The Corner

Health Care

The Groningen Protocol Comes to the United States

Dr. Benjamin Warf discusses images of the spine before an operation at Children’s Hospital in Boston, Mass., May 14, 2013. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

In the United Kingdom just this month, a fetus at 24 weeks’ gestation was removed from her mother’s womb, received surgery for spina bifida, and was placed back inside her mother to finish gestation. Bethan Simpson, the child’s mother, is only the fourth pregnant woman in the U.K. to undergo such a treatment for her unborn child.

Such astonishing and life-saving advancements in medical science are becoming particularly inconvenient for those who continue to support unlimited abortion on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy — and especially for those who would do so under the guise of compassion for the sick.

According to reporting from The Sun, Simpson and her husband found out that their daughter had spina bifida at their 20-week scan. “The couple were told their first option was to terminate the pregnancy,” the article states.

But thanks to technological developments, they had another option: surgery to cure their daughter rather than end her life. Surgeons from the University College London Hospital and from Belgium conducted the procedure, and the operation was a success.

Unborn children like the Simpsons’ daughter are rarely so lucky. Until now, technology hadn’t yet developed enough to offer parents a possible cure in utero. Instead, the medical community began to advocate terminating the lives of these fetuses. According to a 1999 study, 64 percent of fetuses diagnosed with spina bifida were aborted worldwide during that decade.

Some countries take this even further. In 2017, CBS News published a feature piece examining how Iceland is “leading the world in eradicating Down syndrome births,” as if the country had managed to develop a cure for the chromosomal disorder. Instead, the country has used a combination of prenatal testing and “therapeutic” abortion to systematically exterminate children prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome. At last count, only one or two infants with the condition are born in Iceland each year — the lucky survivors.

In the Netherlands, meanwhile, the so-called Groningen Protocol allows for neonatal euthanasia of “severely ill” newborns. Killing such children is permitted up to the age of one in “the presence of hopeless and unbearable suffering.”

While the U.S. has thus far avoided such aggressive policies, our most vociferous proponents of abortion rights not only defend the right to selectively abort fetuses diagnosed with illnesses, but they use those rare cases of fetal disorders to justify all abortions of viable fetuses late in pregnancy.

Abortion-rights activists falsely assert, for instance, that abortions late in pregnancy are only performed in order to address “severe fetal abnormalities.” (In fact, most of these abortions occur for reasons not having to do with maternal or fetal health.) Virginia governor Ralph Northam recently defended a proposed expansive pro-abortion policy in his state, noting that it could allow doctors to let newborn infants die from lack of medical care if they are “non-viable” or have “severe deformities.”

It’s the Groningen Protocol for the United States.

Democratic politicians in both the House and Senate are busy blocking legislation that would actively prohibit such a gruesome policy from taking root in our country, instead affirmatively requiring doctors to provide medical care to infants born alive in attempted abortion procedures.

In the face of this radical opposition to human life, the Simpsons’ successful surgery to cure their unborn daughter’s spina bifida is a powerful reminder that real medicine uses technological advancements to heal the sick — not to kill them in the name of progress.

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