Ideas have consequences. The Warped Outcomes of Abortion leads us to Infanticide.


At 8:19 P.M., on April 9, 1982, Dr. Walter Owens, on obstetrician, delivered a baby boy in Bloomington, Indiana – a boy that ignited a nationwide controversy. The baby, who became known as “Baby Doe,” suffered from Down’s syndrome and an obstruction in his esophagus. Dr. James Schaeffer and Dr. Paul Windsler, the parents’ family practitioners, recommended that the baby be referred to Riley Hospital for Children for lifesaving surgery to clear the blocked esophagus. The problem was serious but correctable.

Dr. Owens, whose job should have been over after delivery, told the parents that the child as a “blob” and would be severely retarded. He said that the boy only had a 50 percent chance of surviving the surgery (despite the fact that the success rate on premature babies was 88 percent at the time). Dr. Owens advised the parents to refuse consent for surgery and predicted that the boy would die from pneumonia in a few days. This prediction was a sure thing. Without the surgery, Baby Doe would eventually drown in his own secretions after experiencing severe chemical irritation from stomach acids spilling into his lungs.

By 10:00 P.M., after only a half hour of discussion, the parents of Baby Doe decided, “We don’t want the baby treated” The pediatrician, Dr. Schaeffer, asked, “Do you realize what you are doing?” The parents acknowledged that they did. Dr. Owens told them, “You have made a wise and courageous decision.”

Unable to stand by and do nothing, Dr. Schaeffer persuaded Dr. Owens to speak with a pediatric surgeon at Riley Hospital for Children. Despite the fact that the pediatric surgeon called Owens’ intentions “infanticide”, the conversation did not change Dr. Owens’ resolve. Abandoning his normal role as an obstetrician once again, Dr. Owens ordered the nurses to feed Baby Doe orally even though feeding him might cause him to choke and die. Owens also expressly prohibited intravenous feeding – which would have kept Baby Doe alive – and ordered the nurses to keep him sedated. At the time, Baby Doe did not need sedation because he was not uncomfortable. The sedation would only diminish his choking reflex and thereby speed his demise.

Wary of the legal implications, the hospital attorney requested and received a bedside hearing to determine the fate of Baby Doe. In a shocking rule, Superior Court Judge John Baker ruled that the parents had the right to choose to follow the opinion of either Owens or Schaeffer. In other words, the parents could choose the boy’s death!

On Sunday, two days after the birth, the nurses revolted against the instructions of Dr. Owens because those instructions clearly violated medical ethics. As a result, Baby Doe was transferred to a private room where private nurses gave him further injections of morphine and phenobarbital.

By Monday, Baby Doe was weak, parched, and spitting blood. Further legal action, including an appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court, failed to stop the madness. Meanwhile, several couples lined up to adopt the boy. It was becoming clear that Baby Doe was very much a wanted child despite what his parents thought.

On Thursday, April 15, with Baby Doe severely hydrated and barely clinging to life, Attorney Lawrence Brodeur flew to Washington where Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens was to hear a request to overrule the decisions of the Indiana Court. Back in Bloomington, with the hospital staff in an uproar, the chief of staff ordered Dr. Schaeffer to start an IV to give Baby Doe the fluids he needed. This resulted in an altercation between Schaeffer and Owens. But it was to no avail. Baby Doe died that night at 10:01 P. M.


While there is a lot that remains unclear about the life and death of Baby Doe, there is one thing we know for sure: The justifications used to kill Baby Doe are the same justifications used to kill babies in the womb. The logic is inescapable. Abortion leads to infanticideKilling babies we do not want before they are born leads to killing babies we do not want after they are born…

The parallel is striking. They have the same subject (a human being), the same reason (unwanted), and the same result (death). The logic demands that if tiny human beings can be killed because they are unwanted, deformed, unaffordable (or whatever) before they were born, they can be killed for the same reasons when they are older...[former Surgeon General C. Everett] Koop claims he foresaw what was coming when Roe vs. Wade was decided. He wrote:

“Physicians know [that] the actual moment of birth changes but little in the condition of the baby. If abortion is allowed a few days from birth, how is that different from killing a few days after [birth]? Abortion, I saw, was leading to infanticide…”

Adapted from pgs 180-182 of the 11th chapter, Euthanasia: Exterminating Ourselves to Death of Legislating Morality by Dr. Norman Geisler and Frank Turek (same authors of I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist).