New Paper Coauthored by CLI Scholars Examines Treating the Patient within the Patient

Katey Price  

Washington, D.C.—Today, the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) hailed the publication of a new paper entitled “The Perinatal Revolution,” coauthored by two CLI associate scholars, which looks at new developments in medically treating a mother’s unborn child while still in the womb.

CLI president Charles A. “Chuck” Donovan, said:

“With advanced imaging, innovative medical in utero treatments and genetic advances, these groundbreaking findings cement what we already knew: that a baby growing inside its mother’s womb deserves to be treated as a patient within the patient. I look forward to sharing this study’s findings, and the good news it represents, with the public, policymakers and the medical community to increase awareness of the increasing treatment options for the mother and her unborn child.”

The authors of the study are Drs. Colleen Malloy, Monique Chireau Wubbenhourst, and Tara Sander Lee, and the entirety of their paper may be found in the peer-reviewed journal Issues in Law and Medicine. Among the findings expanded upon in the paper, the authors note that:

  • With perinatal treatment—both non-surgical and surgical intervention—physicians can now treat cerebral palsy, fetal hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, thereby preventing long-term medical problems, and can also mitigate complications from conditions like spina bifida and cystic fibrosis.
  • The rapid development of perinatal hospice programs demonstrates the value in allowing parents to be parents and care for their children, if even for just a short time.
  • A physician’s personal views on both termination of pregnancy and the role of fetal medical treatment may directly impact whether a mother terminates a pregnancy or proceeds with treatment. In several studies of families receiving diagnoses of Trisomy 13 or 18, a majority of parents (61%) felt pressured to terminate the pregnancy.

 

Selected quotes from the paper appear below:

“With the ability to see the fetus in real time came the ability to diagnose problems and to consider how best to help the affected fetus, to follow affected fetuses and to monitor treated fetuses, over the course of pregnancy. This shifted the focus from the newborn, with a severe disorder that could not be corrected after birth, to the possibility of prenatal medical or surgical intervention that could help ameliorate the clinical manifestations of disease…These diagnostic capabilities led to further research and clinical trials and the realization that the fetus was, and is, a patient.”

 

“Several novel techniques are being investigated that show real promise of augmenting fetal repair, serving as alternatives for specific prenatal conditions, and even expanding the breadth of conditions treated in utero. For example, in utero cellular therapy, tissue engineering, gene-based therapies and the artificial womb are all advancing quickly and may offer tremendous benefits to the fetus in the near future. Many of these cell-based techniques take advantage of the fact that the fetal environment is constantly remodeling and ideal for accepting stem cell therapies that facilitate regeneration.”

 

“The Perinatal Revolution continues to unfold through research, engineering, genetic, medical and surgical advances that are occurring at breakneck speed. These advances do not occur in a moral vacuum, however, and ethical, regulatory and policy concerns must continue to be closely linked to clinical practice and public awareness.”

Charlotte Lozier Institute was launched in 2011 as the education and research arm of Susan B. Anthony List. CLI is a hub for research and public policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States and nations around the world. The Institute is named for a feminist physician known for her commitment to the sanctity of human life and equal career and educational opportunities for women.  The 175th anniversary of Dr. Charlotte Denman Lozier’s birth occurred on March 16, 2019.

 

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