The BBC recently criticized Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The news site said that though there was a recent easing of those restrictions and abortions are now allowed to continue in the state, it has “come too late for many women” – specifically, those women seeking discriminatory abortions for a previously “wanted” baby diagnosed with a health condition prenatally.
Abbott’s decision to suspend abortion services was merely a part of a halt on all non-essential medical services. It was meant to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) and prevent needless exposure to COVID-19. However, the BBC shared the story of a woman going by the pseudonym “Louise” to argue that women should always be able to abort their disabled children.
At fourteen weeks pregnant, Louise, who was thrilled to be pregnant, received the devastating news that one of the twins she was carrying had passed away. She would later learn the remaining twin had a condition known as lethal skeletal dysplasia, and the doctors informed Louise that her surviving child was “incompatible with life.” Louise was told if she continued the pregnancy, the baby would “suffocate upon being born and never be able to draw their first breath.”
It is unclear from the BBC article if Louise underwent the necessary further testing to get an accurate diagnosis of her child’s condition since there are 50 different types of skeletal dysplasia that can be detected prenatally but cannot be specifically diagnosed through ultrasound. Overall there are more than 300 kinds of skeletal dysplasia. According to Elaine Lyon, Ph.D., the same gene can carry a mutation that causes a lethal type of skeletal dysplasias and a mutation that causes a skeletal dysplasia that is not lethal.
Doctors may be quick to recommend abortion in these heartbreaking scenarios, but a study from Duke University found mothers who carry to term after such a diagnosis experience less psychiatric distress than women who abort. Carrying to term allows parents to process their grief as they celebrate their child’s life, create memories, and share a goodbye. In addition, some children are misdiagnosed while in the womb and aborted for a condition they never had.
Louise decided to abort her baby because she felt it would be too painful emotionally for her to continue the pregnancy. She and her husband drove to New Mexico for the abortion since that state had not issued any bans. While the BBC treated Louise’s tragic circumstances as a situation where abortion seemed medically necessary, the outlet failed to acknowledge that Louise and her husband chose to pursue abortion after learning about their baby’s diagnosis. It was an elective procedure.
Abortionist Eve Espey, whose own patient suffered bilateral tubal litigation and was “unresponsive” when an emergency call was placed, was quoted in the BBC’s article, accusing “anti-abortion activists” of exploiting a pandemic for political purposes. But over 30,000 doctors concur that abortion is never medically necessary and that continuing abortions during an pandemic is “irresponsible.”
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