Human Rights

Doctor on prenatal surgery: If the baby is a patient, then he’s also a person

prenatal surgery

In a recent video linked on Facebook, Dr. William Lile, an OB/GYN in Florida, speaks about how children in the womb are distinct human beings from their mothers, and also how they should be viewed as persons because they can receive prenatal medical treatment.

In the video below, Lile says that “the mom is a patient, and the baby is a patient.” The mother’s body, he says, doesn’t see the baby’s body as just another one of her organs — which is so often the implication of pro-abortion slogans such as ‘my body, my choice’ — but as a “foreign entity.” Sometimes, he adds, the mother’s body even makes antibodies against the baby. In cases like this, antibodies cross the placenta and begin to attack the baby, and the child’s blood count may become low enough that a blood transfusion is necessary… in-utero. It can be done “as early as 19 weeks,” says Lile, and can be done every four weeks to continue to ensure the health of the baby, because the baby is viewed as a separate patient.

READ: Surgery in the womb further proves the humanity of preborn children

Lile notes that some hospitals are finding heart defects using ultrasound at around 13 weeks gestation and are performing prenatal surgery for things like left hypoplastic heart syndrome, in which the baby’s heart fails to pump enough blood from the left side of heart. Doctors can do this kind of surgery as early as 21 weeks gestation using ultrasound guidance, says Lile. A catheter is guided through the wall of the uterus and into the baby’s heart. For some conditions, stents can even be added, which will remain in place until after birth.

Lile mentions the fact that corrective spina bifida surgeries can be done as early as 21 weeks in the womb, and these babies usually have better outcomes than those who have surgery after birth. In other conditions affecting the placenta, laser surgery can even be done to save babies when placental blood vessels aren’t functioning properly.

Lile notes that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists talks about “informed consent… the risks, benefits, alternatives…” and says we need to treat the patient as a person.”Well, when is a baby in the womb a patient? I would say that if we’re doing heart surgery… spinal surgery, placental surgery, blood transfusions… doing so many interventions… that I think clearly they’re a patient,” Lile says. “And if they’re clearly a patient, then they’re clearly a person.”

Lile notes that though the Supreme Court decided in Roe v. Wade that the preborn baby isn’t a person with rights, the very existence of prenatal surgery clearly shows that these babies are patients and, therefore, persons.

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