Mothers Concerned That Doctors Pressure Abortion for Disabled Babies

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 13, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Mothers Concerned That Doctors Pressure Abortion for Disabled Babies Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 13, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Some parents of disabled unborn children are concerned that doctors are increasingly pressuring women carrying babies with physical or mental handicaps to have abortions. The concerns come after a leading pro-life senator highlighted the issue during the hearings over Supreme Court nominee John Roberts.

During Beth Allard’s pregnancy, her doctors found problems with her unborn son Ben during a routine ultrasound. They told her, "This is not good news."

An amniocentesis revealed Ben had Down syndrome, a condition which causes mental disabilities. However, Allard told ABC News that what disturbed her more was her doctor’s characterization of the nonfatal disease as a problem and urging an abortion.

"They called me at work to tell me, and then said, ‘You have two weeks to decide if you’re going to keep this child. Either way, it’s an awful thing,’" Allard said.

Allard told ABC News that doctors emphasized the problems associated with raising a child with Down’s syndrome and problems Ben would always have. She indicated doctors gave her no hope and no resources she could turn to on raising a mentally disabled baby.

"They were very negative throughout the whole thing," she told ABC News. "I cried every day. I was so scared." "They were very negative throughout the whole thing," she said. "I cried every day. I was so scared."

Allard’s situation isn’t unique.

Brian Skotko, a joint-degree student at Harvard Medical School and Harvard’s John. F. Kennedy School of Government has conducted a study on parents in similar circumstances. He found that mothers of children with Down’s syndrome report their physicians as overwhelmingly negative during the pregnancy.

Doctors often advise an abortion or adoption, Skotko found.

Pro-life Sen. Sam Brownback discussed the problem during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings to confirm John Roberts for the Supreme Court.

Brownback told Roberts about a disabled man named Jimmy who runs the elevators that shuttle members of the Senate from the Senate floor to their offices.

"His warm smile welcomes us every day. We’re a better body for him," Brownback said.

"And, yet, we’re ennobled by him and what he does and how he lifts up our humanity and 80 to 90 percent of the kids in this country like Jimmy never get here," Brownback said of abortions of disabled babies.