Her OB-GYN never mentioned the “a” word, but it was clear what she was getting at.
As the appointment went on, Mary Rose Somarriba felt increasingly disturbed by how much her doctor was pressuring her to consider abortion based on the possibility that her baby may – may – have cystic fibrosis.
“There was an awkwardly high amount of tension in the room,” Somarriba wrote at Verily Magazine. “I had just watched my living, squirming baby for a half hour, learned she’s a girl, and practically named her in my head.”
Yet, the doctor “seemed to be suggesting I should get” genetic testing for one reason: “to consider the option of having an abortion,” she wrote.
Somarriba, who excitedly is awaiting the birth of her unborn daughter, said she and her husband would never consider aborting a child because of cystic fibrosis. But she wondered how many other parents feel pressured into abortions by doctors like the one she met during her 20-week ultrasound appointment.
Somarriba said the appointment began in a routine way. Even though she went through it before with her three older children, she said she still felt thrilled to see her baby on the ultrasound screen.
“As has happened the last few times I’ve gone, the ultrasound tech switched from the standard silhouette imaging into 4-D imaging for the baby’s face, which is always something to behold,” she remembered.
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The positive atmosphere changed, however, when the doctor came into the room.
… she appeared to have one goal: to focus on the possibilities that there could be something wrong with my baby, even though the tech said everything on the ultrasound looked great.
“You are a carrier for cystic fibrosis,” she said, “and we don’t have your husband’s results. If he came in for a blood test, we could know if he is a CF carrier too.” I was unfazed, since I had heard this already from my OB-GYN.
“I know,” I responded. “It’s not covered by my current health-share program for him to get tested, and I don’t really need it, because it won’t make a difference to me.”
But the doctor persisted, explaining that they could pay out of pocket for the test. Though Somarriba continued to refuse, the doctor continued to press the issue.
“This doctor wouldn’t let it go. I wasn’t concerned about CF risk, but she appeared to be very concerned for me,” she said.
The doctor’s persistence troubled her not just for herself and her unborn daughter but also for people with cystic fibrosis and mothers who may be afraid and unaware of support.
It broke my heart to think that there are people (like this doctor, it would seem) who think people with cystic fibrosis are accidents of existence, the mistake of parents who failed to get CF screening tests and dutifully remove them from the gene pool, rather than people with lives worth living. I was starting to sense not just a judgment against people with CF but also against people who don’t get their CF screenings—a sense from the doctor that my husband and I were being irresponsible by carrying this pregnancy with the unknowns that seemed to trouble her.
Somarriba said the doctor seemed to be judging her with her repeated questions and hints.
“I got the impression that in her mind I was a victim to a husband not getting his CF results when I wanted him to,” she wrote. “And later, when I was struggling to care for a high-needs child, I’d look back at this moment and wish I had just snuffed this child out of existence while I still could have.”
Later, she wondered if she had just imagined everything. Then, she saw her medical chart: The doctor had written, “the patient is committed to the pregnancy.”
Somarriba said she is thankful that the doctor was not her regular OB-GYN because she felt a strong need to protect her unborn baby from her.
“But how many vulnerable moms had she counseled like this?” she wondered. While cystic fibrosis is a “very life-altering and challenging disease,” she said she was in “no position to determine whose life is worth living.”
Somarriba said she still does not know if her unborn daughter has cystic fibrosis, but either way will not change her commitment to love and care for her.
“No matter her challenges, I hope she’ll live a life she can be proud of. By welcoming this baby with all the unknowns each human life comes with, I am trying to do the same,” she said.
LifeNews Note: File photo.