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Parents receiving a fetal disability diagnosis deserve hope and support

abortion, born alive, ireland

A recent Reuters article told the story of an anonymous 29-year-old Polish woman impacted by Poland’s recent ban on abortions for cases of fetal abnormality. The woman, referred to as Paulina, learned at an unspecified point in her pregnancy that her preborn child did not have kidneys and would be unlikely to survive after birth. The distraught mother was quoted as saying, “Everyone says that the reward after the pain of birth is holding your child in your hands. I would have nothing. I would give birth to a dead child, and that pain would be a thousand times worse.”

Eventually, Paulina found several healthcare professionals who, instead of equipping her with counseling and resources and support, were willing to assert that the fetal diagnosis was causing such a deterioration in her mental health as to qualify her for the “life of the mother” exception to Poland’s abortion ban. Sadly, she went through with the abortion.

Abortion is not a ‘treatment’

While abortion might seem to “stop the bleeding” by ending a pregnancy and seemingly also ending the emotional pain associated with the loss of a child before or shortly after birth, abortion is not a “treatment” for fetal abnormality.

Research suggests that women who choose to abort in such cases have worse mental health outcomes than those who carry their pregnancies to term. This makes sense, as abortions for cases of fetal diagnosis are inherently discriminatory and eugenicist, penalizing the weak and the sick. These discriminatory abortions strike at the heart of the natural bond of love and protection that grows between a mother and her preborn child, severing that connection.

The false dichotomy

The Reuters article mistakenly posited that Paulina had only two options after receiving a poor prenatal diagnosis: either choose to carry the pregnancy, soldiering on alone and emotionally broken, or have an abortion and presumably stop the emotional pain.

But this dichotomy is false, because abortion does not magically resolve the emotional pain of receiving an adverse fetal diagnosis, and in fact compounds that pain with the memory of permitting an act of violence against the defenseless preborn person. From a physical health and safety perspective, women often do not learn of fetal abnormalities until their second-trimester, when morbidity and mortality rates from abortion increase dramatically.

Furthermore, women like Paulina need not soldier on alone through a challenging pregnancy.

READ: Aborting a child for a poor prenatal diagnosis is discrimination, and it helps no one

As Live Action News has previously reported, many life-affirming options such as perinatal hospices exist in Poland to help women bond with their preborn children, walking alongside them every step of the way, ensuring that they feel supported, not alone. Women who bear the heavy emotional burden of receiving such challenging news deserve to have full information about their baby’s diagnosis, treatment options, and resources for emotional, material, and financial support. Often, they are given little or incomplete information and instead are encouraged or even pressured to abort their sick children.

Instead, parents deserve to be surrounded with love and buoyed by hope.

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