Fetus in fetu and the abortion debate

First a disclaimer - I almost never venture into this forum, and have never posted here. So if this has been discussed already I’m sorry, but a search turned up nothing.

I watched a show last night on Discovery about fetus in fetu…basically a baby within a baby (or fetus within a fetus). Apparently at some point early in pregnancy a pair of twins fuses or something and one fetus actually wraps itself around the other. Then both develop, the outside one more or less normally, the inside one catastrophically impaired, like lacking a brain and heart and other internal structures. The inner one lives parasitically off of its sibling, through a rudimentary umbilical cord. Once the outer baby is delivered, the inner one can be removed surgically.

On the show, they showed a videotape of an ultrasound where the fetus in fetu was moving around, and in fact a surgeon just about to operate to remove it said he could feel it through it’s siblings abdomen. Once removed, or blood supply is cut off from the umbilical cord, the fetus in fetu will die. But if allowed to remain in place it will continue to be living flesh, and the show in fact had a section about a boy who was 7 and only then having his fetus in fetu removed.

So all this got me thinking: where would very strongly pro-life folks land on this topic? I know many who believe that even the most catastrophically damaged fetus should be allowed to live in utero until delivery. That deliberately interrupting a pregnancy, even with a fetus lacking any chance for hope, lacking heart, brain, lungs etc should be allowed to continue until a natural conclusion.

This fetus in fetu is essentially the same thing…so pro-lifers, is this a situation where surgery and removal of the fetus is warranted? If not why? If so, can you explain what is the difference between that and a woman who is pregnant with a very very damaged baby?


P.S. some of you may have heard of a Teratoma, a tumor with some human-like characteristics like hair, nails or teeth. This is different; the fetus in fetu at one point had the potential of becoming a full and unique human. A teratoma doesn’t.

Well, it looks like you’ve found an even rarer angle than the so-called “partial-birth abortion”. How often does the situation you describe occur, and why should such an unlikely event be used to shape policy?

No offense, but this is like taking any contentious issue, finding the most oddball situation related to the issue, and asking if it can be used as a basis for proving one side or the other completely wrong.

I think I may have seen the same special on Discovery Health.

I’m pretty rabidly pro-life, to the point where I don’t even believe in exceptions for cases of rape and incest- IMV that would amount to executing a child for the crimes of its parent(s).

But then you have things like fetus in fetu and anencephaly. In these cases, where the brain has failed to develop at all, I can’t justify forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term when the baby has absolutely no chance of surviving. And especially in the case of fetus in fetu, in which not only could the child not survive outside the womb (or its twin’s body), but actually poses a threat to the health of the twin.

Ah, that lovely feeling of being simultaneously fascinated and disgusted beyond belief. Go biology.

No brain, no heart? No chance at life? I wonder what the religious pro-life people would think about it having a soul or not… but I don’t have a problem with it.

What if it poses no threat to the healthy twin?

To be honest I’m not myself trying to use this to prove either side wrong, but I am deeply curious about why a line might or might not be drawn between a fetus in fetu and a damaged fetus. If there is a line that can be drawn I’d find it imformative to also understand the reasoning behind it.