Abortion Laws Change Pregnancies In a Big Way

More patients are seeking early prenatal diagnostics, including ultrasounds and genetic tests, as a result of new state abortion regulations.

More and more Utah patients seeking maternal-fetal care are opting for early ultrasounds to identify potentially life-threatening complications so they may make an informed decision about whether to continue the pregnancy or terminate it.

Early genetic testing in North Carolina is becoming increasingly popular, although they do not give a definitive diagnosis. Roughly 14 states prohibit or severely limit abortion after a specific point in the pregnancy, meaning that millions of women there cannot obtain follow-up diagnostic testing promptly to consider having an abortion there if they so desire. When it comes to mid-pregnancy ultrasounds, even more states have abortion cutoffs that are too early.

The 20-week ultrasound is a usual screening for congenital abnormalities; it examines the fetal heart, brain, spine, and limbs, among other areas. In some instances, a diagnosis cannot be reached without further testing.

Depending on the patient’s risk level, the practice’s technology, and their regulations, the type and timing of ultrasounds might differ. Having an abortion is still an option, but more people are getting ultrasounds between 10 and 13 weeks to be sure they have one.

Genetic screenings, which also go under the name “non-invasive prenatal tests,” examine the mother’s blood for tiny DNA fragments that may indicate fetal DNA abnormalities. The chromosomal abnormalities that these tests look for include Down syndrome and trisomy 13 and 18, which are associated with an increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth and an abnormal number of sex chromosomes or their absence. No one test can be used as a diagnostic tool, and their accuracy varies from disease to condition.

Prenatal test results are presented as either “high risk” or “low risk,” according to Natera, one of the few U.S. firms that provides such genetic tests. Patients should seek confirmation testing if they obtain a “high risk” result. According to physicians, while some could be very reliable, false positives happen.