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Perinatal Hospice: A Compassionate, Life-Affirming Option

by | May 30, 2024

By Michael J. New & Mary Szoch & Jennifer Bauwens

Editor’s note. This ran in March in National Review Online but I just ran across it this morning. It’s an outstanding look at a genuinely compassionate and life-affirming option. I omitted the first paragraph which is outdated.

However, what will receive far less attention [than the State of the Union address and its distortions about pro-life state laws] is the compassionate option of perinatal hospice for pregnant women who receive adverse prenatal diagnoses. Indeed, many women who receive the tragic news that their preborn son or daughter has a life-limiting condition seek the services of perinatal hospice. Perinatal hospices provide both professional counseling and health care. Importantly, they give women the life-affirming option to carry their pregnancies to term.

Our forthcoming Family Research Council study surveyed 82 women who recently obtained services through perinatal hospice. We found that perinatal hospices offered a range of valuable resources to women. These included counseling, sonograms, prayer, support groups, and a birth plan. High percentages of women found each of these services “very helpful.” Overall, 83 percent felt that perinatal hospice was “very supportive” emotionally. Additionally, 67 percent found that perinatal hospice services were “very helpful” in the grieving process.

Disappointingly, our study found that a high percentage of women who received an adverse prenatal diagnosis were advised by medical professionals to obtain an abortion. In many cases, women received this advice repeatedly. Only a relatively small percentage of the time were they encouraged to carry their pregnancy to term. Similarly, only a small percentage of women received information about perinatal hospice from their ob-gyn.

Given that, increasing the awareness of perinatal hospice among policy-makers, health-care professionals, [and] the general public is an important and worthwhile goal for the pro-life movement. It will give women who obtain adverse prenatal diagnoses more options. Furthermore, it will hopefully result in a higher percentage of these women making the life-affirming choice of perinatal hospice for both themselves and their preborn children.

Categories: Hospice