By a mother who grieves the hospital expedited death of her Trisomy 13 baby (name withheld)
March 13, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – When a woman is told that her unborn baby has a condition which will likely result in death soon after birth, the health care system strongly encourages abortion.
There is an abundance of support offered to the family to encourage the decision to terminate such pregnancies. The majority of these pregnancies are in the second trimester by the time the problems are discovered. The resulting abortions usually involved early induction of labour.
In the past, little if any support has been offered for the choice of carrying the baby to term and letting God decide the longevity of the baby’s life.
This is changing. There is a tremendous growth in perinatal hospices in the United States. The hospice provides all the necessary medical and social support for the family to prepare for the birth and death of their newborn. The family is guided and supported to write birth plans which enable them to spend quality time with their newborn according to their wishes.
Lee Hill Kavanaugh, from the Kansas City Star has won the 2008 Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Writing Award for a story about a family’s decision to carry their son to term, despite a lethal prenatal diagnosis.
The first story of the series was entitled Love to Last a Life Time and documents a family’s journey throughout the pregnancy and the birth of their son, Zeke. The baby lived for 35 minutes and was treasured by his loving family for the duration of his life.
Both the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists and the Society of Obstetrics and Gynecologists of Canada have recommended an extension of genetic screening for women of all ages. Genetic screening and ultrasounds performed for the sole purpose of looking for defects in the unborn baby are increasingly considered to be part of routine prenatal care.
In Ontario, birth defect surveillance is done by the Fetal Alert Network, which is funded the Ministry of Health. The data provided by this group is decidedly scant. A newsletter laments the fact that 3% of total births involve a serious birth defect, “despite the fact that many birth defects can be identified through prenatal testing.” Increasingly, pregnancy termination is seen as a way to “prevent” birth defects from occurring.
Presently, there are 44 Perinatal Hospices throughout the United States. Canada only offers this supportive service in Edmonton, Alberta.
The growth of these hospices is largely attributed to Amy Kuebelbeck, whose son Gabriel passed away due to a serious heart defect that was diagnosed before birth.
Ms. Kuebelbeck has promoted the importance of the perinatal hospice all over North America. Recently, she made a very well received presentation to 1000 genetic counsellors at their national meeting in Kansas City.
The national journalism award for a story about the decision to carry an ill-fated pregnancy to term provides a tremendous boost to encourage awareness and growth of perinatal hospices.
The effect of this encouragement is that more people in society can bear witness to the beauty of these special lives which, despite their brevity have great purpose and value.
Love to Last a Lifetime
Exceptional Video on Baby Zeke’s Life
More information on perinatal hospices