This week, Sarah Palin gave a phone interview with Dr. James Dobson. You can listen to the whole interview here. A part two to the interview is available here.
I cannot shake the feeling that this is yet another false statement.
Gov. Palin does not state here specifically that she had amniocentesis performed. I did not have time this morning to review every source, but I cannot pin down if she EVER actually said that she had an amnio done. It's been assumed, but has she ever said it? What she has said repeatedly is "early testing." If someone can provide me with a link where she is quoted as having said that she had an amnio, I would appreciate it. Here's what was actually said in People.
PEOPLE: Gov. Palin, when you were 13 weeks pregnant, last December, you had an amniocentesis that determined Trig had Down syndrome.
SARAH: I was grateful to have all those months to prepare. I can't imagine the moms that are surprised at the end. I think they have it a lot harder.
First, she did not correct the statement that she had an amnio, but she did not confirm it either. Second, if she was due May 15th, she would have been significantly farther along in December, 17-20 weeks. She would have been thirteen weeks the first week in November. Significant? Not really. It's just one more thing that's a "little bit" wrong. Why can nothing this woman says be really transparent or clear? Why could she not have said, "Well, actually, that was wrong. The test was performed in November."? She might not remember the exact date, but she's going to know during which calendar month and how many weeks pregnant she was when she had the test!
Here's a brief paragraph that describes the risks of early amniocentesis.
This and subsequent reports from the trial demonstrated that compared to midtrimester amniocentesis, early amniocentesis was associated with a 4-fold risk of a technically difficult (twice the risk of requiring multiple needle insertions) or unsuccessful procedure (1.6% vs. 0.4%), a 10-fold risk of chromosome culture failure (2.4% vs. 0.25%), a higher rate of fluid leakage following the procedure (3.5% vs. 1.7%), a greater risk for pregnancy losses (7.6% vs. 5.9%), and a significantly higher risk (1.3% vs. 0.1%) of having a baby with talipes equinovarus (club foot).
There is another test that is often performed early in pregnancy, Chorionic Villus Sampling. In this test, a small piece of placental tissue is extracted, either through the cervix using a small catheter, or through the abdominal wall, using a needle. I don't want to bog this post down with a lot of medical information, as there are many internet sources for more info if you want it, but the research I reviewed this morning seems to indicate that transabdominal is safer and is typically the procedure that is done. Ultrasound is always used in conjunction with the procedure to guide the technician. In most sources, the procedure is listed as having between a 1 in 100 and 1 in 200 risk of causing a miscarriage.
Other studies will show slightly different results. But there is NO doubt that early amniocentesis and early CVS both carry higher risks than traditional later procedures.
Every source I have been able to find agrees on one thing: the only reason to do testing this early is to allow women who have some reason to believe there might be a problem to opt for abortion sooner, when the procedure is less traumatic. There is absolutely no medical reason for someone who will not abort to do the test this early, when there is a greater risk of CAUSING ABORTION. No medical reason. Period.
Most pro-life women choose to skip invasive testing completely.
By claiming that she was tested at thirteen weeks, Sarah Palin has opened herself for some serious questioning. Of course, no one seems to be doing it! I sense that there must be an undercurrent of discomfort and the "whoa!" factor among a lot of pro-life women who are at the same time, unwilling to call her on it.
If Sarah Palin was truly pregnant, the only reason I can think of for her to have testing that early would be so that she could abort early if there was a problem, which of course would call her entire public commitment to the pro-life movement to be called into question.
I have stated earlier on this blog that I think this early testing statement was in fact made to cover for an inexplicably long period between when she should have known she was pregnant (say from seven-eight weeks (early October) at the latest) and when she would have found out that Trig had Down's (which would have traditionally not been until mid or late December, ten weeks later) during which she told no one she was pregnant. She has claimed that she told no one because she was struggling to come to terms with the fact that she was going to have a "special" child. And certainly, one can accept that for privacy reasons she may not have announced it to the entire state of Alaska at this point.
But if she had known for ten weeks that she WAS pregnant, but did NOT know her unborn child had Down's, the story falls apart on the personal level. What woman wouldn't tell her own mother (who she is supposedly quite close to)? Her sisters? Her teenaged daughters? Some trusted staff members?
I suggest two possibilities. Either Gov. Palin was never pregnant at all, and this entire tale is a fabrication
Gov. Palin was pregnant but actually never knew that Trig had Down's, and all of this has been put out to enhance the pro-life credentials.
Because for a pro-life woman, testing at thirteen weeks makes no sense whatsoever.