When a Pregnancy Test Shows Down Syndrome
By Trudy Johnson
Having a baby is a wonderful family event. But an adverse pregnancy diagnosis can create a crisis for parents. Prenatal testing is routine today and, often, Down syndrome babies are targets for elimination. Much Down syndrome research is done for one end only: abortion.
My work for Crisis Pregnancy Ministry at Focus on the Family began in March of 1997. In most adverse pregnancy diagnosis, doctors recommend abortion to the distraught parents. Once again, from a medical standpoint, the cure for Down syndrome babies is abortion.
Two weeks into my job at the Crisis Pregnancy Ministry, I received a call from a distraught relative of a couple who were at that moment driving to a hospital to have their Down syndrome baby aborted. The grandmother gave me the fax number to the emergency room and pleaded with me, "Please, as a last ditch effort, fax information to them to make them change their minds!"
I scrambled through files to see what information we had on Down syndrome. In a tattered folder I found bits of newspaper articles, pieces of information on Down syndrome and an old copy of a Citizen magazine article. I threw in pictures of fetal development and made copies of it all. Within 30 minutes I faxed 15 pages to an emergency room somewhere in New York. Two days later, the grandmother called. The couple got the information, read it and walked out of the hospital, choosing life for their baby. Time passed and I received a letter from the same grandmother. In it were pictures of her perfectly healthy, perfectly normal, grandson.
This baby, originally diagnosed with Down syndrome, was perfectly fine.
A few months later, I answered my phone. On the other end was a lady sobbing hysterically. The caller was five months pregnant. Three different doctors had diagnosed her baby with "extreme deformities." Each doctor advised an abortion, but she refused. Out of desperation she called Focus on the Family for additional information. I was able to refer her to a pro-life doctor in her area.
After that initial phone conversation, I received the following letter that said this: "I went to the pro-life doctor you recommended. He says there is a 99.9 percent chance my baby will not live. The doctor says there is nothing we can do medically to save the baby. I still refuse to have the abortion and will continue my pregnancy and trust God. My husband is a non-believer but still a great source of love and compassion and is supportive of my strong desire to continue this pregnancy."
She wrote again in the fall with the following words: "My prayer has always been that the Lord’s will be done during this pregnancy, isn’t God wonderful! When my husband and I showed up I for our ultrasound, the nurse reported the baby looked completely normal. I am so excited about the miracles the Lord is doing in our lives!"
In December, they called to inform me that she had given birth to a perfectly normal, perfectly healthy baby boy!
Though the medical world can make great achievements, the accuracy of prenatal tests are not as full proof as some physicians may claim. According to Dr. J.C. Willke, president of Life Issues Institute, "Even after all of this testing, some of the babies indicated by tests as ‘handicapped’ will, in fact, be normal, and some of the ‘normals’ will be born with a handicap, as the test is not always 100 percent accurate." A 1986 report in the New England Journal of Medicine found that from amniocentesis, false positive and false negative results varied from 4 percent to 17.5 percent.1
Since statistics show that nine out of ten babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted, the numbers of perfectly healthy babies being aborted are incredibly high. Conservatively, at least one of these nine who abort would have delivered a healthy child.
Nevertheless, in an age of routine prenatal testing, we seem to have lost sight of God’s promises. Down syndrome babies are deemed rejects, but God’s Word tells us, "Now choose life, so that you and your children may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19). It is unfortunate to view Down syndrome babies as mistakes, because the Creator of life does not make mistakes.
A mother of a Down syndrome little boy once told me, "Living with and loving children whom others see only as deformed or imperfect can show us an intelligence powered strictly by love. I have been taught what joy really is. I have been shown that simplicity is really God’s most beautifully created love."