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Perinatal Hospice and the baby born dying

by | Mar 6, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

Surrogate Crystal Kelley turned down $10,000 to abort baby with severe problems

Surrogate Crystal Kelley turned down $10,000 to abort baby with severe problems

It was absolutely no surprise that a ton of people commented on a story we ran yesterday, “Surrogate turns down offer of $10,000 to abort baby diagnosed with major medical problems”.

The story, although it ended well (the surrogate refused to be bribed or coerced into aborting “Baby S.”), had so many twists and turns along the way that, when straightened out, it seemed as if the only possible destination would be the death of the unborn child. If EVER there was a case of life being stranger than fiction, this qualifies.

Those who criticized the surrogate, Crystal Kelley, did so for a variety of reasons but most often on two inter-related grounds. First, because (in their opinion) Kelley had “interfered” with the biological parents “right” to do with the child as they saw fit. (Plus there was a clause in the contract with language about abortion under certain circumstances which was unenforceable.)

Second, it was clear that the baby would have major medical problems, which proved to be true when Baby S. was born. She may live only a relatively short time. Therefore it would have been in everyone’s interest, including especially the child’s, to abort the baby—or so the argument went.

This reminded me of a workshop my wife attended at last year’s National Right to Life convention about which she had raved but which I had never listened to on the CDs NRLC makes available–“The Tepeyac Family Center’s Kristen Anderson Perinatal Hospice: A Medical, Family, and Spiritual Journey.” So I listened to the CD on the way in this morning, and I am so glad I did.

We are also running today, “A hospice in the womb: When prenatal diagnosis brings bad news about their child, parents deserve a real choice of paths. Happily, there is a beautiful option available” by Carolyn Moynihan. When you read it, you will have an excellent overview of the ideas behind perinatal hospice.

In a word, it’s built around just about the most difficult situation you can imagine: your unborn child has been diagnosed with a terminal disease. At best, you will likely have no more than a day or two with him or her.

In our abortion-ridden culture, the first impulse is to abort. But even people whose default position is not to “solve” the “problem” by eliminating the source (the baby) ask what is the point? The baby is going to “die anyway,” and may die in utero.

The workshop at NRLC 2012 addressed this dilemma from the perspectives of a doctor, a mother whose child lived only briefly after birth, and a Catholic priest. The answers are not easy or simple, but neither is life in general, nor this terrible tragedy in particular.

There are lots of ways to address why you don’t abort the baby, starting with confronting the understandable but mistaken idea that abortion will be “easier” on the mother than carrying the baby to term. But perhaps no one ever addressed the “why?” question better than Amy Kuebelbeck, author of “Waiting with Gabriel,” a book about her own experience with her son who had a fatal form of hypoplastic left heart.

She wrote, “I know that some people assume that continuing a pregnancy with a baby who will die is all for nothing.  But it isn’t all for nothing. Parents can wait with their baby, protect their baby, and love their baby for as long as that baby is able to live.  They can give that baby a peaceful life – and a peaceful goodbye.  That’s not nothing.  That is a gift.”

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Categories: Hospice