As pre-natal technology improves, parents are coming face to face with life and death choices unimaginable just a few years ago. Is the Church ready to help them?
Every day, parents face hard choices big and small: Whether to send their children to private or public school; whether to allow them to watch certain shows or turn off the television.
But the gravity of some choices far exceeds these common decisions — choices that parents were never intended to make.
Every year, 150,000 babies are born with birth defects. Countless more never make it to birth.
Prenatal screening has opened up a baffling world of “choices” to couples who are expecting a baby. Using tests administered as early as the first trimester, couples can find out if their baby has any number of congenital disorders — ranging from Down syndrome to spina bifida.
These tests are often presented by the medical community as a way to help prevent risks for the mother and child, but as Adrienne Asch, professor of bioethics at Yeshiva University, says, “[Prenatal testing] is not a medical procedure to promote the health of the fetus. It is a procedure to give prospective parents information to decide whether or not to eliminate a possible future life.”
This is why 90 percent of babies with Down syndrome are aborted. Not to mention countless others whose lives are terminated because of an unfortunate mixing of chromosomes.
What is even more shocking is that many women make the decision to abort their baby because they feel pressured by their doctors or insurance companies.
One mother named Katie learned that her baby had Trisomy 13, a genetic disorder also known as Patau syndrome. The medical community refers to this disorder as being “incompatible with life.” Although the vast majority babies with the disorder don’t survive, many can live several years after birth. Katie writes that she and her partner felt pressured by medical professionals to terminate the pregnancy, so she did.
“At that time it was all we knew to do,” Katie wrote. No one gave us any 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.”
With healthcare costs rising and government-mandated and controlled insurance on the horizon, more pressure, not less, will be brought against parents like Katie to abort their children with disorders.
Thank God my daughter, Emily, rejected any prenatal testing with her son Max, who is a beautiful 20-year-old autistic young man.
If the government and insurers don’t want to pay to help families raise children with severe medical needs, who will? Will churches stand in the gap by helping to provide for these families emotionally and financially?
“1heart2souls” is an online support group to help couples understand that they have options other than aborting their child, as well as offering them resources and emotional support. You can find a link to their website at BreakPoint.org. We need more groups like this to support expecting parents.It’s easy to be pro-life when we’re not the ones affected. But when members of the Body of Christ face a difficult prenatal diagnosis, are we pro-life enough to share the burden with them? Important question.
1 Heart 2 Souls
Termination rates after prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, spina bifida, anencephaly, and Turner and Klinefelter syndromes
C. Mansfield, S. Hopfer, TM Marteau | NIH | September 19, 1999
When Disability Strikes Home
Chuck Colson & R. C. Sproul | JoniandFriends.org | 2009