A Perinatal Hospice - Healing for Parents
Rochester Area Right To Life
A perinatal hospice for Kansas City
By EUGENE W.J. PEARCE - Special to The Star Date: 06/12/01 22:00
Many years ago, the parents and the birth attendants only discovered that a baby had birth defects when it was born. With today's modern technology, the discovery is frequently made somewhere in the midtrimester of pregnancy.
It is at that time that the parents begin to grieve and suffer. The modern solution to this suffering is to offer the parents a late abortion. Some of these babies are born alive and are not treated because the intent of the delivery process was that they should not survive.
In an Opinion column in The Kansas City Star on March 26, syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker wrote on this subject under the headline, "Congress is trying again to protect live babies."
Parker described the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, which would require at least comfort and care for infants born with a fatal birth defect. The idea behind such an abortion is that it is the most compassionate way to end a doomed life and to minimize the parents' suffering. That abortion will minimize the parent suffering is of course an unexamined premise. For many parents, guilt feelings are added to their suffering about ending a wanted baby's life prematurely to reduce their own discomfort.
A number of years ago, Byron Calhoun, a military perinatologist at Madigan Army Hospital in Tacoma, Wash., began offering the services of perinatal hospice.
Alexandra's House is the name of the perinatal hospice in Kansas City. Our vision is that families with a baby with serious birth defects unborn or newly born have great demands on them.
Our purpose is to offer spiritual and physical support through these difficult days. At the time of birth the family is allowed to hold the baby, love it, dress it, name it, photograph it and -- when it dies -- to bury it with the appropriate ceremony.
Although Alexandra's House has been in existence for a little over a year, it has already provided services for a little over half a dozen families.
In her article, Parker asked, "Wouldn't it be better to give birth and hold your baby for a couple of hours? What memory do you want to live with?"
Alexandra's House, as a perinatal hospice, provides an opportunity for the parents of such a baby to make sense of their suffering, with positive memories of a bittersweet experience.
Eugene W.J. Pearce, M.D. is associate professor and head of gynecology at Truman Medical Center. He is a board member of Alexandra's House.
Read the story in http://www.kcstar.com/item/pages/opinion.pat,opinion/3accbe71.612,.html
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