July 13, 1998

New York Magazine


Two New Jersey High School sweethearts have a baby in secret and leave it in a Delaware dumpster.






THE sex-education program at Ramapo High School—attended by students from the wealthy suburbs of Wyckoff and Franklin Lakes, in Bergen County, New Jersey—is generally considered to be “kind of a joke.” Teen parenthood is almost unheard-of here, because, as one teacher explains, “our students know they have futures. They’ve been planning their futures since preschool. The last thing they’d dream of is throwing everything away and having a baby.” As part of their senior health class, students are asked to bring in a symbolic baby and care for it for two weeks while they are in school. Many of the kids in the class of 1996 found the exercise silly, but Brian C. Peterson Jr. and his girlfriend of three years, Amy Suzanne Grossberg, liked it: They bought a Cabbage Patch doll, which they carried around, cooing to it and cradling it, pretending it was their own baby.


What no one else in school knew then was that during the spring of her senior year—at the very time they were playing this game—Amy was pregnant. In November 1996, a few months into the fall term of her freshman year at the University of Delaware, Amy gave birth to a baby whom she and Brian covertly delivered and promptly abandoned in a suburban motel Dumpster. Days later, they were indicted and arrested for first-degree murder, a death-penalty crime in Delaware, and then released on bail into the care of their parents.


In Wyckoff and its wealthier neighbor Franklin Lakes, where Amy grew up, there has been enormous sympathy for the Grossberg and the Peterson families. Once the initial furor subsided, in the minds of many townspeople, Brian and Amy quickly returned to their previous identities as the offspring of  “good families.” Many parents seem to think, as Rosalie Stanton, a Grossberg family friend, puts it, that “this could have been anyone’s kid.” Friends of the Grossbergs from the Indian Trail Country Club in Franklin Lakes even formed an “Amy Grossberg Defense Fund.” As this week’s sentencing approached, many felt, like Peterson family friend Lorraine Palmetto, that “they’ve been punished enough.”


Throughout the year, as they awaited trial, the accused teenagers didn’t let the trouble separate them. Brian still drove his shiny black Toyota Celica the short distance from his parents’ house to the condominium where Amy lived with her parents, and bought a present for her at the Bear’s Den in Wyckoff Center: a velour bunny-rabbit Beanie Baby whose silver tag is inscribed with a birth date. At court appearances, they touched each other’s hands in passing and conspicuously mouthed “I love you” across the crowded courtroom. Both Brian and Amy’s lawyers asserted again and again that they would never “turn on one another.”


But on March 9, just before the trial, Brian suddenly pleaded guilty to manslaughter in exchange for agreeing to testify against Amy. His lawyers, however, said that while Brian felt “contrition for these occurrences…never, never did he intend to harm that newborn,” and that he threw the baby away, at Amy’s instruction, because he thought it was born dead. Six weeks later, Amy followed suit. She entered the courtroom sobbing, her head bowed, her arms wrapped around the waist of her chief lawyer. Although she pleaded guilty to manslaughter, her lawyers insisted that she never knew the baby was alive and that Brian had disposed of it on his own.


On July 9, the estranged couple—who haven’t spoken since March—will both be sentenced in Delaware Superior Court for manslaughter—a charge that carries a suggested penalty of just two and a half years in jail. The harshest term they can receive is ten years; the most lenient is no jail time at all. But while the prosecution, in a surprising last-minute decision, accepted the lesser plea, its own forensic evidence—ksealed by a gag order and never before made public—suggests that Brian and Amy’s crime was less a panicked accident than a deliberate incident of first-degree murder: Moments after their infant was born, they bashed in his skull while he was still alive and then left his battered body in a Dumpster to die.


NEONATICIDE the killing of an infant within its first day—and usually its first hour—of life, is a strange subset of infanticide. Most psychiatrists consider it more a crime of “convenience” than psychosis, although the convenience of the act seems completely baffling: Why, today, in an era in which more than 1.2 million abortions are performed legally and safely every year, would a woman choose to jeopardize her own life to rid herself of an unwanted pregnancy?


There are about 250 cases of neonaticide reported each year and presumably many many more that are never discovered. Usually, the mother is young; she often has scant financial or emotional resources. Dr. Neil S. Kaye, a forensic psychiatrist and an expert on neonaticide, notes that “the typical mother in such a case remembers little of the birth, expresses no regret, and shows no signs of trauma. She never viewed the baby as a person, so she never sees the death as murder. To the extent to which she acknowledges it at all, she views the pregnancy as a growth, like a tumor. A tumor is living material—you could irradiate it, cut off its blood supply, and no one would expect you to mourn it.” Seven months after the Grossberg case, New Jersey teenager Melissa Drexler was so severely disassociated that after delivering and disposing of her newborn in the bathroom during her high-school prom, she returned to the dance floor, requested a song, and ate a salad.


The only consistency in maternal-neonaticide cases is the absence of the baby’s father at the time of the act. Dr. Kayesays that in researching 200 years of recorded history in thirteen languages, he has never found a case of two parents conspiring to kill their infant-the product of their love. “The crime of which Brian and Amy have been accused is unique in the history of the world,” he says. “It cannot be accounted for in our understanding of neonaticide. Even in literature you have mothers, such as Medea, killing their children, but there are no stories of two parents collaborating to kill their baby.”


ALTHOUGH Brian and Amy are consistently portrayed as the products of great wealth, both sets of parents are in fact fairly successful businesspeople from modest backgrounds. Amy'’ parents, Alan and Sonye Grossberg, own a furniture business, and Brian’s mother, Barbara Zuchowski, and his stepfather, John, are video wholesalers. To pay their million-dollar legal fees the parents of both children have had to mortgage their homes and deplete their life savings. “The Grossbergs weren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths,” says their friend Diane Dobrow. “They're hardworking people who’ve earned every penny. All they’ve ever wanted is to give their children a good life.


Most of the money in Bergen County is new money, made by men who rarely see the town during daylight hours but who sit at desks on Wall Street or in New Jersey corporations knowing they have purchased a life for their families in a lush, protected enclave where every property is landscaped. Although most of the houses were built in this century, they mainly mimic other period styles: fake English country cottages, Tudor mansions, medieval castles complete with miniature moats.


In Wyckoff and Franklin Lakes, people aren’t careless with their children or their money. They’re the anxious middle class: Their kids are their greatest investment, their proudest possession. Resident Patricia Wilcha recalls driving around town with a Realtor who would point to a house and say, “ ‘That's a family where their kid went to Harvard; there’s one with a daughter at Stanford.’ In our town,” Wilcha says, “people talk like your kids’ accomplishments actually increase the value of your property.”


There has been speculation in the press that Brian and Amy must have been troubled teens whose parents “warped them somewhere along the way” and who suffered from “a lack of communication”—a speculation Amy’s parents have made every effort to combat. At court appearances, Sonye always entered with her arms wrapped around her daughter, as though Amy were unable to walk on her own. During breaks she sat next to her daughter, continually touching her and playing with her hair as if she were still a little girl.


In June 1997, Amy and her parents appeared on Barbara Walters’s television show 20/20 (a gambit for which the judge dismissed her lead lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, for violating a court-imposed gag order). The only point of the show seemed to be to convey that Amy was a good daughter. Filmed sitting on her bed in a girlish room with large stuffed animals, Amy and her mother spoke in eerily matching phrases, affirming their special closeness. Finishing Amy’s sentences, her mother declared Amy “a child who went through high school and never received detention or a parking ticket” and who always told her everything.


Still heavy from her pregnancy, wearing silver rings and a silver heart necklace identical to one her mother wears, Amy appeared strikingly inarticulate, younger than her 18 years, and removed from the reality of her child’s death. When asked what she first thought when she was accused of the crime—days after she had left her child in the Dumpster—she responded, “I couldn’t understand why.” When asked, “Can you ever forget? Is it always with you?,” she cried, “Constantly—I’m still reminded because I’m still confined!" and showed her ankle with the monitoring bracelet to the camera.


AS a child, Brian Peterson, with his straight blond hair, blue eyes, and pale skin, embodied an American ideal of little-boy cuteness—an idea his mother was sufficiently keen on that she took him on auditions. He actually appeared in some print advertisements and a toy commercial in which he rode a rocking horse. He grew up to be, as Barbara’s childhood friend Lorraine Palmetto describes him, “a nice, nice-looking, well-rounded, athletic, all-American kid. He wasn’t a bookworm and he didn’t get the best grades, but he didn’t pierce his tongue or tattoo his butt, and he never gave his parents amoment’s worry.”


At Ramapo High School, Brian was co-captain of the soccer team and one of the most popular boys. He had a smooth confidence—an aura of floating in a serene space. A close friend, Ryan Carr, who is now a student at Drew University, says, “People looked up to him, and he tried to demonstrate how the captain should act by being responsible and level-headed. He had a lot of common sense.” Jason Fredson, a student at Boston University and a friend of Brian and Amy’s, told me that Brian “was one of those personalities that people immediately like—he was always the center of attention. He was good-looking and funny, the class clown.”


Nevertheless, Brian “drifted through school academically,” Jason remembers, “looking for things to kill the time.” His only real interest lay in sports, but while he was competitive and aggressive and, according to his soccer coach, a quality player, he was not a star. He had no plans for his future beyond enrolling in Gettysburg College, a small Lutheran school in southern Pennsylvania. Brian's guidance counselor, Tom Haring, envisioned Brian going into “some kind of business something—perhaps sales, because he was very personable.” Another friend of Brian’s told me, “I think underneath, Brian felt a lot of pressure about his future. He’d sort of go blank when the subject was raised—as it is all the time in Ramapo High. His father doesn’t make that much money; his stepfather, John, owns this rich business. He wanted to be like John, and I think he worried how he was going to do it. In our parents’ generation, you could work your way up, but now you need a Harvard M.B.A. He was going to Gettysburg College.”


But what Brian was like on a deeper level, no one seems to have known but Amy. Neither of Brian’s two closest friends—Marc Veli or Ryan Carr—recalls Brian’s ever having confided in them, or even having had a “serious” conversation with them. Brian and Amy “shared stuff they didn’t share with anybody else,” Ryan says. “Their relationship was like a circle no one went in.”


WHEN Brian and Amy began dating in their sophomore year, their classmates were puzzled by what Brian saw in her—a “not very visible” member of the class. She was “nice,” “sweet,” “quiet, but friendly,” and had a “ready smile.” She was “artistic”; she wanted to be a fashion designer. She was “helpful”; throughout high school, she volunteered to teach art to mentally retarded students. “I think that when you saw her, she really fell into the crowd; she didn't have any standout qualities personality-wise,” Jason Fredson says. “She hung around in a group of girls who were among the best-looking in school, but she wasn’t one of them.” However, Jason adds, “behind closed doors, I’m sure she has a personality-otherwise, what would Brian have seen in her?”


With Brian at the center of her life, Amy fit in better; her boyfriend even made her an object of widespread envy. “She was much more insecure than Brian,” their friend Marc Veli says. “She looked up to him because he was more popular and made himself known—she was very proud to be his girlfriend.” They lost their virginity to one another; in their senior year, Brian gave Amy a diamond-heart necklace, which she showed to everyone, and the two became known as “the couple” in the school.


Amy had few friends before she began going out with Brian. “She was the kind of person who only wanted to be exclusive friends with you—she would pull you in and take you away from a group. People knew it was a trap, so no one wanted to be friends with her,” an acquaintance of Amy’s explains. People remember her instead as spending most of her time with her mother. A friend of Amy’s mother recalls, “Amy always seemed in her mother’s shadow—Sonye was much more outgoing. I thought it was strange the way they were always together.”


In junior high school, Amy had been chubby, but in high school she became preoccupied with her weight, and by her senior year she had become painfully thin. Many of her classmates wondered if she had become anorexic. “Some girls thought she looked good, but I thought she was sick,” a friend of Amy’s says. “She was so caught up in dieting and trying to look perfect. I don’t know if her family ever really dealt with it. The Grossbergs had a very nice house and a very nice life, and they always drove the best cars, and they weren’t the kind of family where people had problems. Her mom was naturally skinny and fashionable, and Amy was always trying to look like her.”


One of Amy's friends told me that although it might have been difficult for Sonye to lose Amy as a confidante, Amy’s parents were thrilled about Brian. Barbara Zuchowski, however, was less thrilled about Amy. “It’s not so much that Barbara didn’t like her,” Lorraine Palmetto recalls, “as that she felt the relationship shouldn’t be so serious. It was a high-school romance. She thought Brian would go off to college and have other opportunities, that he had many horizons. Amy was always more invested in the relationship than he was—he was the one in the driver’s seat, but after she got pregnant, that changed.”


AMY conceived around February 1996, when she and Brian were seniors, but for many months, she managed to keep her pregnancy hidden from her parents and friends. Girls with eating disorders perceive their bodies in a distorted fashion, and those suffering from anorexia nervosa in particular often have fantasies that they can control physical reality. A young woman’s first pregnancy may be less visible, owing to her strong stomach musculature. And Amy, like many teenage girls—especially those with eating disorders—wore baggy clothes to conceal her body. Her parents were relieved to see her putting on weight.


Others recall Brian and Amy looking happy and in love throughout the spring and summer: celebrating their high-school graduation, going to parties at the Indian Hill country club, swimming in Brian’s backyard pool, and sailing in his parents’ boat. Brian went to Europe for a few weeks with his soccer team, and Amy worked at the YMCA with 5-year-old girls. In July, Amy had a routine precollege physical exam by her pediatrician in which her pregnancy was not detected. At one point, according to Brian’s lawyers, she and Brian discussed the pregnancy and considered an abortion, and they actually drove to a facility in northern New Jersey but did not go in. By the time she arrived at college, the date for a legal abortion had passed.


IN her dorm at Delaware, Amy had just one roommate, but she shared a bathroom and showers with half the floor, and other girls would sometimes walk in when she was showering. She managed, however, to effectively communicate that she did not want to talk about her condition—and, as it happened, the world collaborated in her denial. Perhaps a careless question from just one person—“When are you expecting?”—would have changed the course of events, made her realize the baby was not invisible and could not simply disappear, but no one asked.


Delaware student Leo Shane says that Amy’s pregnancy was something everyone thought about but no one talked about because “people liked her and wanted to respect her privacy. Anyway, everyone assumed that if she was pregnant, her parents must have known.”


Two weeks before the birth, Amy’s parents traveled to Delaware to visit her. This must have constituted a crisis for Amy—an occasion that threatened exposure or invited confession. Amy told her mother that she was tired and not feeling well. But the weekend passed without any mention of the pregnancy by either of them.


According to Sonye’s friends, Sonye was not only a loving mother but a modern, liberal woman who would have been able to handle the fact of her daughter’s pregnancy without punishing or rejecting her. As for why she did not realize that her daughter was eight and a half months pregnant, the most obvious explanation is that she didn’t want to—a message her daughter might have picked up on. When Sonye was Amy’s age, an out-of-wedlock pregnancy would have been a disaster; perhaps Amy was identifying with her mother (who had married her father after a high-school romance) or imagining her mother would see Amy as herself and not realize that her daughter’s options were different. Her mother, after all, was always analogizing their romances: “I looked at them the way I remembered Alan and I,” Mrs. Grossberg has said. A friend of Sonye’s says of mother and daughter: “I think they had a very overinvolved relationship, with a lack of boundaries.”


AT Gettysburg College, Brian’s classmates found him reserved and unapproachable. He didn’t become close to his roommate, and he was gone almost every weekend, visiting an increasingly pregnant Amy. Yet week after week, he failed to seek medical care and make plans for her delivery.


In fact, Amy was not just enduring an ordinary pregnancy without prenatal care; she was sick with pre-eclampsia, a high-bloodpressure condition that occurs in pregnancy and causes dizziness and nausea. Untreated, it can lead to eclampsia, which causes seizures. Moreover, by an odd twist of fate, after her baby’s death, it was discovered that he wasn’t healthy, either. He suffered from a rare brain deformity known as schizencephaly, or brain clefts, which would have resulted in mental retardation and impaired motor development: a birth defect that might have justified a late-term abortion had the teenagers consulted a doctor.


But friends say that while Brian’s passivity may have jeopardized Amy’s physical health, he believed he was protecting her mental health. “Amy was always a little fragile, and I think he felt he had to take care of her,” Marc Veli told me. According to Lorraine Palmetto, “he was worried about Amy. She made him promise not to tell anyone. She was sick throughout the pregnancy, and he was afraid she was suicidal. He felt if he did anything to betray her, it would push her over the edge.” Another friend of Brian’s says that Amy “told him she would kill herself if he told anyone. He felt it was her body, and he wanted to stand by her. He promised.”


IT was almost one in the morning on November 12 when Amy called Brian to tell him her water had broken. He drove the two and a half hours to Delaware. There was a hospital just a few miles away, but like most students at the school, Amy was covered by her parents’ health insurance, and they would be notified in the event of a hospitalization. A conversation took place in which they apparently decided that keeping the secret was paramount and should override all other considerations: They would drive to a nearby motel and attempt—without anesthesia, without Lamaze classes, and with only their dim recollections of health-class birth movies for guidance—to deliver the baby themselves.


Amy waited in the car while Brian paid $56 in cash at the desk of the Comfort Inn and signed his real name, address, and license-plate number on the hotel register. At four in the morning, in the grim faux-pastoral décor of Room 220, Amy gave birth to a small boy with a full head of dark hair. No one at the hotel heard Amy's cries during childbirth, and no one heard the cries of the child, either.


About an hour later, they left the motel, taking with them bloody, balled-up bed linens. They separated immediately and went back to their respective colleges and took up their normal routines. Brian stopped at a car wash on his way home. Amy attended her classes and was seen around the dorm by other students until six in the evening, when she suffered a seizure, began hemorrhaging severely, and fainted. She was taken by ambulance to Christiana Hospital, where the medical staff there realized immediately that the blood seeping between Amy's legs was from the undelivered placenta. But when they asked where the baby was, she denied its existence.


Alerted about the missing infant, police were eventually directed to Brian at Gettysburg College, who told them he had “taken care of the baby and placed it in the Dumpster.” In the frigid morning the following day, police dogs located the baby in a metal bin behind the parking lot of the Comfort Inn. The baby had been placed in a gray garbage bag with yellow strings—a bag not provided by the motel, but one Brian and Amy must have brought with them. The Dumpster was to be emptied in half an hour.


THE death certificate lists the causes of death as multiple skull fractures, hypothermia, and asphyxia. In their plea agreement, Brian and Amy asserted that they were guilty of manslaughter rather than murder, because they never tried to harm the baby. But though prosecutors accepted the plea, this contention is contradicted by their own evidence. “We absolutely know the baby was alive when the injuries were sustained,” Dr. Adrienne Sekula-Perlman, a deputy chief medical examiner in Delaware, told me. She explained that it is easy to distinguish pre-and postmortem trauma because dead tissue does not bleed in the same way. “Unlike in the movies, people often do not die immediately of head trauma,” she says. “The baby was alive when they put it in the Dumpster; it died of a combination of the trauma, lack of oxygen from having been placed in a garbage bag, and exposure.” Dr. Sekula-Perlman also says that “the fractures did not come about as the result of an accident”—such as dropping the baby on the bathroom floor—because “we can distinguish fractures caused by accidents” by calculating the weight of the baby, the height of the fall, and so forth.


The defense maintains that the baby died of schizencephaly, perhaps aggravated by eclampsia. “Had the baby been viable, they doubtless would have dropped it off on a doorstep,” a defense lawyer told me. But although a small percentage of infants do die at birth of schizencephaly, according to Dr. Sekula-Perlman, this baby died of skull fractures—“massive fractures, from repeated blows aimed at the head. Head trauma is a very specific thing.”


Could the baby have been born still and blue, so that they thought it was dead and placed it in the Dumpster, where its skull was crushed by accident? Deputy Attorney General Peter Letang, the lead prosecutor in the case, claims that nothing was found on top of the infant’s body. Dr. Sekula-Perlman insists that the baby had “ingested oxygen,” and it was “normal-looking—it was cute. We thought of every imaginable possibility. I went in thinking it must have been stillborn, or died accidentally. I wanted it to be different. I have an 18-year-old son who looks like the defendant. But the evidence just kept building up."


THE killing of a child by its parent has always been seen as a special crime, different from a death at the hands of a stranger, and one that tends to produce disparate compassionate or condemnatory reactions. Under Roman law, murdering children up to adulthood was a paternal right, and in many countries infanticide is an almost acceptable form of population control. In others, like England, maternal infanticide is considered more symptomatic of mental illness than of criminality, and mothers are generally sent to psychiatric hospitals instead of prison.


Dr. Kaye argues that infanticide is a lesser crime than murder, because an infant “wouldn't have been alive but for its parents” and because it “suffers less than an older child or adult. It has no life experience—its claim on life is less.” However, the very fragility of a newborn makes others react to infanticide as the most depraved of crimes, one for which a civilized society can tolerate no forgiveness.


Verdicts in maternal infanticide cases are unpredictable, but juries tend to sympathize with the defendant. The average sentence of those convicted is a couple of years—far less than penalties for mothers convicted of killing older children. In many states (including New York), the killing of a newborn is not legally considered first-degree murder. In Delaware, where another dead infant was found in a Dumpster just last week, prosecutors ultimately opted not to risk a trial for Brian and Amy, perhaps because they were afraid the jury would concur with Brian’s soccer coach, Evan Baumgarten, who says, “They made some bad decisions. Doesn’t anyone remember what it’s like to be 18? You make mistakes. You do things for love. It doesn’t mean your life should be ruined.”


IT took more than a year before legal pressures fractured the couple. Each of their defense teams—which have included more than a dozen lawyers, the best-known of whom is Jack Litman, who previously represented Robert Chambers and Oliver Jovanovic—has focused on casting the other as the dominant and therefore responsible partner, Brian’s defense is that he was doing what Amy wanted; Amy’s defense is, as one might expect, the mirror image. The position of Brian’s defense team, that he was “under Amy’s spell,” seemed a tricky sell. “He was doing what she told him to and keeping her secret,” one of his lawyers told me. “I think he was a hero. In most neonaticide cases, the father deserts the woman—but not Brian. If you go to help a suicidal friend, is it your fault if they kill themselves anyway?”


Amy’s position seemed slightly stronger. “Amy was suffering from eclampsia as well as the stress of labor,” a defense lawyer told me. “She wasn't in a position to be making decisions. Her life was in her boyfriend’s hands.” Moreover, he explained, Amy had an irregular period. She miscalculated the dates of her pregnancy and thought she was having “a miscarriage rather than a live birth”—an explanation that doesn't actually account for why she and Brian went to the motel room. Her defense team sought to introduce evidence that she had been “mentally and emotionally overwrought” and had passed a polygraph test, ruled out by the judge, supporting her account that she never saw the baby, never knew it was alive, and never discussed killing it. Unlike Brian, who had admitted disposing of the baby when first questioned by the police, Amy had never spoken to them.


IT was the imbalance in their legal liability that made Amy’s lawyer decide to separate their defenses, by asking in March for a separate trial. Legally, the wisest thing that Amy could have done would have been to marry Brian, so that he couldn’t testify against her. Instead, when Amy’s lawyers blamed him, Brian’s defense collapsed, and within days he pleaded guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence. He agreed to testify against his girlfriend, claiming that she had shouted: "Get rid of it—get rid of it!"


WHAT was in their minds the night they rid themselves of their newborn? If the two teenagers were psychotic, as some psychiatrists have speculated, they could have been thinking anything—that the baby could only be born in a Comfort Inn, or that they had to dispose of it before it melted into brown sugar. There is a rare psychiatric malady called shared psychotic disorder, or folie à deux, in which two people develop a common delusion. According to Dr. Paul McHugh, psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Medical School, in the clinical definition, “ordinarily one of the members is mentally ill and pulls the other into their world.” Moreover, he says, “the hallmark of genuine mental illness is that it shows up in aspects of the individuals’ lives other than a specific crime they’ve committed.”


In a broader sense, however, folie à deux describes a well-known phenomenon: that intimacy can produce an alliance of irrationality and two people can compel each other to action that neither would have undertaken alone and that both regret. Something in the chemistry of Brian and Amy’s relationship made them act in ways uncharacteristic of their individual selves and see the baby as an unwelcome intruder upon their intimacy. “They were like one person,” their friend Marc Veli says. “They were so close and the same. Whatever one would say, the other would agree. They were always together and did all the same things, and everything was mutual and the same."


BRIAN and Amy’s story reads like a parable of the perils of being good kids: of being unable to admit a problem; of wanting so badly not to disappoint your parents that you end up being indicted for having murdered their grandchild. “Their choices display a kind of moral retardation,” comments Dr. McHugh, “an absence of development—or a characterological maldevelopment.”


Perhaps the true reason Amy didn’t have an abortion is that she and Brian were nursing a secret fantasy that they wanted to have a baby—a little Cabbage Patch child. But then, as the pregnancy waxed, the doll threatened to metamorphose into a person, and suddenly they no longer wanted to play.


“They may have seen it as an abortion too late—a kind of full-birth abortion,” Dr. McHugh says. “They thought: What’s the difference, in or out of the uterine wall?” There’s a slipperiness to the moral logic of these issues, for, as pro-life editorials about this case have pointed out, the difference between murder and abortion can be only one day. But although Brian and Amy may not have seen an important difference between in and ex utero, the distinction is one our society draws clearly and most people feel intuitively. In foreclosing their child's future, Brian and Amy have foreclosed their own.