Groups Provide Support for Parents After Prenatal Diagnosis

National   |   Rebecca Taylor   |   Sep 22, 2011   |   10:21AM   |   Washington, DC

I have always believed that most expecting women do not go into prenatal testing with the intent to abort their child if something is found to be wrong. I have read countless stories of women who are pressured by health care professionals to use abortion to “solve” fetal medical problems. I know in my deepest soul that eugenic abortion is so prevalent not because women want to abort their not-so-perfect fetus but because they are told, in their time of crisis and at their most vulnerable by the health care professionals that they trust, that there is no other choice.

ThereseAnn, Site facilitator for the website Living with Trisomy 13, and mother to a Trisomy 13 daughter, wrote the following about the experiences of women who where told they were carrying a child with Trisomy 13:

Over the years I’ve received many emails from women who aborted, terminated or induced early their Trisomy 13 children. They were amazed and completely surprised that their child could have survived, or at least grown to a point where they could reach their mothers arms! These women were given NO HOPE that their child would make it to term. Many were even told that their child’s diagnosis was more severe than the norm and discouraged from researching the disorder for themselves. Without a full understanding of this complex disorder, they felt they had no option but to terminate with all the pressures around them. These women fall into a unique category, those who felt “pressured to interrupt their pregnancy for medical reasons.”

Another mother, Katie, wrote this about her treatment by medical professionals after a prenatal diagnosis of Trisomy 13:

We had chosen to have a termination due to all the pressure from the doctors/genetic counselors/professionals. Also at that time it was all we knew to do. No one gave us any information and we had no access to viable information….

Maybe if the professionals we had talked to would have given us more information we would have made a different choice. To this day, I still live with the pain of the choices we made. Trisomy needs to have a bigger voice and all the professionals need to be more open minded and not so much on terminating, after all do they really know the after pains we go through?

Dr. Richard W. Sams II, a family physician in the United States Navy and the director of the Naval Hospital Jacksonville Family Medicine Residency Program, relayed the experience of one of his patients in an article for The New Atlantis journal:

One woman for whom I provided prenatal care had a child diagnosed with a severe heart anomaly by ultrasound at 20 weeks gestation. The anomaly is virtually always lethal. Both a perinatologist and a geneticist recommended to the couple that the woman have an abortion. Despite being deeply offended by the recommendation and informing the physicians that she would carry the child to term, the suggestion was repeated numerous times. Her experience is far from anomalous.

 

These experiences are as ubiquitous as they are horrifying.  And that is why the announcement of a new organization to help parents who have been given an devastating prenatal diagnosis is so heartening.  Started by Theresa Gray, grandmother of conjoined twins who died shortly after birth, 1heart2souls seeks to provide resources and options to expectant parents besides just killing their child.  From Lifesitenews:

1heart2souls is an organization formed to support expectant parents who will experience infant loss or the birth of an infant with disabilities. Gray says that over 98% of babies with a poor prenatal prognosis are aborted.

1heart2souls seeks to get information to genetic counselors, ob/gyns, and clinics where parents will likely get the negative prognosis. This is important, says Gray, because these expectant parents are normally given abortion option literature.

“This is disturbing and has to be challenged,” she told LifeSiteNews.

Gray’s nonprofit is comprised primarily of women who have lost their infants or have a child with disabilities.  It is currently 100% volunteer.

The organization’s vision and hope is that in supporting and bringing awareness to the suffering and challenges of expectant parents it will lead to further research on causes and prevention of infant loss and birth disabilities. More importantly, they hope that through compassionate support parents will realize the joy in embracing their child or children.

“We believe that all children are created in the image of love, and are fits to the world with a given and profound purpose,” Gray said.

Another great resource that has been around for many years is Be Not Afraid.  At their website you can find all kinds of resources for just about any prenatal diagnosis.  And it is also a great place for genetic counselors as well who want to provide more than just abortion referrals.  Karen, a genetic counselor, wrote the following about Be Not Afraid:

“Genetic counselors are frequently the providers that break the initial news to parents about their baby.  It’s not easy for parents to hear this “news” –  it is a life-altering and critical time and they feel all the weight of the world upon their shoulders.  I always consider the time I spend with them a true privilege. Every story is different, but each one deeply moves me, especially when I am allowed to enter into their lives.  In them I see that that unconditional love only a mother and a father can have for their baby despite knowing their baby has serious birth defects, some of them life threatening. We cannot do this alone. Be Not Afraid Ministry has been an instrumental resource because they bring a higher level of care and support to these families. I feel truly indebted to them.”

These two organizations remind us all that there is no hope in abortion, only death.  Parents do have other options and places to turn if they are being pressured to abort their child because of a prenatal diagnosis.

LifeNews.com Note: Rebecca Taylor is a clinical laboratory specialist in molecular biology, and a practicing pro-life Catholic who writes at the bioethics blog Mary Meets Dolly. She has been writing and speaking about Catholicism and biotechnology for five years and has been interviewed on EWTN radio on topics from stem cell research and cloning to voting pro-life. Taylor has a B.S. in Biochemistry from University of San Francisco with a national certification in clinical Molecular Biology MB (ASCP).