Planned Parenthood Made Our Family Possible, And We Aren't Even Patients

When preparing for a family, my wife and I learned that we were both carriers of a recessive gene for a genetic disorder called Tay-Sachs disease. The odds of this seemed astronomical, given my known ethnic background, but it can happen. (Note: My wife and I present no symptoms from this gene since we are just carriers.)

However, if we had children naturally there would be a 25 percent chance that our child would get the two bad genes and absolutely die, most often by the age of 4.

During those four years, parents to Tay-Sachs children watch them whither away, with endless, expensive health care treatments to try to sustain life, with ultimately no way to stop the disease from ultimately taking a child's life.

Thanks to our current laws and the state of reproductive medicine, we had the choice to pursue a different route that completely eliminated this risk, allowing us to have a healthy child with 0 percent risk of Tay-Sachs.

We were able to utilize in vitro fertilization (IVF) with pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to create and test embryos for Tay-Sachs before they were even transferred.

We could then definitively know which embryos where affected with the disease. We could know for sure that we didn't have a child with a death sentence. Ultimately, we had 5 embryos that survived until day 5, allowing them to be tested. Testing showed that 3 of those tested positive for the Tay-Sachs disease.

In other words, 3 of the 5 possibilities we had of having a child would have resulted in a child who would have been forced to slowly suffer, before losing their life to a terrible, painful disease.

Each embryo has a 25 percent chance of getting the disease. When our 5 embryos were tested, 60 percent of them actually had the deadly condition, against all odds."

Happy to be Tay-Sachs free!

Fast forward to today... Now, we have our beautiful, healthy 8-month-old daughter.

My wife and I were not patients at Planned Parenthood while we sought to build our family. But it is the kind of services that Planned Parenthood provides -- and legislation that Planned Parenthood helps lobby for  -- that allowed us to have our child safely and healthy. We need organizations like Planned Parenthood to help us all have healthy families.
The recent "pro-life" agenda (
,
,
, etc) makes it seem like Planned Parenthood is about death, when in fact the opposite is true. Planned Parenthood provides healthcare -- the kinds of care without which, people would not be able to live. And yes, this includes abortion care, which is a completely legal medical practice.

Abortion is a personal decision and a medical decision -- and a decision that should only be made by a patient in consultation with her physician. (Abortion also allows families who are unable to undergo IVF with PGD to end pregnancies once they find out in second trimester testing that they are carrying a fetus whose life would not be viable outside of the womb.)

The personhood laws that make abortion illegal would make it illegal for me to ensure a healthy child.

Planned Parenthood is about indiscriminately taking care of people's health and reproductive needs while forwarding healthcare science for a happier and healthier society.


"The personhood laws that make abortion illegal would make it illegal for me to ensure a healthy child."

The current "pro-life" agenda says they want to stop abortion, but the reality is they would stop reproductive science and health care at the same time. Science that can cure or prevent some of society's most horrific diseases.

With these "pro-life" laws, my wife and I would even not be able to create embryos and test for Tay-Sachs. To have a family, we would be legally forced to roll the dice.

If I had 25 percent chance of winning the lottery, I'd buy a ticket. Conversely, having 25 percent of watching my child slowly die for 4 years, it's not a risk that I'm comfortable taking.

Carrying the Tay-Sachs gene was clearly no choice of mine, and I never considered that I'd have to deal with this sort of matter when I fell in love with my wife. We are so very lucky that we live in the age we do and to have had access to the kinds of compassionate medical care we did. Everyone, everywhere, should be entitled to this same kind of ethical, legal, fact-based, and caring iteration of medicine.

Our country needs organizations like Planned Parenthood and the related science to help the millions of people dealing with thousands of different issues aside from my own. It's sometimes hard to understand what some families deal with until you see it first hand. I truly hope that our laws will continue to allow reproductive science to progress, building healthy and happy families.

For more information on genetic testing for Tay-Sachs and other genetic conditions, JScreen.org.

This post originally appeared on Medium.