A couple are furious that they were put under repeated pressure by doctors at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to abort their baby as the baby was supposed to have holoprosencenphaly and doctors said he wouldn’t survive for longer than an hour, but the diagnosis was completely wrong and their son, Harry, is now 15 months old and is learning to walk. The story was reported in the Daily Mail, “Baby defies doctors who says he’ll be deformed” and previously the Evening Standard in Norwich “The baby I was advised to abort” . The story is horrifying on every level – not only that the parents were put under pressure to abort, and doctors gave them dud information, that babies with disabilities are considered better off dead, but most of all it is horrifying because of the crude pro-abortion mentality, where termination of the child is considered preferable to sustaining the baby and hoping and trying every possible means to save the child’s life using the best medical methods available. In the last two weeks there are two particular causes of hope.
Only a few days ago, scientists reported that they had discovered a way to use stem cells found in the amniotic fluid to treat babies either during pregnancy or after birth and correct congenital diseases. It was reported to the American Academy of Pediatrics meeting in Washington and are seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration to carry out clinical trials and could be applicable to conditions like spina bifida. (see CORE Spina bifida may be cured using amniotic stem cells
Only a couple of weeks ago, Newsweek did a feature length article about surgery on an unborn child who had hypoplastic left heart syndrome by doctors at Children's Hospital Boston
The child was born completely free of the condition is now a healthy little one year old. This is obviously a different condition from the baby in Norwich who was nearly aborted, but the pattern is the same – applying knowledge and perfecting medical practice till it becomes common practice because doctors do their best for their patients and develop techniques which save lives.
As Newsweek points out, “Thirty years ago, babies diagnosed with HLHS were doomed to die within the first days to weeks of life. Today, thanks to earlier detection through ultrasound and postnatal surgery, the majority of the 1,500-plus HLHS babies born every year now survive; the oldest are in their early 20s.” Fetal surgery is obviously difficult and involves two patients – the mother and the child – but it is a sophisticated medicine that treats the baby appropriately as a patient rather than terminating life. At the very least diagnosis of a condition during pregnancy should enable forward planning so doctors can treat the child immediately after birth by assembling a team of experts, including obstetricians, pediatric cardiologists and cardiac surgeons to collaborate on the best treatment for the newborn child. What a far cry from the collaboration to terminate life! Using the most sophistocated techniques to diagnose and treat the sick is surely the only acceptable medical approach.