By Chris Gast, Right to Life of Michigan Education Coordinator
Imagine this scenario. Complaining of serious symptoms, you go to your doctor. The doctor says you may have incurable cancer and only months to live. He immediately starts speaking about hospice care—or even assisted suicide. He lets you go on your way with no follow-up, and never mentions to you that there’s an 85% chance the test was wrong and you are otherwise healthy.
Is that good medicine? Who would possibly agree it is? Yet that scenario is one routinely happening when a pregnant mother receives news that her unborn child may have a serious disability.
On January 1, the New York Times ran an exposé on the extremely high inaccuracy rate for several common prenatal screening tests. The article was rather surprising, given the Times’ extreme pro-abortion bent.
There’s nothing wrong with a prenatal test in of itself. However, one could say the same of opioids, which are remarkable in both their ability to ease pain but also cause life expectancy in America to decline.
Prenatal tests are ostensibly designed to help parents prepare and find the best treatment path forward for their children. However, in the hands of a culture and medical establishment being constantly assailed by the industry of death, prenatal tests are used to conduct search and destroy missions with disabled children as the primary target. Abortion rates for many disabilities are extremely high. Even disabilities that are generally correctable like club feet or cleft palettes find themselves as reasons for taking the life of an unborn baby.
How should these particular screening tests be used responsibly? Doctors should be upfront about their low accuracy rate, explaining they are a simple way to determine if more invasive testing is warranted. However, as the New York Times reports, the companies developing these tests sell them as “highly accurate.” In no universe can an 85% failure rate be considered anything but a failure itself.
We have heard many stories from parents who were misled by prenatal testing. That includes even the supposedly more accurate tests the New York Times’ article references, like screening for children with Down syndrome. We feature several of these real life stories on our website, RTL.org.
These stories share one thing in common: how the test results were shared with parents. Instead of an explanation that the tests may be wrong, or information about a positive path forward for their possibly sick child, the doctor or a genetic counselor will immediately initiate a discussion about “all options available.” Abortion is implied or even expressly advocated. Instead of accurate information about the condition, horror stories and worst case scenarios are emphasized.
Some of these stories do end with the child having the disease in question, but many also end with a healthy child. In those cases, it was likely the child never had a single health issue. Even today’s high-quality ultrasound machines are not perfect diagnostic tools.
For years, Right to Life of Michigan has advocated for legislation to respond to these situations. A “prenatally-diagnosed conditions awareness act” would require doctors to give women accurate information, rather than just descriptions of worst-case scenarios, referrals to genetic counselors, or vague suggestions about scheduling an abortion. The state would be required to create a website with medically accurate information about prenatal conditions, support group information for parents, and perinatal hospice programs in case the condition is fatal.
Currently, the Women’s Right to Know Act is sitting on the floor of the Michigan House. A portion of it includes our “prenatally-diagnosed conditions awareness act.”
We believe a disabled child has as much value and right to live as a “healthy” child, but this revelation should make us all ask this question: how many healthy children have been killed because a test was wrong?
A culture that pretends these tests are accurate and continues encouraging the deaths of thousands of children based on them is guilty of extreme negligence.