Woman Aborts Healthy Baby After Wrong Test Results

These days pregnant women are quite familiar with the amniocentesis test, especially if they are over 35. It's something doctors practically insist upon to check for chromosomal defects. But how accurate are these tests? The stakes are very high: Many women may have an abortion if the test results are dire -- but could they be aborting healthy babies? Scarily, it appears this is more common than we thought.


Colleen Abbott, 37, was finally pregnant after three miscarriages. But because of her age, miscarriage history, and a sonogram that appeared to show some trouble, Abbott's doctor recommended an amniocentesis.

Full results take a couple of weeks to come back, but a FISH test can give quicker answers. So Abbott got that as well. She learned some good news and some bad. The good: The baby had no chromosomal defects. The bad? The baby appeared to have "ambiguous" genitals, despite being genetically male. In other words, the baby appeared to be "intersex."

But there was more. This diagnosis wasn't just about "ambiguous" genitals. The baby could have a number of other disorders, including organ failure. Abbott was scheduled a visit with a genetic counselor.

According to Abbott, the counselor urged an abortion. Abbott's lawyer implies the counselor even called the baby a "monster."

The counselor offers a different version of events, saying that she advised Abbott to wait until the final test results before making such a huge decision.

After the counseling session, Abbott had a procedure that stopped the baby's heart. She later gave birth to a dead baby.

In a tragic twist, a day after the procedure, the lab called and said there had been a mistake. A secretary reportedly had typed "XY" instead of "XX" in the gender field. An autopsy showed the baby had no defects, after all.

A mother who had tried so hard to get pregnant had just aborted her own healthy baby because she had been told of horrible defects -- erroneously.

The Abbotts sued pretty much everyone, but the court said that while the lab was negligent, it did not need to take responsibility for Colleen Abbott's choice to have an abortion.

I think if anything, this story highlights how important it would be to get a second opinion if your lab results show something that would make you seriously consider getting an abortion. Of course, the amniocentesis isn't a breeze -- and there is a small chance of causing a miscarriage. But if you are deadset on aborting a baby because of severe health issues, then another test would be worth it. Even if you have to pay for it yourself.

Another option might be to send the lab test results to another doctor. I mean, seriously, a secretarial mistake?! If that could happen once, it could happen thousands of times.

Colleen Abbott's situation doesn't even appear to be that uncommon. Reportedly, screening results can be wrong up to 50 percent of the time, and some women are aborting fetuses based solely on those results.

Most women, however, will have no idea that they just aborted a healthy fetus. Ugh! Horrible.

Abortion is an incredibly private decision, for each woman to decide herself (or with her partner). But women who want their baby may want to do as much testing as they can before making a decision.

It's a tragedy that Colleen Abbott lost her baby because of false information -- and it's also a tragedy that this fetus never made it to the world. Amniocentesis is a blessing -- but like any other test, it's not infallible. Do as much as you possibly can to get all the information you need.

Did you get an amniocentesis test?


Image via Daniel Lobo/Flickr

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