WHY RICK SANTORUM IS WRONG ABOUT PRENATAL TESTING

(In this piece you will see how such testing could have affected my life.)

Among other outrageous statements he has made, a few days ago Rick Santorum spoke out about his opposition to prenatal testing of women, particularly the process of amniocentesis, since in the vast majority of cases it leads to the woman having an abortion if abnormalities are found.

Here is a video of him saying that on Face The Nation this past Sunday morning.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/santorum-on-prenatal-testing-356/2012/02/19/gIQAls0mNR_video.html

This is much bullshit from him as are many of his other pronouncements. The fact is, amniocentesis can inform a woman, and her partner, of potential problems with her pregnancy and enable life saving procedures to be utilized.

I will present you with the tale of one such mother who was tested and received a warning that the daughter she was carrying had the Rh factor and a stillbirth was possible or, if the baby survived, she could face physical and mental disabilities.

Treatment and monitoring was instituted and the baby was delivered at the optimal, though premature, time when it could survive outside the womb. The little girl was given the care needed and is today a healthy active 11 year old.

http://www.salon.com/2012/02/21/santorum_amnio_open2012/

If you are not familiar with Rh disease here is an explanation of it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rh_disease

Here are some excerpts from the woman’s story.

And if I hadn’t had an amniocentesis, she would have died the day she was born.

She is rather pointed about her feelings on a politician’s role in this issue.

Rather than turning to my local politician for prenatal advice, I followed the guidance of my obstetrician, who sent me to a perinatologist, who recommended I have an amniocentesis. Because he had a medical degree and years of experience treating pregnant women, I followed his recommendation.

Here is the description of how the baby was received by her loving parents.

Ella was born four weeks premature, a tiny 5-pound bag of bones, with bright yellow hair and eerily orange skin from the jaundice. Within hours of her birth she was given a full blood transfusion – they replaced every single drop of her damaged blood with new blood that would save her life. Then she spent the next five days in the NICU with cotton blinders taped over her eyes and five bilirubin lights shining on her to reduce the jaundice, while my husband and I took turns sitting at her side round the clock, watching her struggle to survive.

One reason I found this tale so poignant was that I was an Rh baby. I was born in 1947 when amniocentesis was still in its infancy and not used for pregnant women on a regular basis.

The details of my infancy are not known personally and my parents are long gone and not available to ask. Suffice it to say that the relatively little information I received as a child was enough to realize I was lucky to be alive. I know I had complete blood transfusions and I still bear the scars where the needles went in.

I grew up pretty healthy and exhibited none of the traits of possible damage such as mental damage (though some political opponents might beg to disagree).

At the age of 25 I was reminded of just how precarious my initial situation was. My father died in August of 1972 and was laid out at Kepner’s Funeral Home in Wheeling. My Aunt Mary Ellen (dad’s sister) and I were greeting visitors who had come to offer condolences.

An elderly woman, apparently an old old family friend, spoke to Mary Ellen with the usual words of comfort. Then she asked “Didn’t he have that baby that was so sickly? Did the child survive?” Mary Ellen then introduced her to me, standing nearby. The answer was apparent as the lady looked at my 6 foot  200 pound body. Yes, I survived and was quite robust.

I do not have nor will I seek out statistics to demonstrate how many or how few cases of using amniocentesis leading to abortion there are. They exist, of that I am certain. But so do the number of cases of lives saved due to amniocentesis.

It is entirely wrong for Santorum to oppose prenatal testing, amniocentesis and other procedures, for fear the woman may decide on an abortion. She may also decide, along with her doctors, on a course to follow to ensure the healthiest baby and mother possible and spare a family the trauma and heartache that could result if problems are undetected.

I know my parents suffered a lot due to my post-natal difficulties. If testing had been done then, they might have been spared the worst of that.

Sadly for Santorum and his wife and family they lost a baby just after birth, so he is aware of this heartache. That he would chance having the same visited upon other couples due to his position is inexplicable.

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