Monday, May 20, 2013

Genetic Testing and Abortion

He Remembers the Barren had a post on this topic today here.

When I was pregnant with Lamb 2, I did the normal tests recommended by my midwife. My blood test for abnormalities like Down's Syndrome came back positive. I was soon scheduled for a Level II ultrasound in the Twin Cities. This meant a 4 hour drive. Of course we took Lamb 1 with us, and at the time he had a broken leg but we didn't know it was broken, but that's a story for another post.

The first thing they did when we arrived at the office for the ultrasound was they sent Ram and I to visit with a genetic counselor. Yes, you read that right, we met with the genetic counselor BEFORE the ultrasound. The genetic counselor was a little frustrated  that Ram has no living siblings and my one sibling was not married at the time. The genetic counselor wanted to base her statistics on our nieces and nephews and if they had any genetic abnormalities. Then she got hung up on the fact that Ram has one first cousin with Down's Syndrome. (Ram has 13 first cousins.) After we finally put up with her whole speech, then we were finally allowed to do the ultrasound.

The ultrasound took a long time. The technician was quiet during the whole ultrasound. Then they sent someone else in to tell us the results. This man was very careful how he worded things so we couldn't sue him. He couldn't be blunt and tell us if there were any signs of Down's Syndrome or not. He did say that they couldn't get very good measurements because Lamb 2 had his hand in a fist and continually was "boxing" so they couldn't measure the hands. But even though he talked with us a long time, he didn't really say more than that.

Both the genetic counselor and the man that explained the results said several times that the only way that we could be sure of genetic disorders was to do an amniocentesis. There was no way I was doing that since the chance of miscarriage after an amniocentesis is higher.

Ram and I said several times during the whole office visit that we were keeping the baby no matter what, that we were there for the ultrasound to be prepared if there was something wrong with our child, and that we were not doing an amniocentesis.

Following the meeting with the man that explained the results of our ultrasound, we were done and left the office. This is where it would make more sense to me to meet with a genetic counselor.

Ram and I both left the office very frustrated. Were we really that abnormal to want to keep our baby no matter what and to wait until birth to know for sure if there was something wrong with our baby?

Unfortunately I read a statistic soon after that ultrasound that about 90% of babies with a positive Down's Syndrome diagnosis after an amniocentesis are aborted. This was 7 years ago and I don't have the source of that statistic nor time to try to look it up. After going through that office visit and it being strongly suggested to do an amniocentesis, I am horrified with that statistic. I wouldn't be surprised if the statistic is even higher 7 years later. I would like to see a statistic of how many of the blood tests turn out to be false negatives like Lamb 2's was.

Lamb 2 was born without Down's Syndrome or any genetic disorders. I would say the whole drive to the Twin Cities and Level II ultrasound were a waste of time and money, but now I'm glad I got the chance to see how the system works.

When I was pregnant with Lamb 3 I refused any extra blood tests that were not required. I refused to go through the same thing as I had with Lamb 2 again. I did do several regular ultrasounds with Lamb 3 as that is where I think they will find something wrong before they would in a blood test.

This is why we need to pray for pregnant women. Medical advances have now made so many more decisions for a woman to make while she is pregnant than women used to have to make. These decisions are not decisions with clear answers. And the medical system is encouraging amniocentesis which could cause a miscarriage and not giving enough information at these kinds of visits to know for sure if the child has a genetic disorder. This has turned into mothers aborting their babies because they don't know.

Pray for your pregnant friends to make good decisions. Pray for your pregnant friends to get good information while they are pregnant. Pray for the medical staff to give good advice to your pregnant friends. Be willing to take the time to listen to your pregnant friends when they have decisions to make about their prenatal care and need to talk about it. Pray for your friends that think they made the wrong decision during a pregnancy to get comfort and forgiveness. Encourage your pregnant friends to read God's Word and put their hope in Christ during this uncertain time.

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.

1 comment:

Karen said...

When I was in my late 30's and pregnant with my last two girls, the screenings for Down's Syndrome were high. Your age is one of the multipliers for the formula, therefore every mid to late 30's child has a high risk of Downs.

The in-depth second ultrasound was also inclusive. We chose to have an amniocentesis in my 8th month. The risk of miss carriage or inducing labor was non-existent at that stage of labor. My ob-gyn explained that there is a huge benefit to knowing in advance if a child has Downs. There are several different stimuli that if done during the first 40 minutes of delivery can increase IQ as much as 20 points.

Great post!