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OB discusses perinatal hospice

August 4, 2009

I thought this was a great article to share for several reasons. First, it’s edifying to find MD’s who are supportive of carrying babies to term who will go out on a limb and write about it (even in Christian journals). Second, I have discussed prenatal testing with this MD via blog posts, and I respect him, even on the points we disagree. And finally it gives us an opportunity to look closely at what MD’s feel they have to offer parents – in this instance, perinatal hospice.

Many of us on the peer support provider end of things see that the medical community (it is not one monolithic group, of course) is still behind the times, a bit. Perinatal hospice is a topic that helps illustrate the point. When we are discussing perinatal hospice – we need to be careful in presenting it as *the* solution to abortion for prenatal diagnosis. Perinatal hospice is only appropriate for those who have no hope of survival beyond birth. Most abortions are for conditions such as Down syndrome – or other syndromes or defects that may cause a child to have ranging severity of disabilities, but who are able to live out a natural life well beyond the neonatal period. Even this group can be sub-divided: those who can live out their natural life with minor medical intervention, and those who need specialized care to survive.

Perinatal hospice is the humane and loving choice for babies who will certainly die and cannot be helped with medical treatment. However, this is not always something that can be (or should be) determined before birth. To see why that is the case, please visit Living with Trisomy 13. You will find that perinatal hospice would not have been an appropriate response to the birth of many of these babies who have survived with medical  interventions ranging from minor to more serious. Though there are really many different outcomes for the children featured on LWT13, all the parents were told their babies had an “incompatible with life” condition.

So, to counter the idea that abortion is the solution, yes –  we need perinatal hospice, plus much more – and we need to help MD’s help their patients have access to the much more . . .

Without further ado, then:

A grief conserved

Perinatal hospice offers an alternative to the trauma of aborting a disabled child | Matt Anderson

“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. continue

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