Imagine this scenario: After two devastating miscarriages you get pregnant, and you, your husband, and your children begin to dare to hope again. Then at five and a half weeks you have stomach pains and go to the doctor just to be sure. They do an ultrasound and tell you: No heartbeat, baby is dead, check into the hospital for a D&C to get all cleaned out. Numbly, you comply, and go home to grieve with your family.

Three weeks later you return to the doctor because you still feel pregnant. Another ultrasound: Oops, guess we made a mistake, baby is fine and growing well. Sorry about that.

That's what happened to Julie Brown, in Scotland. Thrilled of course that her baby is alive, she's naturally worried, having undergone a violent, invasive procedure, with anesthesia, pain medication, and antibiotics, and stopped taking normal pregnancy precautions (like folic acid supplements), not to mention having subjected the baby to a flood of stress (distress) hormones, all during the very critical first trimester of pregnancy.

So I'm not surprised she is "considering legal action." What does surprise me is the attitude of some commentators that she should just get over it, be happy she still has her baby, and understand that mistakes will happen. Huh? I deplore the lawsuit-happy culture more than most, and fully appreciate that in life there will be mistakes, and accidents, and troubles, and risks. But this isn't just a little mistake, it's a HUGE error. It indicates something is wrong, not with one particular ultrasound reading, but with the larger system that obviously doesn't have enough checks and balances where life and death matters are concerned. It's the equivalent of declaring a patient dead and wheeling him off to the morgue, only to have him sit up and start talking three days later.

It's also one more indictment of the industrialized, technological, interventionist approach to obstetrics we have come to consider normal.
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, August 10, 2006 at 8:40 am | Edit
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This is horrifying and exactly why you should let your body have a natural miscarriage and not let them do a D&C. I do think your second-to-last sentence should better read, "...declaring a patient dead and cremating him, only to have him miraculously rise from the ashes three days later." A D&C is exactly the same procedure they use for abortions.

Posted by joyful on Thursday, August 10, 2006 at 5:10 pm
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