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Calvo-Sotelo, J.C. (1988). Babies as Guinea Pigs. Brit. J. Psychother., 4(4):456-457.

(1988). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 4(4):456-457

Babies as Guinea Pigs

Juan Campos Calvo-Sotelo

As an independent psychologist and psychotherapist partly trained in London I am not totally unfamiliar with the opinions of some of the contributors to your Journal and would like to raise the issue of the ethics of abortion following on the very comprehensive review of research on the cognitive skills of newborn and unborn babies by D Chamberlain (Vol. 4 (1), pp. 30-71).

It was this kind of evidence plus my own pleasure and interest in living with babies which led me to conclude that the popular and ‘scientific’ (Psychoanalytic, Paediatric, Behaviourist, Piagetian) perception of babies seriously impoverished and degraded them and led to harmful advice on child-rearing. Further, this re-humanisation of babies extends back into the life of the unborn (Laing, Leboyer, Janov, Lake, Liedloff etc) and forced me to revise my ‘liberal’ and ‘feminist’ position on abortion. Others, like Dr N Nathanson, a pioneer of legal abortion in the States, had followed the same logic before me. Yet, my personal experience is that most young psychotherapists adopt the usual ‘liberal’ line on abortion which is often based on the view of the foetus as a mere ‘lump of jelly’, an ‘appendix’ of the mother's body and therefore deprived of any right to a separate personhood. Writers like Vermy and Laing, who are well aware of the continuity and humanity of life before and after birth, tend to adopt an ostrichlike position when it comes to abortion for fear, I guess, of appearing ‘conservative’, ‘intolerant’ or ‘anti-feminist’.

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