On an unseasonably warm February day, the NFA conference room is full. Seated around the large table with the NFA team are six beautiful women who have known a common heartache: infant and pregnancy loss.

DaVinci’s sandwich wrappers and empty bags of chips are spread across the table. Lunch is now over, the conversation lulls, and it’s time to go to the Capitol. There’s a nervous energy in the air, but also hope.

These women are on a mission: to share their stories of loss with legislators, so that others who face the same heartache might have easier access to the available resources of perinatal hospice care.

Perinatal Hospice Provides Hope for “Hopeless” Pregnancies

I remember the day so clearly because our team got to do something unique. We had the opportunity to support this courageous group of women. They came to the Capitol to support LB506. If passed, this bill would encourage doctors to provide information about perinatal hospice to expecting parents when their baby is diagnosed in utero with a life-limiting illness.

As prenatal testing continues to advance, fetal anomalies are detected at earlier and earlier stages in pregnancy. When a baby in the womb is diagnosed with a fatal medical condition, parents are given few options.

Perinatal hospice is an innovative model of care. It provides support focused on comfort and compassion from the time of diagnosis, through the birth and the postpartum period. Instead of encouraging women to terminate their pregnancy, it helps families to make memories that last a lifetime.

During the committee hearing for LB506, these “loss mamas” tenderly shared with senators how they learned their baby’s diagnosis and how few options were provided.

Related: LB506 Would Ensure Women Know About Perinatal Hospice Care

Each of these women was told abortion was a reasonable choice, and for most it was inferred that’s how they would proceed. But none were told about perinatal hospice.

That’s why LB506 is important. One of the women who testified shared with the NFA team that she was told her daughter was incompatible with life. “I was in shock, wasn’t offered anything else, and made to feel like I’d be strange to continue [the pregnancy]. Like, everyone with that condition terminates so that was a given that’s what I would do.”

And these women’s stories made the difference. The bill advanced from the Health and Human Services Committee 7-0. The bill’s introducer, Senator Joni Albrecht, representative of District 17, has also prioritized the bill.

Senator Albrecht shared how this issue has directly impacted her family. Her daughter’s first child was diagnosed with a medical condition at 18 weeks gestation. Clinging to faith her daughter carried to term and Senator Albrecht now has a healthy grandchild.

“Many parents faced with a similar diagnosis feel adrift,” Senator Albrecht said, “with little understanding of their options. Being provided with resources for emotional and spiritual support would help families dramatically.”

A founder of Healing Embrace, an organization in Nebraska that offers perinatal hospice, put it this way: “Nobody walks away with regrets. When that baby is here, you acknowledge every perfect thing about them, because, in our mama’s eyes our babies are perfect, regardless of what they looked like.”

This is just one more area we are seeing the positive impact a culture of life can have on families. Our team is honored to be able to support LB506 and the courageous women who are sharing their stories.

To continue this important work we rely on your generosity. NFA is 100% donor funded. Would you consider a donation today? Your gift can save lives and empowers women and families facing a life-limiting diagnosis.

 

 

Karen Bowling

Karen Bowling

Executive Director at Nebraska Family Alliance
When Karen isn't fulfilling her duties as the Executive Director of NFA, leading a women's Bible study, or coordinating a prayer meeting, she's usually with her four grand children that keep her busy, laughing, and young at heart.
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