Perinatal Hospice: what will really happen here?

Ron Panzer
Jan 7, 2011
Reproduced with Permission

There was an article at entitled, "Give Parents Perinatal Hospice Option Instead of Abortion" by Bill Saunders - Washington, DC - - 1/4/11

The writer, Bill Saunders, is promoting the use of perinatal hospice when a baby is diagnosed with a terminal illness, as an alternative to ending the life of the baby through abortion. Giving birth to the baby and then being able to hold and love the baby allows for the parents to express their love for the baby in a positive way.

Giving birth to the baby and seeing how the baby does while giving all needed treatments and nourishment would be the expected choice for those who value the life of the baby. However, if one gives birth to the baby and then withholds food and fluids, and most likely terminally-sedate the baby, one is imposing death, just the same as is done with some elderly and severely disabled in hospice.

I am certain that the ability to use hospice for the newborn will be misused to end the lives of some babies who are not truly "terminal," but have congenital defects or chromosomal abnormalities/differences in the manner of pure eugenics. What is to stop "perinatal hospice" from being used to end the lives of say, Downs syndrome babies? The public (the parents) may "feel better" because they get to hold their baby for a while and love it, while its life is being ended "peacefully" as it sleeps to death.

What's to stop terminal sedation from being applied here again? I have grave reservations about this because I know the hospice industry and how they think. They want to expand their business, make more money, and cutting into the abortion industry is a great end-run around, not the abortion industry, but the prolifers who object to abortion.

Just as hospice itself has been infiltrated by the culture of death, thereby making an end-run around prolifers who thought it was the alternative to euthanasia... this peri natal hospice will again be used to give prolifers an option that appears to fit with their belief system, but which then hastens death anyway.

"USE PERINATAL HOSPICE" we will be told by prolife leaders, and babies will be killed who could have lived if they had been cared for and provided nourishment and fluids. How many Down Syndrome babies will end up in perinatal hospice and never live the life given to them?

We have Special Olympics for those with developmental disorders and applaud them for their achievements, yet at the same time, society tells us these young adults and children should never have been born. What a contradiction! Either their lives are valuable or not. And if not, then why is everyone applauding the wonderful achievements of those who participate in the Special Olympics?

Babies who enter peri-natal hospice are not going to get feedings and fluid to any significant degree. I imagine some may even get an intravenous solution to make it appear they are getting fluids, but have it running at a rate of 20-30 cc/hr at a "keep-open" rate, but does nothing substantial to keep up the fluid volume necessary to maintain life.

So what is happening? They are being hastened to death in a way that gives the appearance of compassion, which is the same deception used for elders who are being terminally-sedated. Instead of trying to care for them in a hospital neonatal ward, they are sent over to perinatal hospice for death. Will there be some who might have actually lived? If the babies are enrolled in perinatal hospice, one will never know.

Of course, there are newborns who are not viable long term and may die, but how many of the babies born fit into this strict category? I imagine the number to be very, very small. It is certain that many more will be put into perinatal hospice to end their lives, but allow the parents to think they were humane by "doing it the compassionate way." My gut just tells me this is going to be misused, even if it could be good if done in a truly life-affirming way, where nourishment is provided and an opportunity given for the baby to live.

When is the decision not to treat the baby made? Who makes that decision? What decisions will they make? and on what ethical basis will they make that decision? There are too many steps where a viable baby can be shunted into perinatal hospice, for the equivalent of an abortion at full-term. This may turn out to be just another way of eliminating the unwanted, without giving them a chance for life.