“Proposition 115 does not extend compassionate care.”
A 25-year-old patient and her husband go to their OBGYN’s office for a routine, mid-pregnancy ultrasound. They are excited – they’ve spent the last several months preparing for their new family and adventures yet to come. A few minutes later, their world turns upside down.
Their baby has anencephaly, a condition in which major parts of the brain and skull do not form. It is a lethal diagnosis and a devastating blow to the parents to be. Their doctor discussed all options for care, and the young couple consulted with their pastor. Knowing that their baby would not survive, this family chose to end their pregnancy.
These are the types of second trimester pregnancy terminations for which Proposition 115 does not extend compassionate care.
Every day in Colorado, pregnant women and families receive unexpected lethal fetal diagnoses and are faced with the need to make gut-wrenching decisions. The fetus may have no kidneys, no functional brain, a severely malformed heart, or skeletal abnormalities that make survival a medical impossibility. The list is long. Women who receive a lethal fetal diagnosis also face a higher risk of health complications as pregnancy progresses. It must be emphasized that these are very wanted pregnancies in which something has gone terribly wrong.
Many lethal fetal diagnoses are not detected until 20-22 weeks gestation. If other confirmatory tests are needed, a patient could easily pass the 22-week mark in her pregnancy. Every patient’s situation is unique. Proposition 115 would take away the right of a parent to pursue the avenue that is best for their family.
Chances are, you know someone who has walked this painful path. Unfortunately, in a super-charged political climate, families may not feel free to speak their truth, for fear of being judged or shamed. What these families deserve is compassion and support in their grief. Having worked in women’s health care for 27 years, I can tell you that no one knows what decision they will make until faced with serious pregnancy complications. As a society, we should be there to support pregnant women and families – not condemn them.
Thoughtful people across the political spectrum may feel conflicted in the debate over Proposition 115. But in order to show compassion and support for Colorado families, this measure must be defeated. Let’s work together, instead, on solutions that empower and support individuals and families. Proposition 115 will have many unintended consequences for Colorado families. We must respect patients’ decisions because it is their decision to make, not mine, and not yours. I hope you will join me in voting no on Proposition 115.
Dr. Lisa Becker, MD is a High Risk Pregnancy Obstetrician in Denver, CO