Saturday, March 12, 2011

Nebraska "Forced to Watch Baby Die" story looks fishy

Woman Forced To Watch Her Baby Die Because Nebraska Anti-Abortion Law Prohibited Doctor From Acting UPDATE: You can read what a specialist has to say about this story here. The first clue that this is a political piece rather than a news report is the misleading headline, which tries to make it sound like the baby could have been saved if only those nasty anti-abortion people hadn't tied the good doctor's hands. The woman's water broke at 23 weeks. The story presents it as a total no-hope scenario. The baby would be unable to develop the capacity to breathe after birth. But is that really the case when the water breaks early? This woman tells the story of how her water broke at 22 weeks. She did have the outcome the Nebraska story anticipates -- though she managed to hang on to the baby for five more weeks, the lack of amniotic fluid kept the baby's lungs from properly maturing, so the baby died in the NICU. This woman was still in the hospital when she told her story, so we don't have her baby's outcome -- but another woman in the hospital with her had her water break at 19 weeks, and she managed to hang on to 36 weeks. Her baby needed a little extra help but was able to go home at 5 days old. One of the women who responded to the post had her water break at 23 weeks; she held on to just over 25 weeks, and was able to take her baby home -- a baby 11 months old and evidently fine as of the time the mother posted. Another woman who responded said that when her water broke prematurely the amniotic membrane healed up and she went to term. A respondent at a Yahoo! Answers page provided a link to this page, a peer-led support resource for women who have suffered PROM -- Premature Rupture of Membranes. The PROM page notes:
Between countries, hospitals, and doctors treatment or management of PROM are handled differently. Bedrest? Antibiotics? Induction? We are each given different information about our chances for a successful outcome.
They then launch into information for women who have just gotten the PROM diagnosis:
Our first message to you and your family is the most important: Don't give up hope. Your health care team may know little about PROM and may tell you that your baby's chance for survival is so grim that it isn’t worth trying to save him or her. Although we don't know the specifics of your situation, there are many stories on this website of babies who have survived despite PROM. Know that miracles happen.
And now, most salient to our story, these women who have been there and done that list a plethora of options available to women who have suffered PROM. The choices are not as the story implied, kill the baby in-utero or just watch it die. This might be a good time to point out exactly what it involves to deliberately kill a 23-week baby in the womb. The standard approach is to inject drugs directly into the baby's heart to kill her. This method is unacceptable for euthanizing animals. So what the Nebraska law was preventing was one option -- killing the baby in a way that the Humane Society of the United States forbids its shelters from using to kill animals. So let's look again at options for management of PROM that were available, but which either this woman or her doctor rejected in favor of wanting to harpoon the baby in the heart with a gigantic syringe full of poison: Surviving the Unthinkable: "Many PROM list members were initially told that they "should" terminate their pregnancies simply because their health care practitioners believed that their babies' chances of survival were low, and not because the women themselves were showing signs of infection or were in active labor. After examining their options, many of these women ultimately rejected the suggestion that they terminate, and some went on to have healthy babies." And even if this woman had health problems that made continuing the pregnancy too risky, perinatal hospice was another option which could have been made available. So, long story short: This woman's doctor was not forbidden by law to offer this woman help. There were a plethora of options available, many of which could have given her baby a chance of survival. I can't say why the doctor didn't offer these options -- or if he did but the mother chose to ignore them because she wanted the harpoon-the-baby-in-the-heart-with-poison option and was pissed off that she didn't get it. But the point remains that the only option forbidden in this case is one that would have been forbidden by the Humane Society of the United States in dealing with a sick dog. Do we, as a society, have an obligation to help parents to do something to their baby that it's cruel to do to a puppy? Or is it best to remind doctors and women that there are plenty of options available that are humane, compassionate, and decent? Let's go back to the misleading headline. Who is it that forced this mother to watch her baby to die? Not the prolifers, who left a wide variety of options open, including having a perinatal hospice volunteer cuddle the baby during her fifteen minutes of postnatal life, during which she also could have been sedated to make sure she was comfortable. It was somebody with a pro-abortion political agenda that "forced" this woman to watch her baby die. Somebody who rejected the wide variety of compassionate options available to this woman and others like her.


Katie said...

Yeah...that story makes no sense. They wanted to "let nature take it's course" doing a second trimester abortion? I don't mean to sound flippant, but what happened WAS nature taking its course. Her water broke, the baby was born, the baby died. The baby might have lived with medical treatment, but either the hospital has that policy of refusing care to babies born before 24/25 weeks, or the parents refused that care. I really don't see how stabbing the baby in the heart and tearing her apart limb from limb is supposed to be the more humane option. Also, they like to emphasize that the baby died due to lung maturity, yet aren't these the same people that have no problem removing vents from "braindead" babies and adults and letting them suffocate to death? Also, was any palliative care given to the baby? If they were concerned about suffering, morphine could have been used, right? I'm sincerely sorry for the family, but this story is fishy, indeed.

Katie said...

Obviously, that should have been "lung IMmaturity."

Lauren said...

This happened to me during my first pregnancy.

There is SO much they can do for you after your water breaks. Everything from amniofusion to drugs to keep you from going into labor, to steroid shots to help the baby's lungs develop.

My son was born 7 weeks after the rupture. He was very small, but he's now a healthy, happy 5 year old.

This woman CHOSE not to fight for her child.

Christina Dunigan said...

Lauren, we don't know what the doctor might have told her.

Lauren said...

True, but her actions are not those of a woman who was not given all the options by her doctor.

She should be leading the charge against doctors who don't tell their patients that there is a possibility to save their baby. Instead, she's fighting for the "right" to kill her baby.

Sorry, but something just doesn't add up.

Unknown said...

ok, I guess I am confused. Instead of cuddling and loving and having those memories of their baby, they would have rather killed it, been done and gone home with nothing? It seems to me she was looking for an easy out and makes me wonder if she even wanted the baby to begin with. That is very sad. And I can't believe in tis day and age that the baby could not have lived if the parents chose to have something done.

Christina Dunigan said...

I think she wanted a baby, but she wanted a HEALTHY baby.

It reminds me of a book I tried to read, "The Long Dying of Baby Andrew." Like this woman, the woman who wrote the book wanted a baby, but ONLY a HEALTHY one that would fit in with her plans. When she suffered some sort of complication at about 25 weeks, she demanded an immediate abortion on the grounds that she had not PLANNED for pregnancy complications and refused outright to cope with them. The doctors instead tried to save the baby. She bitched the whole time about how they were ruining her plans.

When she went into labor and the baby was born prematurely, she started demanding that they just let the baby die. They instead brought the baby to the NICU, where at every step the mother did everything in her power to demand that the baby be just left to die already. The baby eventually did die, I'm guessing from the title, but I couldn't read the whole thing because I was so filled with hatred for and rage against that selfish woman who was constantly harping about how she didn't WANT a baby in the NICU, how she'd asked for a DEAD baby and how totally pissed off she was at people for refusing every step of the way to just kill the wretched thing and be done with it.

I image that at some point the baby picked up on how much his mother hated him and just died.

pharmer1 said...

The trouble is that with the ACOG telling obstetrician gynecologists that they have to participate or refer for abortion is that we are left with lower and lower quality Ob-Gyns. This woman's doc apparently couldn't spell amnio-infusion, nor betamethasone. I guess they're counting on enough people to not check into the validity of the story for it to sell. My guess is that the decision to kill the kid was based on medical cost containment - or a pre-obamacare death panel. They knew that an early preemie would be expensive to care for, the mom didn't want to see the result of the decision not to treat the condition.

Christina Dunigan said...

Pharm, the motive for wanting to choose abortion can range from simple ignorance (which is inexcusable in a doctor) to any of a number of nefarious motives. USING the story can likewise stem from ignorance (again inexcusable in a public policy activist) to desire to prop up LeRoy Carhart's late abortion business.

Only God can judge the motives, but we can address all possibilities and call for less ignorance and more compassion and responsibility.

Jonathan Stinson said...

GrannyGrump. You missed the entire point of Long Dying of Baby Andrew. I guess you should have finished it. What you didn't know is that the baby was declared brain dead and the pro-life hospital decided that they could not remove the breathing tube. After the tube was finally removed, the hospital charged my parents hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cost of keeping the boy alive, when there was no change of survival. Don't be so cynical and assume that a parent is selfish just because of a traumatic event such as this one. There is a reason this book was required reading at medical schools around the country, including Harvard.

Sammi said...

Granny Grump...I, too, read "The Long Dying of Baby Andrew" (and finished it) and I do not recall seeing the word "abortion" ONCE in that book. The authors went through a Hellish experience, one that cannot be explained away by superstitious nitwits like yourself who declare that this baby must have "picked up on how much his mother hated him and just died." You clearly missed the multiple journal entries on her pumping breast milk for a vegetative fetus in hopes it would help him make it, the agony they endured in trying to get ANY information from doctors (as this was before patient and parental privilege rights) and the destruction that a selfish malevolent religious fanatic hospital placed on their marriage, finances, and lives. Shame on you.

Christina Dunigan said...

Are we even talking about the same book? Jonathan, the woman whose book I read had a daughter. She was royally pissed off that the doctors were screwing up plans for activites with the daughter by blowing off her demands for an abortion. And her pissed-offedness continued when the doctors insisted on treating her baby instead of just waiting for him to die. It was a hateful, loathsome book that made me want to vomit.

And Sami, why would I want to continue reading a book in which a baby is struggling to live, and his mother keeps bitching that people won't just abandon him and let him die of neglect?

Maybe YOU read a book about a mothr who want through a hellish experience trying to help her baby survive. That's not the book I tried to read.