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March of Dimes…so, tell me again. How Do You “Prevent” Birth Defects?

Posted by MDViews on January 14, 2005

Ever wondered how exactly one prevents birth defects?

I have. Even before I became an OBGYN doctor. You should to.

That phrase still sticks in my mind from years and years ago, when, on radio and television the March of Dimes (MOD) ad would say, “Give to the March of Dimes. Help prevent birth defects,” if I remember correctly. They raised money by displaying posters, usually at check out counters, asking to give. The entire poster had slots in which to insert dimes. (March of “Dimes”)

Back then, the MOD was a good organization advocating better prenatal care, better nutrition for pregnant women, avoidance of drugs (prescription and otherwise) when pregnant. That was back in the time of Thalidomide in Europe. I think they were involved in some of the intra-fetal transfusions to save “Rh babies” which were revolutionary at the time.

And I don’t want to denigrate the good things the March of Dimes does do today. It is still an advocate for prenatal care (albeit a governmental, socialized medicine model) and healthy pregnant women. They’ve pushed hard for awareness of the need for adequate pre-pregnancy and early pregnancy folic acid to prevent spina bifida.

But somewhere along the line, they lost their way. In 1973 abortion became legal. Suddenly, it was possible to kill an unborn baby before it was born. The intellectual leap to prenatal diagnosis of chromosome abnormalities and termination of those unborn not lucky enough to be perfect was a small one.

So the MOD made that leap. I can only imagine that they faced a real dilemma at that time and probably still do. They must have realized that advocating termination of the not-so-perfect would be a public relations nightmare. But they wanted to “prevent birth defects” and abortion was the perfect way. So, they just kept empahasizing their slogan. “Give to the March of Dimes. Help prevent birth defects.” Only now their slogan was a false one. If truth-in-advertising applied to them they would have to change it to: “Give to the March of Dimes. Help prevent babies from being born with birth defects.” But that just doesn’t have the good sound to it, does it.

Currently, the biggest funder of prenatal diagnosis clinics (search-and-destroy clinics may be a better term), according to a pro-life MFM specialist whom I know, is the March of Dimes.

But, just like the prenatal diagnosis clinics they are officially neutral on abortion. Officially, they are not for it or against it. (Wink, wink, nod, nod) They just fund these clinics so that a diagnosis can be made and then non-directive counseling given.

That’s just hogwash and everyone in OBGYN knows it. One pro-abort maternal fetal medicine specialist (MFM) let the cat out of the bag writing that prenatal diagnosis clinics would disappear if abortion weren’t available and legal. I’ve had prolife patients related encounters with this “non-dirctive counseling” after discovery by ultasound that their baby had spina bifida. After four, count them, four repeats of this counseling (they kept saying they would not abort), my patients husband stood told the doctor, “Look, doc. We’re not going to flush the kid. Now, what can you do for us?”

The members of the American Assn of Prolife OBGYNS’s have asked the March of Dimes to disavow abortion. They won’t.

So, the next time they have a walk to raise money for the March of Dimes, give pause before you donate.

One Response to “March of Dimes…so, tell me again. How Do You “Prevent” Birth Defects?”

  1. […] Some people at work have been asking for sponsors for a March of Dimes walkathon. I wondered about that organization’s stance on abortion, and I found Matt’s post on the subject. A March of Dimes slogan is “Give to the March of Dimes. Help prevent birth defects.” He suggests that a more accurate slogan for the March of Dimes might be “Give to the March of Dimes. Help prevent babies from being born with birth defects.” Insightful. [Read Matt's post on March of Dimes] […]

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