Perinatal Hospice and Lessons from the Past

Judie Brown
January 6, 2011
Reproduced with Permission

ALL's prologue to 2011 focused on the value of human personhood and our obligation to introduce the preborn child to each American, one by one. Only when our nation views the preborn human being as part of the human family from his beginning will we end the killing.

One of the people who inspired me regarding the need to be specific about these preborn babies was a college student by the name of Angela Baird. Angela died in a tragic accident a little more than 13 years ago at the age of 19, but her spirit is with us still. As her family relates on the web site established to keep her memory alive,

As she lie waiting and dying, Angela prayed for two intentions specifically; aborted babies and her dad. She did not complain of the pain, she merely prayed the rosary and to her guardian angel. The students, rescue workers, and medical staff who were with Angela in her last hours all were amazed at her courage and peaceful demeanor, despite the pain from a broken back, pelvis, arm, two legs and massive internal injuries and bleeding.

Just two days ago a reflection about Angela's life came to my "in box" and reads in part, "Lord, may Angela's tireless efforts inspire others to do likewise and persevere in the defense of the unborn. AMEN."

You can imagine how heartened I was then, when I read the next e-mail concerning perinatal hospice. Americans United for Life's (AUL) Bill Saunders suggests that, rather than recommend aborting a baby to a family whose preborn child has been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, medical professionals should be focused on making perinatal hospice services readily available to such parents and their at-risk babies.

Saunders' article reminded me of the perinatal hospice efforts across the land which have existed for a few years now. The message is really quite simple: providing this type of atmosphere for the parents of a dying newborn is giving them the gift of time. Even though is "non judgmental" about aborting that same child, the concept is worthy of our examination. We need a pro-life organization doing it; it is really that simple.

This is something I know Angela would have been thrilled to volunteer for in the time she is said to have always given to doing the Lord's bidding for his children.

When I read about AUL's new Perinatal Hospice Information Act Model Legislation & Policy Guide, there was a wave of joy that permeated by heart. Sadly it turned to heartburn.

I sat down and read the documents carefully. What I found in Section 4 made me wonder where in the world pro-life legislative strategy is going this year. Here is one excerpt from Section 4:

No abortion shall be performed or induced without the voluntary and informed consent of the woman upon whom the abortion is to be performed or induced. Except in the case of a medical emergency, consent to an abortion is voluntary and informed if and only if:

(a) In the case of a woman seeking an abortion of her unborn child diagnosed with a lethal fetal anomaly, at least twenty-four (24) hours before the abortion, the physician who is to perform the abortion or the referring physician has informed the woman, orally and in person, that perinatal hospice services are available and offered this care as an alternative to abortion.

I realize that such language represents crafting proposed legislation that is deemed to be within the parameters of what the United States Supreme Court will allow, but two things disturb me about it nonetheless:

(1) Why do we need pro-life proposals that admit to the liceity of aborting a child?

(2) Why don't we use our talents to work around the Court for a victory that will affirm life rather than admitting to reasons for taking life?

Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia has said that the 1973 Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision is an absurdity! So why pander to the very body that supports that dreadful decision?

Angela Baird teaches us even now that it is never a good idea to affirm the desirability or the legality of a crime against God, against humanity, against reason. I believe with all my heart that we pro-life Americans can do better. We can make a difference and we can turn our nation around only when we stop doing what we think the Supreme Court expects and begin doing what we know God expects.

Lessons from the past frame a pro-life future - if we learn from them.