Ultrasound Use as Late Abortions Skyrocket

Ultrasound Machine in use

Because late abortions have doubled since the government began offering ultrasound screenings to pregnant women at 20 weeks, some Dutch lawmakers are hoping to change the standard use of the tool, according to the Dutch daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad.

Gynecologist Hajo Wildschut told the paper that many women decide to abort their child after the 20-week ultrasound because it is at that stage that defects such as Down syndrome and spina bifida can be observed.  That leaves women four weeks to decide whether to have the child killed before the legal cutoff for abortion at 24 weeks.

The Dutch government introduced the 20-week ultrasound for all pregnant women in 2007.  Since then, the number of abortions between weeks 20 and 24 have doubled, according to data published by the Netherlands Health Care Inspectorate Thursday.

"Most of these children are wanted," said Wildschut. "But then the pregnancy takes such a tragic turn. The parents are struggling terribly with the questions: can we raise a child who has spina bifida or Down syndrome? Can we live with the decision of ending this pregnancy?"

Some lawmakers are pushing to delay the ultrasound: members of parliament with the pro-life Christian party, ChristenUnie, want to postpone the official ultrasound to the 24th week.

"The life of a person with disabilities is a valuable life," ChristenUnie MP Esmé Wiegman said last Tuesday.  "We should be able to count on a careful approach when the life of an unborn child with a disability is involved."

If her proposal to move the ultrasound fails to get support, Wiegman said she would work to cap legal abortion at 18 weeks.

Experts have also concluded that the ultrasound was one reason there were no reports of euthanizing newborn babies in 2008, as children who would have been euthanized for severe birth defects instead were killed in the womb. The euthanasia of newborn infants is permitted in the Netherlands under certain conditions set forth in the so-called Groningen Protocol. 

Some have also complained that the ultrasound was leading parents to kill children with minor defects, such as cleft lip, that could be corrected with a just few surgeries.

"We explain the child can be helped by undergoing three or four operations. And we will supervise the child for years, watch it grow up. We will never tell the mother: ‘this life is not worth it,'" said Marjan Nijhuis-Kloen, a nurse and cleft lip expert at a hospital in Nijmegen.

Kathleen Gilbert
Source: LifeSiteNews.com
Publish Date:
February 15, 2010
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The IFRL is the largest grassroots pro-life organization in Illinois. A non-profit organization, that serves as the state coordinating body for local pro-life chapters representing thousands of Illinois citizens working to restore respect for all human life in our society. The IFRL is composed of people of different political persuasions, various faiths and diverse economic, social and ethnic backgrounds. Since 1973 the Illinois Federation for Right to Life has been working to end abortion and restore legal protection to those members of the human family who are threatened by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. Diverse though we are, we hold one common belief - that every human being has an inalienable right to life that is precious and must be protected. IFRL is dedicated to restoring the right to life to the unborn, and protection for the disabled and the elderly.   Click here to learn more about the IFRL.