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Two Jeromes (one exalted) and a physician’s duty to care for his patient

by | Dec 27, 2018

By Jean Garton

Editor’s note. The late Jean Garton is best known to pro-lifers for her masterful and early pro-life classic, “Who Broke the Baby?” Over the years she contributed many, many stories to National Right to Life News. When we lost her two years ago, it left a huge void.

I made myself a promise then that I would periodically repost one of the stories my dear friend wrote for us. In so doing it would remind pro-lifers, especially younger ones, that we stand on the shoulders of giants.


In my whole life I have only known two people named “Jerome.” Actually, I really didn’t know either one of them. The first “Jerome” was an eighth grader when I was in my NYC public school. I had a big crush on him, but he didn’t even know I existed.

The second “Jerome” was a doctor of Medicine with Ph.D.s in both Science and Philosophy. He was a Frenchman named Jerome Lejeune.

For years Dr. Lejeune was a Professor of Genetics at the University of Paris, and he had received the world’s highest award in genetics. Although he had been honored by numerous countries, he is best known for finding the chromosome that causes Down’s syndrome. He was seeking its cure when he died in 1994.

He was a man of great wisdom. Physicians, he once said, who view their patients as just a higher form of animals are “dangerous.” And while a veterinarian has the right to kill a race horse with a broken leg, “the doctor has the duty to take care of the jockey.”

When people argued for abortion by saying that “we can’t talk about individual life because life is a continuum, ” Dr. Lejeune would ask them their age. Not one of them ever told him that they “were millions of years old.” “Life continues, it is true,” said Lejeune, “but individuals do begin.”

Lejeune suggested that Tom Thumb really does exist in the unborn child.” At two months of age in the womb,” he argued, “the child is less than a thumb’s length from head to rump, but his fingerprints–his national identity card–are detectable.”

Dr. Lejeune believed that scientists ought use a simple rule to decide if certain research would benefit society. “There is only one guideline by which to judge everything,” he said. ‘What you have done to the smallest of my brethren you have done to me.'”

The name “Jerome” means “exalted.” It surely fits Jerome Lejeune, the world is poorer and less safe for unborn children for having him gone.

Categories: Pro-Lifers