The Coney Island Incubator Babies: How a Sideshow Became Standard Practice in Neonatal Intensive Care, an Illustrated Lecture with Elizabeth Yuko
Date: Wednesday, June 1rst
Location: Morbid Anatomy Museum, 424 Third Avenue, 11215 Brooklyn NY
In many ways, the Coney Island of the early 20th century was the Internet of its day, a place where people went to learn and to gawk in equal measure. Among the sideshows and oddities were new mechanical wonders and cutting-edge technologies that had yet to make it into the mainstream. And there was also another exhibit, nestled among the curiosities and the technological demonstrations, that was a little bit of each. Between 1903 and 1943, babies born prematurely were rushed to a state-of-the-art neonatal intensive-care unitone that happened to also be one of the most popular attractions on Coney Island. Run by a doctor named Martin Couney, it was, for most of its existence, the only facility in the U.S. designed especially for the care of severely premature infants. At a time when most full-term babies weighed approximately six pounds, Couney declared that he had nursed thousands of three-pound babies back to health. Of the roughly 8,000 premature babies brought to him at Coney Island, around 6,500 survived. This illustrated lecture will highlight a fascinating chapter of reproductive medical history, allowing us to examine the nuances between skepticism, showmanship, exploitation and ethical concerns with emerging technology.
Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is a bioethicist at the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education, specializing in reproductive ethics and the ethics of human enhancement. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Global Bioethics Initiative, the founding and senior editor of Ethics & Society, and serves as an external ethics expert for the European Research Council. Yuko has written for publications such as The Atlantic, Ms. Magazine, Salon, The Huffington Post, and The Establishment, and hosts a comedic lecture series called "Let's Get Ethical!" at Q.E.D. in Astoria, Queens. Her show, "Everything I Know About Bioethics I Learned from The Golden Girls" was named one of the top-10 events of fall 2015 by The Village Voice.
Morbid Anatomy Museum (View)
424 A Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215