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Perinatal Hospice: Loving Babies Born With Life-Limiting Conditions (With Mary Szoch)

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One of the most frequent arguments in favor of abortion is the cases of babies who receive a prenatal diagnosis of a life-limiting medical condition, where they would likely pass away at birth or shortly after. While this is a tragic situation for families, there is another alternative that treats the family and the baby with dignity.

This week on Family Policy Matters, host Traci DeVette Griggs welcomes Mary Szoch, Director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, to discuss a recent report that explored perinatal hospice as an alternative for babies with a prenatal diagnosis of a life-limiting medical condition.

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Transcript: “Perinatal Hospice: Loving Babies Born With Life-Limiting Conditions (With Mary Szoch)”

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Thanks for joining us this week for Family Policy Matters. It’s a nightmare that many of us cannot possibly imagine. But for approximately 1 in 6000 pregnancies, the expectant parents receive the news that their child is expected to be born severely disabled or die before or shortly after birth. Mary Szoch is Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. She joins us today to discuss a new report she co-authored entitled “Perinatal Hospice: A Compassionate, Life-Affirming Option,” Mary Szoch, welcome to Family Policy Matters.

MARY SZOCH: Thanks so much for having me.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Why is this an important topic that we, especially as Christians, need to be talking about and know about?

MARY SZOCH: Well, since the Dobbs decision, we have seen the pro-abortion industry move to using these stories of tragic and heartbreaking cases where mothers and fathers find out that their child is very sick in the womb, and that their child likely is so sick that he or she will die before they’re born or the doctors assume will live a very short life. But what we have seen the response to this be instead of it being compassion and love and support for that family, we’ve seen the response be the legislators working to ensure that those parents can have an abortionist kill their unborn child. And this is a tragedy, not only because every life has value and worth, but also because we’re making it harder for parents to choose life. And for parents to stand up for the dignity of their unborn child when we allow laws like this to pass.

So in starting this study, we were hoping to identify another option for parents. Something that is the life-affirming choice, something that is better, that as Christians, we should be committed to. And so we identified perinatal hospice as that option. This is a beautiful, life-affirming choice for parents. We know that every life is a gift from God; every human being is made in His image and likeness and, therefore, has worth beyond what any of us could imagine. And as God is the author of life, only He can decide when life begins and when life ends. But what we know from moms and dads in this situation is that if physicians are correct, and that is a big if, if they are correct, and their child will die before their child is born, the result of having an abortion or of carrying their child to term will be that their child dies in both cases. In one instance, though, those parents surrounded their child with love and care and cherished every single minute with that baby until God called him or her home. In the other, that child is treated as if he or she is expendable. And an abortionist is paid to end that baby’s life. What changes is the middle part is how the parents encountered this baby, whether they surround that baby with love and support, or whether they treat that child as someone who can just be eliminated.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: So now, you did say the big if, so are you finding that there are diagnoses that are inaccurate, that people are told their babies surely will not live, and yet they are born and do live?

MARY SZOCH: It’s really hard to get really great statistics on abortion in the United States or on prenatal diagnoses because there’s no reporting requirement for abortion in the US. But what we do know is that with the non-invasive testing, the New York Times actually did an expose on this last spring, where they reported that 85% of the time, those tests are wrong. So that means that 85% of the time, parents are told there is a high likelihood that your child has one of these life-limiting fetal anomalies and they’re wrong. Now we know that every child, regardless of what that test says, has incalculable worth, but for many parents, this does make a difference. And those testing companies should be held accountable. And what we do know about them is that many of them have ties to the abortion industry. And so we really need to be examining why are we even doing this testing if there’s nothing that we can do to help a child in utero with some sort of genetic anomaly?

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: So you said 85% of the non-invasive tests? And, of course, I think we know that there are more invasive tests that can probably give a more certain answer. But are you finding that people are basing their decisions on whether or not to keep the baby on these non-invasive and highly inaccurate tests?

MARY SZOCH: Sure. So what we know is that these tests are screenings; they are not meant to be diagnostic. But if you, if you look at the websites of the manufacturers of these tests, oftentimes they’re presented as if they are, in fact, diagnostic. And so, parents are left thinking that this is a certainty when, in fact, it is just a likelihood. And so yes, some parents do, in fact, make a decision to end their child’s life, to have an abortionist end their child’s life, based on those tests.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Tell us about perinatal hospice, I think many of our listeners may have never even heard that there was such a thing. Tell us what they do and where can we find that, say, if we needed to refer someone to that.

MARY SZOCH: When parents receive a diagnosis of a genetic anomaly. And they are told that this diagnosis is life-limiting for their child, or some are told that their child will die before birth or shortly after. We know that parents need support and loving care. And so there are a number of organizations around the country who are willing to be there with couples to help them get actual accurate information about their child’s diagnosis, to refer them to a life-affirming physician who will tell them what the possible outcomes could be for their child’s future. We know that there, in many cases, physicians cannot actually tell you what will, what this child’s genetic anomaly will present as. What that baby will be like, they can’t they can’t know until they meet the baby. They can’t know how that baby’s going to do. But we do know that these organizations can provide a birth plan that works to help eliminate any potential suffering that their child might feel. They’ll be there with support groups; they’ll connect couples to others who have also experienced a similar diagnosis; they’ll help with pictures, with mementos of their child, extra sonograms. Some of them, some of them are connected to OB/GYNs and they offer care right there. They’ll help with funeral planning in the event that the child does die, and then after the child’s death, they offer support and love to that family. And they offer the knowledge that this is coming from women, typically women who have also experienced this. And so there is really just this feeling of being surrounded with love.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: How would we go about looking for one of these organizations, and if somebody hears us and they’re like, I’d like to start one of these type organizations in our community, is there a best practices type of a group that you would refer them to?

MARY SZOCH: You are blessed to be in North Carolina, where Be Not Afraid is, and Be Not Afraid was really at the forefront of perinatal hospice. Tracy Windsor, the the founder of it, is really an expert on perinatal hospice care and she does help with training others in perinatal hospice, and she has best practices that can be used to support others in need. So really check out Be Not Afraid, and it certainly is an excellent organization to refer anyone from across the country to. But we’ve had other organizations that we’ve worked with as well. And each of these, they’re listed in our report, each of these were excellent sources of support for couples facing an adverse prenatal diagnosis.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Well, tell us about this research project that you did. Why did you think it was necessary to do it? And what were your findings?

MARY SZOCH: We saw that around the country, Democrats were pushing legislation that, or were pushing for in states that were pushing pro-life laws, Democrats were pushing for exceptions for babies who had fetal anomalies. And this type of eugenic mentality is something that we needed to combat. And what we found was that abortion is not the best or only solution for a woman who has a child who has an adverse fetal anomaly. We know that the couples who did choose life for their child and were supported by perinatal hospice, that an overwhelming majority of them said that they were very confident in their decision to carry their child to term and that none of the women we surveyed said that they were not at all confident in this decision. So we know that perinatal hospice is making a difference in the lives of these couples. And we know that it is certainly the Christian approach, the life-affirming approach to helping a child who has who has devastating disabilities in the womb.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: We’re about out of time before we go, Mary Szoch; where can our listeners go to not only find this report, “Perinatal Hospice: A Compassionate Life-Affirming Option,” but also just to follow your good work in other areas? Talk about not only where they can find this, but other resources that might be available to them.

MARY SZOCH: At, you can find the perinatal hospice report, it’s, and there and through our online publication, Washington Watch, we have a number of life-affirming resources for those who would like to promote the dignity of every human person at every stage.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Okay. And you are the Director of the Center for Human Dignity there. Are there other resources that people might be interested in checking out?

MARY SZOCH: Certainly. Yes, especially as we approach the upcoming election, we have a series on the difficult conversations surrounding abortion that you might have. These include the conversation of rape and incest, of ectopic pregnancy, of life of the mother, and of adverse prenatal diagnosis. We have a very lengthy but very good publication on the chemical abortion drug mifepristone, which will be the subject of the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine versus the FDA Supreme Court case next week. We have we have a number of other resources, including one on how to change your pro-choice friends heart that really talks about the importance of sharing, of listening, and of sharing the stories that really touch people’s hearts and change their mind about abortion. So we have a number of these resources, we’d love for you to check them out.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: All right, Mary Szoch, Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council, thank you so much for being with us today on Family Policy Matters.

MARY SZOCH: Thank you so much for having me.

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