baby doe

a novel

h. william taeusch

"The complex issues concerning the right to life are explored with heartbreaking precision in Baby Doe. The ethical versus emotional rights of parents to deny life-saving surgery for a severely compromised newborn is beautifully rendered as agonizing choices are made. Taeusch has written a thoughtful, engrossing read."

--Gail Tsukiyama, author of The Color of Air and The Samurai's Garden.


“A newborn is tragically impaired. In a taut, dramatic tale, Dr.Taeusch skillfully marshals his expert knowledge of the modern, miraculous world of neonatology to explore classic questions defining human responsibility in choosing life or death.”

--Allen Hoffman, author of Kagan’s Superfecta and The Small Worlds series.  


“An unsparing look at what happens when emotion, ethics, and, above all, medical fallibility converge to determine a fragile newborn’s fate. Taeusch writes with the authority of an insider deeply knowledgeable in matters both clinical and of the heart.”

--Joan Leegant, author of Wherever You Go and An Hour in Paradise.
 

 

It’s 1984 and assistant professor Sophia Shulder’s scientific career is on the fast track—until she finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. The day after she gives birth, she and her husband Martin are shocked to learn that their baby has serious internal deformities and Down syndrome. Risky surgery is urgently needed to save their baby’s life. Under pressure to give consent, Sophia is not sure whether the surgery is best for her baby, or for herself. Doctors, nurses, administrators, lawyers, clergy, activists, and politicians all have an opinion on what should happen. The hospital, threatened by the Reagan administration's new "Baby Doe" laws, launches legal proceedings to take custody of the baby away from the Shulders. 

                                                                                          

Is a severely disabled baby’s death ever preferable to life? Who should have the right to decide?


H. William Taeusch is a professor emeritus of pediatrics at the University of California-San Francisco. For more than thirty years, he’s worked in NICU’s in Montreal, Boston, and Los Angeles. His short stories have appeared in Manhattan Literary Review, Southern Indiana Review, Gold Man Review, and elsewhere.

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