Skip to comments.A grief conserved: Perinatal hospice offers alternative to trauma of aborting disabled child
Posted on 07/31/2009 8:32:29 AM PDT by rhema
"Something's wrong with this baby," my ultrasound technician told me. She had just scanned Mrs. Jones (a fictitious name) at 20 weeks and went on to describe her findings, findings that surely meant little chance of survival for that baby. As I later spoke with Mrs. Jones to relay the findings, she wept. I arranged an appointment with a maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) specialist.
The next day I received an urgent call from my patient. Through more tears, she described her visit in which the MFM doctor confirmed the grim prognosis. The baby would die, probably within a week or two. The MFM insisted on scheduling her for an abortion in three days. "Do I have to have an abortion?" she asked. I promised to call the MFM and assured her she did not have to abort.
When I called the MFM specialist, she immediately rattled off the severe abnormalities found, the fetus' incompatibility with life, and the scheduling of an abortion. I interrupted: "If the baby is going to die anyway, why do you want to kill it before it dies a natural death?" There was silence on the other end. I went on to explain that the parents would not have to deal with the guilt of killing their child if it died naturally. There was a pause, then, "I hadn't thought of that," she said.
So much for nondirective counseling, as it is called. Sadly, I've had several similar experiences in my 27 years of practice.
My patient's baby did die in utero about two weeks later. She labored and delivered a stillborn baby with all the grief and pain associated with it. She was thankful, however, for the love and support of family and friends during the process and the knowledge that she had not contributed to her baby's death.
When a pregnant woman clearly understands the primary purpose of genetic testingabortion of a handicapped babya majority decline testing in my experience and almost all pro-life women decline testing. Nearly every problem now identified by prenatal diagnosis has no treatment. David Grimes, a well-known OB/GYN, professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and a strong abortion advocate, spoke truth in a rare moment of public clarity when he said prenatal diagnosis would disappear if abortion were not available.
But what happens when a routine 20-week ultrasound shows a baby with a profound abnormality, possibly an abnormality that will certainly result in the death of the baby prior to or shortly after birth? Or when a genetic test is done and shows similar results and the patient then decides against abortion? What then?
Enter perinatal hospice, the brain child of Byron Calhoun, a pro-life maternal-fetal medicine specialist.
Perinatal hospice honors life. The woman carrying the disabled child receives extensive counseling and birth preparation involving the combined efforts of MFM specialists, OB/GYN doctors, neonatologists, anesthesia services, chaplains, pastors, social workers, labor and delivery nurses, and neonatal nurses. She carries the pregnancy to its natural conclusion. She and her husband are allowed to grieve and prepare for the short time God may grant them with their child while their baby lives inside or outside the womb. Such a process obviates the grief caused by elective abortion, killing the child before it could be born.
Doctors and nurses often withdraw from hopeless patients, and surely a baby with a lethal anomaly is a hopeless patient. Add to that, as my example above illustrates, the concept of natural death for babies with lethal anomalies perplexes those who advocate abortion and prenatal eugenics. For them, not terminating a hopeless pregnancy is stupid.
Perinatal hospice, on the other hand, allows natural grief and separation with the support of the medical community. Calhoun says parental responses have been overwhelmingly positive. "These parents are allowed the bittersweetness of their child's birth and too-soon departure. Grief lessens as time passes and the parents rest secure in the knowledge that they shared in their baby's life and treated the child with the same dignity as a terminally-ill adult."
Even those mystified by a patient choosing life have recognized the value of Calhoun's idea, as perinatal hospice programs now dot the nation. But this mystery is no mystery to us. As Job 1:21 states, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
Matt Anderson is a practicing OB/GYN in Minnesota and blogs regularly at mdviews.wordpress.com.
So much for nondirective counseling, as it is called.
Non-directive? Not hardly.
The perinatal hospice is a wonderful idea. The author is right, in that the medical community doesn’t have any way to deal with ‘hopeless cases’, especially when dealing with unborn children.
And here we’ve been told that people with disabilities have been protected from discrimination in society.
There are charitable organizations that specifically target persons suspected of having birth defects with infanticide.
I'd heard so many good things about partial birth abortions.
Some hospitals even have a “comfort” room (tell me that's not caring and humane) where the parents can take the soon to die aborted FETUS and pose with it for pictures, have it baptized and spend some quality time with their FETUS while it's life slowly expires.
Who'd want to miss out on something like that?
(Sorry if I ruined anyone’s lunch. Mine gets ruined everytime I'm presented with the issue.)
How much you wanta bet Obamacare would outlaw such care, or make the patients pay for it themselves.
“the parents of the child would not have the guilt...”
My cousin had her baby after the doctor told her the child would not live long, there was just to much wrong. After the child was born, she lived about 2 hours. They got to hold her, and they had a small funeral for her at church. A small stone with the child’s name was put up. She told her other 2 children who came later about their sister. While this is sad, she has moved on. Her doctor offered her the option of abortion. I have often wondered, while her story is sad, how much worse would it have been if she had aborted the child - and spent the rest of her life wondering? I think she would always have had the questions, and I believe she would have guilt. At least now she knows they gave their child all they could - a chance at life.-—JM
If they believe that you are carrying a child who will have disabilities and who will require a lot of expensive care -- perhaps for decades -- then you can bet that abortion will be prescribed so as to avoid adding a "useless eater" to the population.
And yeah: I think it will be like China, where the abortion is NOT optional.
It’s not just aborting babies with defects — the medical community assumes that every woman experiencing a miscarriage or false pregnancy (empty sac or blighted ovum)immediately wants a D&C “just to get it over with.”
I was lucky to have a doctor who was on the same page when I went thru this. But when I let nature take its course, and had to go the emergency room because I was blacking out, every medical professional I encountered there assumed I was scheduled for, required or desired a D&C.
I would love to see hospices/birthing centers offer services to women who are going to miscarry an early pregnancy, because it can be quite an ordeal. I’m sure many women like me would prefer NOT to have their bodies defiled by an invasive procedure, but fear experiencing a miscarriage at home.
The medical community should give them another option.
Thanks so much for posting this.
We had friends who gave birth to a baby girl with some kind of syndrome. She lived seven days. On the day she died, our pastor asked us in church to leave and go up to the hospital for they were going to unhook her from life support. We got there in time to be with the parents while the baby was taken off life support and were taken into a darkened room with the family. We each held her, sang to her, praised the Lord for her, prayed for her. She died quietly without our even realizing it. It was an amazing experience and one that blessed her parents as well. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
After NOT having a D&C after a miscarriage — simply because I was too young & uninformed to know that I needed one — I got pelvic peritonitis, was hopita;ized in intensive care and almost died. THe D & C is not necessaily sn sortion — after a miscarriage or a spontaneous abortion, it remove small fragments of tissue that remain inside and can become infected.
Thanks also to WORLD magazine.
Years ago, we had gone to Orlando for a small vacation weekend with the our children.
Unknown to us, a dear family in our congregation had been rushed there due to complications of birth.
Not knowing they were there, I felt a strong urgency for the baby, and during the night had recurring dreams about it...
In the morning I found out they were in a hospital close by.
We went to the hospital.....the baby had been born live, but lived only a few short hours.
I was encouraged by the parents to see the child as they lovingly held her, comforted her and prayed over her during her last breaths.
She was a beautiful little girl....
Respect for life separates us from the profane direction of Planned Parenthood, NARAL, etc.
How can anyone....anyone....choose to abort a living, breathing baby...
The last I knew, “hospice” is another way of saying you’ll be kept comfortable, but not treated. Perhaps kind, compassionate people will not treat you. I know there are many times when treatment is futile, but we must guard against “hospice” being another euphemism for letting an unwanted baby die, while we do artificial things to make ourselves feel better.
My grandson was born last year with a birth defect that led all his nurses to tell us it was a pity the defect couldn’t have been discovered earlier so something “could have been done.” If he had been born prematurely, or aborted late, would they have urged us to put him in hospice? We think he’s perfect, but he will have more costly health care than the average person. Is there a connection?
Thanks for posting.
My daughter was pestered constantly during her last pregnancy to have ‘testing’ for her unborn child. BTW We called the little person “Dot” at the time, as that is how the baby appeared in the sonograms.
Anyway, she went full term and now has a great little boy.
She told me about being pestered about the testing, and then said “Dad, I could never have an abortion, no matter what”. She knew she would the full support of her family, no matter what...
Unbelievable. Baptising an aborted baby as it is dying? Astonishing blasphemy and evil.
A beautiful, beautiful story. Thank you for posting it.
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