The dilemma of how and whether defective newborns are treated is hardly new; Plato and Aristotle both addressed the subject. But the moral questions about treatment are continually being recast by advances in medical knowledge and technology. Since neonatology is such a new field, there is often more than one way to proceed, even in such relatively noncontroversial areas as prescribing medications. And with such tiny, voiceless patients, the uncertainty of medical prognosis is acutely felt.
In "Life and Death in the Nursery", Anita Diamant, the New York Times best-selling author of The Red Tent and The Boston Girl, tells the powerful, heartbreaking story of Carol and Phil Powers, whose son Whit was born with a life-threatening congenital disorder, and the doctors and nurses who try to save him and thousands of newborns every year. As right-to-life fervor swept the country in the wake of the 1982 Baby Doe case, Diamant takes listeners inside Boston's Children Hospital at the height of the debate over infant care.
"Life and Death in the Nursery" was originally published in New England Monthly, July 1985.