Would you rather have a child said to be SS or abort?


This is a question one of my patients had asked me.Very difficult one. She had gone to a genetic counsellor as her doctor ordered but feels she doesn't want to keep the baby because of associated risks. She also tells me she feels so bad aborting the little thing in her. she kind of have a mixed feling since everyone now knows she is almost 5 months pregnant. I just empathized with her but remained silent throughout. Anyone?


100 Posts

Specializes in L&D. Has 10 years experience.

What does "SS" mean?


144 Posts

Sickle Cell Anemia...

Specializes in ICU, PICC Nurse, Nursing Supervisor. Has 20 years experience.

please realize this is my personal opinion... i am about to give birth to baby number 6 and i have refused with every pregnancy to have all those fancy test. there are so many people that have been told their child has so and so and then are born normal. i truly believe that the good lord above gave me this child and did not give me permission to abort it if he gave me the challenge of dealing with a sick baby. now saying all that mess. maybe she should get a second opinion or even talk to her close family/pastor.

TashaLPN2006RN2012, ASN, RN

1 Article; 1,715 Posts

Specializes in Home Health, Podiatry, Neurology, Case Mgmt. Has 8 years experience.

i had a friend call me when i was in nursing school and tell me that the doctors told her the blood work that was done indicated her baby having downs syndrome. I empathized with her, and told her what i knew from school, but i also feel the same way as txpad...in that those tests arent 100% accurate either. And as far as SSA is concerned did anyone tell the patient that a person can live a normal life with it? I think if i was the patient facing that kind of situation i'd want to know all the sides and if i chose to keep my child i would want to know what i faced having a child with that disease.

Specializes in Neuro/Med-Surg/Oncology.

I'm in line with Tx. So many of those tests are known to have fairly high false positive results. Also, sickle cell anemia is a chronic illness that can be managed. So is Type I Diabetes, but would most people abort for that? Ultimately, it's up to the patient to decide what she wants to do. She had better do it quick. Five months along is getting a little late for both her and the baby re: termination. If it were me I would do some fast research re: reliability percentages for genetic testing, among other things. Personally, I would keep the baby regardless of what any outcomes would be. I'm obviously meant to be that particular child's mother and I don't think I would be entrusted with anything I can't handle.


20,964 Posts

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 26 years experience.

Good questions. Ethical situations like this are never easy. I would only ask the participants of this thread please refrain from turning this into an abortion/pro-life debate, if at all possible when posting here.

Thanks and enjoy the thread!

Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

165 Articles; 21,209 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 31 years experience.

Best wishes. However, sickle cell anemia is not fatal. If treated and the pt takes care of him/herself, they can live a long time. I am with the majority - get a second opinion.


105 Articles; 5,349 Posts

Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds. Has 16 years experience.

I agree with Trauma and Tx. The symptoms of sickle cell disease can vary greatly from patient to patient. Some people with sickle cell have what appears to be a very poor quality of life because they endure so much suffering; others lead almost normal lives. Oftentimes, crises can be prevented by careful medical management and compliance with treatment. New medications and treatments are coming out all the time. I feel that astonishing medical breakthroughs are on the horizon. In 10 or 20 years there may very well be a cure for this condition.


226 Posts

I don't think I could ever abort unless the dx was something that would cause the baby ongoing pain and untreatable.

I would do all the research I could about SSA, ask hematologists about dx, treatment and outcomes, before making any rash desitions.

Just my 2 cents.


346 Posts

Specializes in burn, geriatric, rehab, wound care, ER. Has 25 years experience.

When I was pregnant with my son, age >35, I was almost bullied into having an amniocentesis by the HMO's genetic counsellor. I was shocked by their attitude and told them that the only reason I would abort would be for anencephaly and you could see that on a detailed ultrasound( I was concerned with the risk of miscarriage after an amnio). So my question is does she have an HMO? Has she considered that the insurance company might be just trying to save money down the line?

I'm not an expert in sickle cell but abortion does sound a bit extreme in these circumstances.


1 Article; 421 Posts

Specializes in PICU, surgical post-op. Has 4 years experience.

At the risk of sounding redundant, I would agree with those who have stated that sickle cell is a very treatable disease. Yes, kids and adults with sickle cell do have crises, and some more than others, but it's a very manageable disease (for the most part). I think, ethics aside, there's a huge difference between a baby with sickle cell and a baby with ... oh, I don't know ... agenesis corpus callosum. One is manageable, the other you really can't do anything about. I'll refrain from comments on the ethics of abortion, but would love to be able to encourage that mother to seek a second opinion. I'm VERY surprised she was being counselled to abort a baby for this reason and this far along in a pregnancy.

This topic is now closed to further replies.