The Prenatal Screening Debate

I was outraged this week when I heard a news story about Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s opposition to prenatal testing.

I saw a story Tuesday morning on the Today show that said he was opposed to the portion of Obama’s health care law that would require free prenatal screening to insured individuals. His reason for opposition? That screening would lead to more abortions.

Excuse me? As a mother of a stillborn baby who is now pregnant again, knowledge is power. I want to know everything I can about my unborn son. Just ask the ultra sound technician I had last week. She was annoyed by never ending questions  — specifically those about my unborn son’s umbilical cord.

I understand that there may be others who don’t share my opinion. That there may be some tragic cases where a mother hears the results of her prenatal screenings and determines to terminate her fetus. But opposing a healthcare plan that requires those services be free of charge is ridiculous.

A CBS article states that Santorum said he was specifically talking about amniocentesis when discussing his oppositions to prenatal testing.

I would like to think that all forms of prenatal screening enable doctors and staff to know how to aid in the delivery of babies with special needs.

I would like to think that prenatal screening would allow a mother to prepare mentally and physically, before delivery, for a baby that will require special attention.

At first I gave Santorum the benefit of the doubt, thinking he didn’t know what it was like to lose a baby. Then I stumbled across an article that said his wife delivered one of their sons at 20 weeks. That little baby lived only 2 hours.

Santorum and his wife were alerted early on in the pregnancy that something was wrong and that the fetus would not live long.  Would he have rather not known that something was wrong with his unborn child, but find out suddenly when his wife went into premature labor?

No prenatal screenings could have told me that my baby would die at 37 weeks. And yet I wish they could have. Maybe that would have given me time to wrap my mind around carrying an angel. Maybe I would have lied in bed with my hands on my bare belly when he was active at night just so I could feel as close as possible to my unborn, living Luca.

I read an article recently of a family that found out their unborn baby would not live. They chose to help it “live” the best they could while it was in the womb. I love that article and their inspiring attitude. (

I wish I would have made an effort to help Luca “live.” I guess we should never take any life for granted, no matter how short — and regardless of our prenatal screening results.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Lindsay Beardall
    Feb 23, 2012 @ 17:42:39

    I totally agree with you, Natalie. I appreciate that you are willing to share your insights and experiences.


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