Story No. 356: Dr. Kristina from Colorado

Last week, we saw a patient who was 18 weeks pregnant. She traveled from a South American country, where abortion is totally banned, even in the cases where the pregnancy poses a threat to the mother’s life.

She had been instructed by her physician to get fetal DNA testing early in the pregnancy to check for genetic anomalies – the test came back positive for Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome). When she requested a confirmatory test, she was denied. They refused to do an amniocentesis because it’s “invasive” and she could lose the pregnancy (in fact, the risk of loss is very low, approximately 1 in 200).

My patient was shocked and dismayed to be denied a test to confirm the diagnosis. An ultrasound was performed instead, and they found several features consistent with Trisomy 21 in addition to a cardiac defect. She was even more distraught about her physician’s reaction. He informed her that she is the mother of this pregnancy and she needs to dedicate her life to caring for this future special needs child.

She has two young children and raising a child with Down Syndrome is not possible for her and her family. Thankfully, she has the means to travel, arrange for childcare, and spend a week in the United States undergoing a termination of pregnancy. Had she come a few weeks later, we would not have been able to help her in our clinic.