Four months ago, I received a frantic phone call from the ML family in Ashdod. Mrs. ML., beside herself, was sobbing so hard that she was barely comprehensible. She had waited 8 long years to be blessed with a pregnancy, which now was in the 6th month. All her girlfriends had long since become mothers several times over, and Mrs. ML yearned to have a baby of her own. A tremendous gray cloud hovered over her dream...
Speaking to me on her cell phone from the local kupat cholim, the government-subsidized medical center, she wailed, "Rabbi, I just had a sonogram (in Israel, we call it an ultrasound); the doctor says that the baby doesn't have a heatbeat! He wants me to abort right away! What do I do?"
It was the day after Tu B'Av, what secular Israel calls "Love Day." "The doctor's probably got a hangover," I told Mrs. ML; "Besides, when's the last time you felt the baby kicking?" I probed. She answered that she felt tiny feet tickling her abdominal wall a few minutes before the doctor's examination. "Yishtabach Shmo," I answered in Hebrew, praising Hashem's name, "the baby couldn't be moving and yet lacking pulse. Don't worry, with The Almighty's help, you're going to be a mother." I spent the next ten minutes calming her down, and assuring her that with The Almighty's infinite lovingkindness, everything would be OK.
A week ago, Mrs. ML gave birth to a rosy cheeked 7lb.-10 oz. baby girl. Had Mrs. ML listened to the doctor, little Chaviva, named after her great-grandmother who perished in the Nazi Holocaust, would never have been born. More bluntly, little Chaviva would have been negligently slaughtered.
Since 2005, I've had the privilege of saving over two dozen babies from the gloomy fate of misread, mistaken, and misinterpreted sonograms. During my twelve years with Rabbi Shalom Arush, I've seen my esteemed and beloved teacher and spiritual guide save hundreds of babies from a similar fate.
Wikipedia writes, "Depending on the skill of the sonographer, ultrasound may suffer from a high rate of false negatives and false positives, that means care has to be taken in interpreting the accuracy of the scan."
If a plumber misjudges the exact location of a leak in your pipe, the worst-case scenario is a bigger hole in your wall and a bigger patching job thereafter. In the case of a misjudged or misinterpreted sonogram that leads to a terminated pregnancy, there is no patch job - the damage is irreversible.
Ultrasound Magazine, a strong proponent of obstetric ultrasonogarphy, published an article entitled, "The role of ultrasound imaging in diagnosing and investigating early pregnancy failure" in their April, 2005 online issue. They conclude, "No single ultrasound measurement of the different anatomical features in the first trimester has been shown to have a high predictive value for determining early pregnancy outcome. Similarly, Doppler studies have failed to demonstrate abnormal blood flow indices in the first-trimester uteroplacental circulation of pregnancies that subsequently end in miscarriage. Ultrasound parameters combined with maternal serum hormone levels, maternal age, smoking habits, obstetric history and the occurrence of vaginal bleeding have all been combined in multivariate analyses, with mixed results." In other words, the doctors are guessing. In practical terms, if an expectant mother is in her mid thirties or older, and the doctor doesn't think that the sonogram looks perfect, he's likely to advise her to abort.
Dr. "Pesach" is assistant head of obstetric medicine at one Israel's leading hospitals. Dr. Pesach gave me an inside picture on what goes on in Obstetric Ultrasonography over here: "In Israel, the abortion laws are the most liberal anywhere. The government and the kupot cholim (medical insurance companies) prefer the relatively minor cost of an ultrasound and pregnancy termination to the tremendous expenses of treating and raising a child with a birth defect. So, any time a doctor has the slightest doubt as to the health of the fetus, he recommends termination. The non-religious comply almost always. The religious ask their rabbis - you guys know what you answer."
According to Dr. Pesach, approximately half of the 20,000-plus abortions in Israel annually are a result of what doctors consider imperfect sonograms. That means that doctors give the thumbs-down sign to more than 10,000 babies in Israel every year.
Do you know what the annual death of 10,000 babies means? Let me put things in proportion: Israeli Government statistics show that in the four-and-a-half year Entifada period between September 29, 2000 and April 1, 2005, Magen David Adom (the Israeli Red Cross) treated a treated a total of 7,253 casualties as follows: 953 killed, 596 severely injured, 881 moderately and 4,823 lightly injured, among them 11 MDA staff members. In other words, there are more victims of unfavorable and/or mistaken obstetric sonograms in Israel in one year, than all the terrorist victims and casualties of five years of active Arab terror! It turns out that the doctors are a lot more dangerous than the Fatah and the Hamas combined! Who would believe it?!?
Medical institutions have praised the sonogram as a harmless device. Studies show otherwise: After discovering that ultrasounds cause bleeding and cell mutation in laboratory animals, New Scientist magazine was quoted by Mercola in saying, "It would certainly seem prudent to avoid all routine absolutely unnecessary ultrasound scans for fetal observation. There appears to be more than enough evidence to warrant this recommendation. Pregnancy complications are another issue and one would have to weigh all the factors individually when attempting to determine the benefit/risk ratio."
Having investigated the concrete relationship between a series of dangers in ultrasound sonogramming, Dr. Joseph Mercola, renowned author of the Total Health Program writes, "It sure seems that the time for routine ultrasound examinations has come and gone." The Melitzer Rebbe agrees wholeheartedly.
Oftentimes, the mother's stress and anxiety that results from a doctor's misread sonogram damages the fetus. Stress and anxiety wreak havoc on the unborn.
This sonogram shows little Nissim S. from Jerusalem, who today is 18 months old. The doctors told Nissim's mom that she must abort, because Nissim only has half a left leg. Mrs. S. was beside herself with grief, and called Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef shlit"a. Rabbi Ovadiah gave her a promise that the baby would be born healthy, with G-d's help. And so he was! In the sonogram, you see little 13-week-old Nissim giving his mother a kick with his extended right foot. The doctor drew the hasty conclusion that the left leg was deficient and deformed.
If your doctor wants you to have a sonogram, first ask him why, and then call a competent rabbi. If the rabbi gives you the OK, then go ahead. If not, tell the doctor to have a nice day, but forego the sonogram. If a mother is healthy and happy, then she doesn't need needless probing. Sonograms add nothing to the health of your unborn child.
In all fairness, sonograms do have an important function. They help save abortions. Indeed, when women who are considering abortion see a sonogram, and the indisputable scientific evidence of live action within the womb, Shari Richard, a pioneer in helping Pregnancy Centers with sonograms says, "Sixty percent of her patients choose not to have an abortion." (Focus On The Family, January 2003, A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words).
In short, if a woman wants her baby, keep her away from sonograms. If she doesn't want her baby, send her to someone like Shari Richard for a songram.
Do babies enjoy sonograms? New Scientist magazine writes, "Ultrasound examinations during pregnancy expose the fetus to a sound as loud as that made by a subway train coming into a station." Don't expect your unborn to thank you for the "pleasure" of an ultrasound. For him or her, it's like appearing on the selection line in front of Dr. Mengele. Let's put a stop to the indiscriminate and erroneous slaughter of the innocent unborn.