Pressure to Abort Intense for Expectant Moms Carrying Down Syndrome Babies

An official of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations says a new study about abortion and Down syndrome shows a disturbing trend.

The study from the March issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology says women often only receive negative information when a prenatal exam shows a possibility of the baby having Down syndrome. Expectant mothers, the study shows, are seldom counseled about the latest information on Down syndrome or supplied information about parent support groups during the decision-making time.

Dr. Gene Rudd, associate executive director of the CMDA, says he recently talked to a woman whose daughter is in a similar situation. He explains that studies have shown the baby's chromosomes to be normal, but an ultrasound has detected a birth defect.

“[T]his child has a club foot and one other defect, both of which are surgically correctible and compatible with a full life,” Rudd says. “But this young girl is being told by her health-care providers that her best choice is to have this child aborted.”

A 1993 Canadian study found that one-fourth of the women surveyed admitted feeling pressured to undergo an amniocentesis — and that one-third of those who tested positive for some form of birth defect felt pressured by medical staff to have an abortion. Another study conducted three years earlier revealed this astonishing finding: 88 percent of 22,000 women whose unborn child had been diagnosed with Down syndrome chose to abort the child.

Rudd says this is the typical type of pressure patients are coming under. He says unless they have strong convictions or do their own research on the problem, patients will bow to the wishes of the doctor and proceed with an abortion — eliminating the opportunity to find out what many families have discovered about Down syndrome children.

“They're every bit as important as any other family member,” Rudd exclaims. “In fact, the family members would say they're that they're probably the most cherished member and the most contributing member to that family.

“Maybe they can't do certain skills, but what they bring to the family in terms of unity and love and caring and kindness — and what they teach that family — is just invaluable.”

According to the CMDA spokesman, many prenatal tests for Down syndrome have a higher rate of misdiagnosis, which raises the question of whether healthy children are being aborted. Even though blood screening tests for Down syndrome are accurate only 60 to 80 percent of the time, the National Association for Down Syndrome remains neutral on whether a woman should have an abortion.

Cybercast News Service quotes a spokeswoman for NADS who says “it is not our place to judge, it is not our place to put pressure on people, it's not our place to try to influence their decision” about an abortion. The organization, Ann Garcia says, is there to “answer the questions [about Down syndrome]” and to “give them accurate, up-to-date info.”

But Garcia acknowledges that some women may indeed choose an abortion based on inaccurate perceptions. “I would advise any family to look at more of the current research,” she says. “It's much more encouraging about the capabilities, life expectancy, what it's like for a child with Down syndrome to grow up now. It is just so much more encouraging.”

Pro-life advocate Jim Sedlak of American Life League tells Cybercast News the world is a better place because of Down syndrome children. “[T]hey bring more love into the world than a normal child just by being who they are,” he says. “If we abort these children, we are going to miss a lot of love in our world.”

(This article courtesy of Agape Press).

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