Tuesday, September 30, 2008

News from the Pro-Life Front Lines

The "me, myself and I" ideologues, as usual, must manufacture a "hard case" and then distort it to try and justify their pro-abortion position. They have an ad running on TV, purporting to show that a local couple would have lost both twins to a rare in-utero condition under SD's Measure 11. Except that the procedure they sought isn't even done in South Dakota and the law would not have impacted them. But there's more distortion than that in the ad:


CONTACT: Brandi Gruis


SIOUX FALLS, SD -- Statistics from the C.D.C. show that 32.2 out of 1,000 pregnancies involve twins. However, only about 20% of twins are monochorionic (share the same placenta). That means that only 6.44 pregnancies in 1,000 are monochorionic pregnancies. The reason that this is significant is that only monochorionic twins can develop Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome.

Dr. DeLia, a fetal surgeon in Chicago, was the doctor who invented the procedure that treats Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome – fetoscopic laser photocoagulation. Monochorionic twins can be in one sac or two sacs. For some reason, Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) is more common in cases of two sacs. Overall, about 15% of all monochorionic twins have some degree of TTTS. That translates to 0.97 in every 1,000 pregnancies.

There are a number of ways to treat TTTS, any of which may be the correct method depending on ultrasound findings and the gestational age of the pregnancy. The various therapies that are available target either the unequal fluid between the twins’ sacs, or interrupt the blood vessel communications between the twins on the single shared placenta. The available therapies currently used are:
A. Amnioreduction – This is a series of amniocentesis that involves removal of the excess amniotic fluid from the sac of the recipient twin. This restores the balance of the fluid in the two sacs and improves uteroplacental blood flow.
B. Septostomy (microseptostomy) – This procedure creates a hole in the membrane between the two babies’ sacs allowing the excessive fluid from the recipient twins’ sac to flow to the donor twin’s sac, which is low or absent in fluid. This procedure is performed with an amniocentesis needle.
C. Fetoscopic Laser Photocoagulation – The most successful procedure is Fetoscopic Laser Photocoagulation, invented by Dr. DeLia. This is the laser ablation of the communicating vessels on the placenta between the twin fetuses. This procedure can be curative because the babies are no longer sharing blood vessels between them.

About one third of the TTTS babies need to be operated on. That means that an operation is needed in 0.32 pregnancies for every 1,000 pregnancies, or 1 in 3,000. Since there are about 11,000 births in South Dakota, each year, that means that there will be, on average, about 4 times a year where this procedure would be needed.

Depending on where the procedure is performed, between 79% and 85% of time, at least one baby survives. Between 55% to 64% of the time, both babies survive. That means that, on average, about 2 times a year, a baby will die despite the efforts to save the babies. The medical profession does not deliberately kill one of the babies. There is no need to do that. “Selective Termination” or “Selective Reduction” is never needed.

It is a violation of Section 2 of Initiated Measure 11 only if the procedure is intended to kill the child. The procedures I outlined are never intended to kill the child, but are always intended to save the life of the child.

It is absolutely absurd for Planned Parenthood to suggest that this law prohibits these procedures just because there is a risk the children can die. By the way, if the TTTS babies die, it is usually from the underlying condition, not the surgery. The condition kills them because the surgery failed to save them. For more information, visit Voteyesforlife.com.


Glad to report that SD Sen. John Thune Supports an Adoption Incentives Program
(received by e-newsletter)

Earlier this month, Senator John Thune joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in sending a letter to leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives urging the reauthorization of the Adoption Incentives Program. The legislation was subsequently acted upon and is currently waiting for a signature from the President. The Adoption Incentives Program provides money to states for foster care programs based on the number of completed adoptions in that state. This legislation will double the financial incentives for successful adoptions in certain categories. Advocates say this is the most comprehensive overhaul of the adoption incentives program since 1997. Senator Thune also cosponsored a bipartisan resolution recognizing November 15th, 2008 as National Adoption Day. This legislation was passed on September 22, 2008. National Adoption Day is an effort to raise awareness of the 129,000 children in foster care who need permanent homes.


Unknown said...

Where specifically in measure 11 does it allow for this type of procedure (i.e., a procedure performed with the intent of causing the termination of the life of an unborn human being). This is an abortion as defined by Section 2 of measure 11. Section 12 provides no relief in this situation as it relates specifically to Sections 3 & 4 (life & health of the mother)

The prevalence of TTTS and other fetal anomalies may seem statistically insignificant to you; however, to the families impacted this is very significant. Do you really have the right to anoint someone else’s child as the martyr for your cause? Which one of your children would you be willing to give up for your cause?

In reality this and similar situations aren't as rare as one might think.

Fetal distress and syndromes affect 800,000 pregnancies per year in the US alone. This is four times the amount of cases per year as breast cancer. We lose more than 200 babies a day to fetal distresses and syndromes. Upon diagnosis families often struggle with not knowing or knowing little about their diagnosis, they feel alone in their search for information, help and support. You are not alone, we are here for you.
Aligned with some of the world’s leading fetal medicine centers, Fetal Hope has been organized to provide accurate and factual information for families dealing with syndromes and distresses such as Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), Acardiac Twinning (TRAP sequence), Amniotic Band Syndrome (ABS), Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), Selective Intrauternine Growth Restriction (SIUGR), Fetal Lower Urinary Tract Obstruction (LUTO) and many other fetal distresses and syndromes. Our organization is about HOPE. No family should ever be left without HOPE.
Hundreds of thousands of pregnancies are affected each year, but many go undiagnosed and/or untreated. With more than 200 babies lost every day, some may have been saved with proper diagnosis and treatment. If you or a family member are in need of support or looking for additional resources please contact the Fetal Hope Foundation at 1-877-789-HOPE or via email at info@fetalhope.org.

All five of the major fetal care centers in the US all mention “selective termination” as the best treatment for TTTS in some cases.

Texas Children’s Fetal Care Center
Selective cord coagulation
In some cases, a couple may make the difficult decision to proceed with the purposeful loss of one twin to save the other twin. This procedure is used when laser ablation of the connecting vessels is not possible or if one of the twins is so close to death that laser ablation would likely not be successful. By stopping the flow in the cord of the dying twin, the other twin can be protected from the consequences of its sibling’s death. The procedure is performed through the use of a special forceps that is placed into the amniotic sac of the recipient twin while watching with ultrasound. The umbilical cord is then grasped and electrical current is applied to burn (coagulate) the blood vessels in the cord so that the blood flow will stop to this fetus. The communication between the fetuses is definitively ended; however, this eliminates the chance of survival for one of the twins. Complications of this procedure include premature delivery and premature rupture of the membranes. Rupture of the membranes has been reported to occur in about 20 percent of cases. Survival of the one remaining fetus can be expected in 85 percent of cases.

Fetal Care Center of Cincinnatti
Fetoscopic Cord Coagulation
In such cases, due to unequal sharing between the donor and recipient, the selective fetoscopic laser procedure may result in death of the donor twin from acute placental insufficiency within hours of the procedure and a recipient twin that dies from progressive Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome cardiomyopathy. In this situation, fetoscopic cord coagulation may be the best option available.
Cord coagulation preserves the vascular communications between the donor twin and the placenta in the recipient twin's domain. In 16 of 17 such cases we have observed rebound fetal growth, restoration of amniotic fluid volume, and delivery of neurologically intact donor twin at a mean gestational age of 34 weeks.

UCSF Fetal Care Center
Fetal Treatment: Radio-Frequency Ablation (RFA)
The other option, if the acardiac twin is large enough and we are worried about the amount of blood flow to it causing heart failure in the healthy twin is to stop the blood flow with Fetal Image-Guided Surgery (FIGS-IT). We currently do this using a thin needle, which we guide into the place where the blood vessels feed into the acardiac twin, using ultrasound. Once in place this instrument called an RFA (radio-frequency ablation) device produces a very high local heat, to burn the tissue and destroy the blood vessels to stop the blood flow. The needle is so thin that no incision is necessary and the pain and recovery are similar to an amniocentesis. We were the Center to pioneer this treatment and have had great success with it.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Selective Termination – Case Study
At the time of her evaluation for twin-twin transfusion with us, the recipient twin was found to have severe biventricular cardiac dysfunction, with moderate to severe leakage (regurgitation) across both mitral and tricuspid valves, severe pulmonic insufficiency with no forward flow across the pulmonary valve and reverse flow seen within the pulmonary artery. There was a reversal of end-diastolic blood flow seen in the ductus venosus and umbilical artery and pulsatile flow seen in the umbilical vein. These findings in the recipient twin were characteristic of severe hypertrophic cardiomyopathy that occurs with Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome. Fetuses with this combination of findings generally die of heart failure within seven to 10 days. Cardiac findings in the donor twin were normal.
Given that intrauterine death of one fetus in monochorionic twin pregnancies is associated with a 50-percent loss of the other twin, or a 40 to 60 percent incidence of significant neurologic injury if the other twin survives the death of its co-twin, the risks to the donor twin in this case for death or neurologic injury were high.

Children’s Hospital Boston
Umbilical cord ligation (tying of the umbilical cord) is performed endoscopically (through a small puncture in the mother's abdomen) when one twin is severely compromised with impending death. If one twin dies the other is at high risk for neurological damage caused by a severe drop in blood pressure. The procedure should offset the drop in blood pressure and prevent other continued symptoms in the surviving twin.

Let's not kid ourselves...this is clearly a national issue. The activists behind measure 11 ultimately intend to strip families of this decision across America.

TLF+ said...

j - thanks for your talking points.

1) The procedure used by the family in the TV ad was not even available in SD - so their case doesn't even speak to the law.

2) Measure 11 only prohibits procedures intended to terminate life - not risky procedures intended to save it.

3) You list case studies that I can count on my fingers (NONE FROM SD) - the almost 800 abortions per year in SD are, as is the case nationally, a too-late means of "birth control."

Your assertion that people who value life are going around the country looking for ways to inflict pain on families is... uh... lunacy?

Most of the people in the pro-life movement are raising families. Many of us raise kids with special needs.

Meanwhile, the pro-abortion bunch has bused in a bunch of overwrought college kids to front for them here. Maybe you are one of those. Your overheated email is not the work of someone who has done much more than echo talking points from an extreme point of view.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Greg said...

America will be called to account for offering our children on the alter of self-interest. We're guilty on a more horrific scale than ancient Israel's sacrifices to Moloch. God help us to abandon this horrid sin.