In an April 9th article carried in The Ottawa Citizen as “Birth defects driving stillbirth rate up—Pregnancies being terminated in serious cases,” Sharon Kirkey reported on a study published a day earlier in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).
While improvements in detecting and managing pregnancy complications have led to lower stillbirth rates, these rates have risen in Canada as well as several other countries in recent years. Canadian reporting criteria define a stillbirth as the loss of a fetus aged 20 weeks or older or with a birth weight of at least 500 grams.
The rising stillbirth rate led a team that included Dr. K. S. Joseph, professor in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of British Columbia School of Population and Public Health, to examine data on all stillbirths at 20 weeks of pregnancy or later recorded in the B.C. Perinatal Data Registry from 2000 to 2010. The results were published in the CMAJ under the title “Determinants of increases in stillbirth rates from 2000 to 2010.”
The study’s authors found that the rate of recorded stillbirths rose from 8.08 to 10.55 per 1 000 births. They concluded this change resulted not from an increase in spontaneous stillbirths but from a rise in the number of abortions following the detection of serious birth defects. Such abortions “can result in a fetal death that satisfies the current definition of a stillbirth,” according to the study.
Pamela Fayerman’s April 9th article in The Vancouver Sun, “B.C.’s stillbirth rate up by 31 per cent—Prenatal monitoring, therapeutic abortions push numbers higher: study,” notes the number of such abortions increased from 2.4 to 5.7 per 1 000 births. Most abortions in the study were performed between the 20th and 23rd weeks of pregnancy following prenatal screening such as ultrasounds and blood tests.
The study showed a slight decline in the number of spontaneous stillbirths, as well as a decrease in the number of live-born babies with severe birth defects from 5.21 per 100 births in 2000-02 to 4.77 per 100 in 2008-10.
“Determinants of increases in stillbirth rates from 2000 to 2010” stated that this decline happened at the same time as the increase in stillbirths, but other factors, such as the fortification of food with folic acid, may have contributed to the reduction in the incidence of birth defects.
According to Peter Baklinski’s April 10th LifeSiteNews.com article “‘Disquieting’ increase in stillbirths in B.C. due to increase in late-term abortions: study,” the study’s authors recommended that requirements for reporting baby deaths distinguish between stillbirths that occur spontaneously and those that follow abortion.
Jonathon Van Maren, communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, stated that while most Canadian doctors would not perform late-term abortions “there are nonetheless a significant number who will”. For doctors who would perform such abortions, Canadian Medical Association guidelines on abortion are just that—guidelines.
Mr. Van Maren said that, “Once you devalue human life, and say that it’s not worth anything at some arbitrary point, it’s eventually not going to be worth anything at all, ever.”
Kelly McParland, in his April 11th National Post article “Stillbirth study shows abortion has lost the terminology war,” wrote that believing it is acceptable to abort a child likely to face severe health problems or die within days of birth fuels the argument that it is acceptable to have an abortion based on the child’s health issues or gender, the number of children in the family or any other reason.
How sad that eliminating the unborn child with birth defects is seen as a solution rather than allowing the child to be born and loved no matter how short his life might be.