THE BABY IN THE BOTTLE: A Review of the Edelin Case by

THE BABY IN THE BOTTLE: A Review of the Edelin Case

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Nolen uses the untidy case of Kenneth Edelin, the Boston doctor tried for manslaughter after performing a problematic but legal abortion in 1973, to explore the moral issues of abortion, a procedure he approves conditionally yet is unwilling to perform. Edelin's case received media attention for a variety of reasons clearly spelled out here, and ended in a guilty verdict which was subsequently reversed. To many, Edelin emerged as a hero, and he got a big career boost from the proceedings. Nolen, however, is concerned with the medical decisions and ethical issues, and he probes hospital records and court testimony before offering his judgments; he also indicates several key speculations--Edelin refused to discuss the case. Nolen thinks Edelin (and others implicated but unindicted) acted improperly, that they let a fetus with low survival odds die without medical intervention because no one wanted the baby to live. Nonetheless, he would have voted for acquittal. Nolen's name and the nature of his review may combine to attract readers, although such a multilayered case, long out of the headlines, is a less than ideal choice as springboard for discussion. But several of his proposals should receive wide support--making pregnancy test kits available at supermarkets, making abortions for fetuses older than 20 weeks hard to get--even though some of his personal opinions will be challenged.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1978
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan