Every day in America, pregnant women sit in their doctors’ offices, waiting for scan results. These mothers — no matter their age, race, or economic backgrounds — all hope to hear the same news: that their baby is healthy and growing right on track.
Hearing the all-clear, these moms can rejoice and continue with their medical appointments. However, for the women who receive less-clear news — or an outright distressing prenatal diagnosis — an already nerve-racking doctor’s visit can take on a nightmarish quality.
Not only must the mother face the possibility that her baby is in peril, but all too often she is subject to bullying, as the doctor to whom she has entrusted her body and her child attempts to push her toward abortion.
Doctors who pressure women to abort following the prenatal diagnosis are a problem rarely discussed. It was hammered home for me recently when a close friend, who is five months pregnant with a little boy, received a scan that raised some concerns. While she was still on the examination table, partially clothed, abdomen still covered in ultrasound jelly, her doctor brusquely began pressuring her to abort.
After being firmly told that abortion was not an option for her, the doctor continued to push it. We later marveled that, in a post-#MeToo era, a medical professional who primarily serves women could refuse to believe that no means no.
The doctor proceeded to explain it could potentially cost upwards of a million dollars to keep a sick or premature baby in the neonatal intensive care unit for three months. When this argument failed to sway her, he dismissively asked if she were religious.
I wish I could say that this repugnant and deeply misogynistic behavior is an aberration among doctors treating expectant mothers, but sadly, it is not. Since this incident, many friends and family have reached out with similar stories about how they (or a sister or a colleague) were pressured to abort when confronted with a challenging pregnancy.
The data mirrors the disturbing anecdotes: A study in the medical journal Prenatal Testing and Disability Rights found that a quarter of doctors admitted trying to influence a mother’s decision about whether or not to continue with her pregnancy when faced with a tough diagnosis. Most encouraged mothers to terminate….
The above comes from a March 31 commentary piece in the Daily Signal.