Monday, February 05, 2007

How often are abortions done for a false prenatal diagnosis?

Somebody found my blog after searching for, "How many find out after abortion their was nothing wrong with the baby".

I'm more at home giving anecdotal evidence, such as these excerpts from the stories on the Be Not Afraid site. Then there's this story by a woman who was falsely told her baby had died in-utero.

Midtown Hospital, a National Abortion Federation member, got caught performing abortions for fetal indications without confirming the diagnoses. In many cases, pathology exams revealed that there had been nothing wrong with these fetuses.

Then there is the tragic case of Allegra Roseberry, who was lied two on two counts:
1. She'd been told that her pregnancy would disqualify her from an experimental cancer treatment program, even though the protocol had no exclusions for pregnancy.
2. She'd been told that her previous cancer treatments had "doomed" her baby.
After the abortion killed Allegra, her husband had an autopsy done on the baby and found out that she'd been perfectly normal.

Marla Cardamone was told that her medication had caused her baby to be deformed, even though the ultrasound, which her mother obtained after her death, showed no abnormalities at all.

See:
  • Fetal Diagnoses Leading to Unnecessary Abortions
  • The Doctors are Often Wrong

    Does anybody have any studies on the frequency of false diagnoses and/or misdiagnoses leading to abortions the women never would have submitted to had she been give accurate information?

    UPDTATE: Katy added some great links in the Comments, which I'm adding to the post to make them easier to find:

    This study in a Pedi. Heart journal talked about prenatal diagnosis of specific heart ailments; 19 out of 61 babies were aborted. In 9 of those cases, the autopsy confirmed the presence of the anomaly, and 1 did not have *that* anomaly, but did have another problem; the remaining dead fetuses were not autopsied. In discussing the difficulties surrounding the diagnosis (gestational age and fetal position, primarily), they gave an 80% accuracy of diagnosis. Some of the remaining 20% may have had some anomaly but not that particular one; but then, they possibly were not as bad as thought.

    This European study (of which only the abstract is available free) has this tidbit which showed up on Google: "Among these misdiagnoses only 1 had a termination of pregnancy..." I wish I had access to see how many misdiagnoses there were, and how many women would have had an abortion.

    This abstract says, "Excluding five cases with a secundum atrial septal defect, there was complete agreement between the ultrasound examination and the autopsy findings in 74 (73%) of 101 cases. In 18 cases, there were minor discrepancies between ultrasound and autopsy findings. The main diagnosis was thus correct in 92 cases (91%)." It doesn't say for certain that the other 9% of dead babies had a defect worthy of death.

    This study (only the abstract is free, but you could purchase the full article), concludes, "Diagnostic accuracy has improved over time but may well be lower than many clinicians assume for some important conditions and may not match public expectations."

    I perceive part of the problem of determining this question is a lack of study into it -- after all, what doctor who performs abortions wants to find out that he gave an incorrect diagnosis and killed a perfectly healthy baby? or who wants word to leak out that accuracy of ultrasound or other prenatal tests are not what one might expect? One BMJ article said that while abortions for suspected fetal anomaly have increased, autopsies have decreased (they suggested autopsies, to find out the likelihood of fetal anomaly reoccurring in a subsequent pregnancy, rather than as a way of verifying the original diagnosis). I would suspect that there has been improvement in the area of diagnosis since many of these studies were carried out, so what was true 10 years ago, may not be true now. However, if an abortionist talks a woman into an abortion because he says he thinks there's something wrong with her baby (like Dr. Tiller), the desire for fetal death outweighs the desire for accuracy. I would place higher faith in the average OB who truly wants an accurate diagnosis, than in a pro-abortion doctor.

    So, in clinical studies, the rate of accuracy of ultrasound (which would typically be done by specialists, I assume, prior to termination -- or at least a second opinion) may be much higher than that which would be done in an abortion clinic or even a regular OB's office.
  • 7 comments:

    Lauren said...

    I don't know of a study (though I'll go on a hunt)but I was given several prenatal diagnosises that turned out false. Abortion was sold as the sensible option. Thank goodness I didn't listen!

    GrannyGrump said...

    I excluded the cases I had where the woman was given phony, misdiagnosed, or exaggerated maternal indications. That's a whole nother can of worms.

    monica said...

    Hmmm, I don't know really how to get the information ... what exactly to look at. I sometimes look around for info about accuracy of diagnosis after termination autopsies. I did find some authors calling for more autopsies after termination, which is alarming in itself . . . that's the kind of thing that makes me think it would be difficult to find out how many were done due to bad diagnostics/interpretations.

    It's even harder to know who would not have aborted . . . we have to assume that many women wouldn't have . . . and that's why it's important to keep plugging along trying to reach anyone who who is open to it.

    GrannyGrump said...

    Ya know, maybe if the CDC tracked this instead of marketing data, they'd be gathering information that would actually be useful for formulating public policy.

    Kathy said...

    Here are a couple that I found (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/102520315/abstract): 77% of brain defects seen on ultrasound were confirmed by autopsy; they didn't say for sure whether the remaining 14 babies had any defect "worthy" of death.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/mc2h4yd1e0jjet7a/
    mentions post-abortion autopsies that were done because of ultrasound diagnosis, and mentions "false positive" as well as "false negative." I'm assuming that the fetuses labeled "false positive" were killed and then ultimately they did not actually have the dreaded defect.

    I read something several weeks ago but unfortunately did not save it, that said that post-abortion autopsies showed that a high percentage (something like 99% or above) of babies killed because of suspected defect did have some defect, although not all of them had the defect diagnosed by the prenatal testing. I'll keep trying to find it....

    GrannyGrump said...

    I'll turn those into links:

    77% confirmed

    False positives

    Thanx!

    Kathy said...

    This study in a Pedi. Heart journal talked about prenatal diagnosis of specific heart ailments; 19 out of 61 babies were aborted. In 9 of those cases, the autopsy confirmed the presence of the anomaly, and 1 did not have *that* anomaly, but did have another problem; the remaining dead fetuses were not autopsied. In discussing the difficulties surrounding the diagnosis (gestational age and fetal position, primarily), they gave an 80% accuracy of diagnosis. Some of the remaining 20% may have had some anomaly but not that particular one; but then, they possibly were not as bad as thought.

    This European study (of which only the abstract is available free) has this tidbit which showed up on Google: "Among these misdiagnoses only 1 had a termination of pregnancy..." I wish I had access to see how many misdiagnoses there were, and how many women would have had an abortion.

    This abstract says, "Excluding five cases with a secundum atrial septal defect, there was complete agreement between the ultrasound examination and the autopsy findings in 74 (73%) of 101 cases. In 18 cases, there were minor discrepancies between ultrasound and autopsy findings. The main diagnosis was thus correct in 92 cases (91%)." It doesn't say for certain that the other 9% of dead babies had a defect worthy of death.

    This study (only the abstract is free, but you could purchase the full article), concludes, "Diagnostic accuracy has improved over time but may well be lower than many clinicians assume for some important conditions and may not match public expectations."

    I perceive part of the problem of determining this question is a lack of study into it -- after all, what doctor who performs abortions wants to find out that he gave an incorrect diagnosis and killed a perfectly healthy baby? or who wants word to leak out that accuracy of ultrasound or other prenatal tests are not what one might expect? One BMJ article said that while abortions for suspected fetal anomaly have increased, autopsies have decreased (they suggested autopsies, to find out the likelihood of fetal anomaly reoccurring in a subsequent pregnancy, rather than as a way of verifying the original diagnosis). I would suspect that there has been improvement in the area of diagnosis since many of these studies were carried out, so what was true 10 years ago, may not be true now. However, if an abortionist talks a woman into an abortion because he says he thinks there's something wrong with her baby (like Dr. Tiller), the desire for fetal death outweighs the desire for accuracy. I would place higher faith in the average OB who truly wants an accurate diagnosis, than in a pro-abortion doctor.

    So, in clinical studies, the rate of accuracy of ultrasound (which would typically be done by specialists, I assume, prior to termination -- or at least a second opinion) may be much higher than that which would be done in an abortion clinic or even a regular OB's office.