.

Our founding fathers had the foresight to incorporate into the Constitution an official division of church and state, the First Amendment of the Constitution. The government must respect the religious and spiritual beliefs of all its citizens and residents. No individual or religious institution has a monopoly on morality.

Surface pregnancy appears to represent two “competing” interests, the interests of the mother versus the interests of the developing embryo / fetus. We should not look at this situation as either / or, but rather, what is really the best interest of the couple? There may come a time when we may all have to hand over medical decisions to someone else; we may need to identify a health person to decide which health care solutions are in our best interests. We usually think of a medical agent for the elderly, but it may be necessary soon after birth or even in adolescence.

During pregnancy, the mother is the best person to consider all the consequences of making medical decisions about a pregnancy, even if it means “eliminating life support” for the fetus, which does not have the capacity to take care of its own health. . solutions.

The mother is the best person who can consider the whole context of a particular pregnancy – ie. whether a pregnancy will interrupt her education; whether the mother feels physically, financially, emotionally capable of raising a child; was she a victim of rape, incest? Whether the continuation of the pregnancy is a danger to the mother’s health; Does the fetus have an anomaly incompatible with life after birth?

State laws that restrict maternal decision-making are not life-affirming, but are in fact paternalistic, infantilizing women. and are punishable for the woman who must decide whether to terminate her pregnancy or not.

The pregnant woman and she alone is the one who is best positioned to be the health agent for her pregnancy.

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Tags: embryo, fetus, Justice Alito, Paul Manganiello, personality, pregnancy, deer against Wade, separation of church and state, mother

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