New Research Helps Pregnant Women With Cancer Avoid Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 28, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Research Helps Pregnant Women With Cancer Avoid Abortions Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 28,

Washington, DC ( — It’s the ultimate moral dilemma when it comes to the issue of abortion — What do you do when a mother’s life is at risk and she is pregnant? ABC News, in a television program airing tonight, highlights new research helping pregnant moms who suffer from cancer to avoid having an abortion.

The station’s "World News with Charles Gibson" program on Wednesday night focuses on the story of 26-year-old Linda Sanchez who received the news she had cancer just one day after learning she was pregnant.

Sanchez ultimate gave birth to her baby, Isabella, one month ahead of her due date. The healthy baby showed no signs of the chemotherapy Sanchez had during the pregnancy.

The choice between having an abortion or subjecting an unborn child to chemo treatment is an excruciating one.

"My doctor basically said it was me or the baby," Sanchez told ABC News.

But the program is highlighting new research at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center showing that women may no longer have to make that decision.

Scientists there say it is possible to treat the mother without hurting her unborn child.

"Yes, chemotherapy is toxic. But what we have found is that when given in the second or third trimesters it appears to be safe," said Dr. Jennifer Litton, breast oncologist at the MD Anderson Cancer center, told ABC News.

"[The] placenta is protecting the baby. That baby is not getting the same side effects as the mother," Litton said.

She said that focus on treatment later in the pregnancy has allowed dozens of mothers to give birth to healthy babies.

With the change in approach to therapy and the birth of a healthy child a little early, Sanchez told ABC News that her cancerous tumor has already shrunk 60 percent and she is on track to continue therapy now that she’s given birth.