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Knowing what we know.

I found amusing one quoted portion of the August 1 story on Judicial Luncheon keynote speaker Linda Greenhouse.

Ms. Greenhouse was a New York Times columnist for three decades, so I found it comment-worthy that in a speech highlighting instances where judges "did not know what they thought they knew," Greenhouse seems to have suffered the same fate.

According to the article, Greenhouse believes that Justice O'Connor's dissent in Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, Inc., was a broadside attack on Roe v. Wade. Making the point that judges sometimes rely on life experience to reach their conclusions, she commented that Justice O'Connor was corrected by the medical community for her seemingly incorrect "reasonable belief" that fetal viability in the first trimester could be possible given technological advances. Taken from a brief filed by the AMA and others in a subsequent case, Greenhouse quoted, "even with mechanically assisted respiration, survival before about 24 weeks of pregnancy is impossible ... improvements are not expected in the foreseeable future."

While it might be better to listen to the experts than rely on life experience, on this issue I believe Justice O'Connor's life experience actually won out. As a seasoned journalist giving a speech in Florida, Greenhouse should have known and included that, in 2007, the world's youngest baby was born in Florida at just 21 weeks gestation, weighing only 10 ounces. While 21 weeks is not the first trimester, life experience has shown that it is certainly reasonable to believe that advanced care through expert physicians, nurses, and technology continues to make the impossible possible as the point of viability is moved further back toward conception.

Tamu Fourie

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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Fourie, Tamu
Publication:Florida Bar News
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Sep 1, 2011
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