Unless a family has experienced the birth of an "abnormal" child, it is hard to imagine how painful and stressful that situation can be. The natural reactions to that stress and pain take many forms. Perhaps the most natural and most common response is to turn to the medical profession with the cry of "Make our baby whole!"
Recent articles and letters about anencephalic infants do not and perhaps cannot deal with this pain, or with the response it evokes in the medical establishment. What is missing, in my opinion, are the questions not being asked. Questions like: How many "normal" mothers giving birth to "normal" children are not receiving any medical attention at all? Specifically, in the United States, in the year 1988, how many mothers and how many children are receiving neither adequate nutrition nor adequate pre- and postnatal care?
To the degree that this question is asked, much less answered, the answer seems to be that if one pediatric heart surgeon did one less heart transplant, be it human or baboon, not one dollar more would go to medical services for those not presently being cared for. And, to my mind, this is the real bread-and-butter ethical issue that we as a democratic republic need to ask ourselves: Why do we, the most wealthy and by our own self-perception the most enlightened nation in the world, perhaps in all of history, choose to ignore the health needs of millions of mothers and children? Why do we lag behind so many other nations?