Choosing life when you receive a difficult prenatal diagnosis
In her book Perfectly Human: Nine months with Cerian, Sarah C. Williams writes about her experience carrying a child with a fatal medical condition. In an article featured in The Plough magazine, she also addresses concerns regarding the practice of prenatal screening when it is used to eliminate by abortion those babies deemed unworthy of life because of a disability. While abortion is often presented as a choice, parents receiving a difficult prenatal diagnosis have recounted how they felt pressured to abort their child.
Sarah William writes in The Plough:
“The ultrasound technician put her hand on my arm and said the words every expectant mother hopes she will never hear: “I’m afraid there is something wrong with the baby. Within an hour, it was clear that a skeletal dysplasia would claim my daughter’s life either at birth or shortly after. It was also clear that everyone expected me to have a termination”.
Later she continues:
“For my family the consequence of prenatal screening was an unbearable choice. When presented with information we never imagined we would face, we were forced to choose. But we discovered that although a termination was presented in the language of choice, it was the only recommended medical option. Hospital budgets were weighted towards fertility technology, not obstetric care for high-risk pregnancies. When I chose to carry my baby to term, the quality of my subsequent care was adversely affected by institutional policies that anticipated a certain parental choice and no other. I encountered a system shaped by a certain kind of expectation.’
She comments on the very real consequences of prenatal screening on society:
“Prenatal screening practices reflect – but also shape – our perceptions of what it means to be human. By making personhood contingent upon the majority definition of normality, these practices undermine the core values on which our civil society depends – the fundamental dignity and equality of all persons. “
From : The hidden costs of prenatal screening : Testing for fetal abnormalities is not a neutral practice. It sends a message.