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New Study Fuels Controversy Over Down Syndrome Abortions

By Marc Morano Senior Staff Writer
April 05, 2005

( - A new study is fueling the debate surrounding the abortion of babies thought to have Down syndrome and other birth defects.

The study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology shows that many pregnant women receive only negative information from medical professionals when a prenatal diagnosis reveals a potential for giving birth to a baby with Down syndrome.

The study is being billed by the Harvard University Gazette as "the largest and most comprehensive study on prenatally diagnosed Down syndrome to date."

Among the examples noted in the report was an expectant mother who spoke of a medical professional who "showed a really pitiful video, first of people with Down syndrome who were very low tone and lethargic-looking, and then proceeded to tell us [in 1999] that our child would never be able to read, write or count change."

The study also found that expectant mothers were often not counseled by medical personnel regarding the latest information on Down syndrome or given any contact information about parent support groups during the emotional period when many women decide whether to seek an abortion.

While the live birth rate of babies afflicted with Down syndrome has remained steady in recent years, studies have shown the abortion rate of Down syndrome babies is estimated at 80 to 90 percent when prenatal screening reveals the possibility or probability for the condition.

The situation is compounded by the fact that some of the prenatal Down syndrome testing is wrong 20 to 40 percent of the time, raising the question of whether healthy unborn children are being aborted.

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