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When I was a fetus, I loved dill pickle ice cream

The Province




Sunday, January 22, 2006




When I was a fetus, I loved dill pickle ice cream


Dr. Dave Hepburn




I recently attended a conference of the Canadian Physicians for Life because... well I'm Canadian, I enjoy Life and I play a Physician on Thursdays between 9 and 11.




I was impressed with the dignity, concern and thoughtfulness that was evident at the conference, at least prior to my arrival.


For some doctors the issue of abortion is simple. Their response to this ethical dilemma is to send every girl who believes she wants an abortion to the local abortionist and let them work it out. Easy case. Others wrestle with each case individually and set up a counseling process. Others still are uncomfortable being involved in the abortion process for any reason other than the most dire. It is in that latter pool that I have come to swim and possibly drown. 


Given the back and forth from assorted lobby groups it may be difficult to develop an informed opinion on this sensitive issue but, given the unexpectedness with which your opinion may be required, it is important that you form your own opinion, and that it be exactly the same as mine.


Q: Shouldn't, as Morgentaler says, every child be a wanted child?


A: Every child is wanted. Every pregnancy is not. Thousands of couples spend thousands of dollars to adopt thousands of children from
East Yaopingyanski. Doctors constantly receive requests from those who would love the opportunity to raise a child. Every child is wanted... by someone.


Q: What about a woman's right to do with her body as she pleases?


A: It is against the law for a woman to sell her body or do certain things to or with it. But a growing fetus is, in fact, not her body. It has its own distinct DNA, it has its own genomic character. An appendix or a toenail is part of our body but a fetus is a distinct society. My mother likes rutabaga and tofu but as a young fetus (don't we all miss those halcyon days) I rejected that stuff being rammed through my bellybutton and made it known I needed dill pickle ice cream and peanut buster parfaits with ketchup. We were and are different, genomically and gastronomically speaking.


Q. But a fetus is not a fully developed human being.


A. Fetus is from the Latin for "young child." After 12 weeks nothing new develops in a fetus, it has everything in place. From there it simply matures. Two year olds are no less human than the more developed five year olds. They are just meaner. 


Q: But being pregnant can be an inconvenience that causes stretch marks and personally I just spent thousands for implants so it isn't a good time for me to... 


A. Listen Q, I remember you before implants, when you were just a little q. You were OK, er... ok. But yes, this is among the many reasons we hear why a woman wants an abortion.


Q. What is a partial birth abortion? Is this for real?


A. I would suggest that if you want to know how you really feel about abortion, go to any website that describes partial birth abortion. If that doesn't put goosebumps on your goosebumps then nothing in this column will make any difference to you.


As many doctors wrestle with our stewardship to the expectant mother I can't help but be concerned with the lack of concern for the unborn child that has too often turned an ethical decision into a mere gynecological inconvenience. What's the answer? I don't know but I suspect it must involve dill pickle ice cream.




Dr. Dave is a B.C. physician and guest speaker whose column apears weekly in Unwind. E-mail him questions at



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