Louisiana Hospital Denies Abortion to Mother Carrying Fetus Without a Skull

A Louisiana mother said she was denied an abortion after her baby was diagnosed with a rare condition that it likely won't survive, local news outlet WAFB reported Tuesday.

Nancy Davis, who is pregnant with her second child, told the local outlet that she got her first ultrasound at the 10-week mark of her pregnancy at the Women's Hospital in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, when medical staff noticed something unusual.

Baby's Skull Failed to Form

Pregnant Baby Bump Belly Pregnancy to-be-mother
Representational image / Pixabay

"It was an abnormal ultrasound, and they noticed the top of the baby's head was missing and the skull was missing, the top of the skull was missing," Davis told WAFB.

Davis' baby was diagnosed with acrania, a rare and fatal congenital disorder in which a fetus' skull partially or completely fails to form, and is an un survivable condition with a mortality rate of almost 100%," according to the International Journal of Reproduction, Contraception, Obstetrics, and Gynecology.

After the fall of the 1973 landmark ruling Roe v. Wade, which protected a women's right to an abortion, Louisiana was among a number of conservative states that issued a complete ban on abortions in the state, save for situations in which the mother's life is endangered by the pregnancy or if the fetus has a certain condition.

Davis hoped that this was one of the conditions that qualifies as an exception under the state's abortion laws. However, the hospital called to tell her it would not be able to perform the abortion, she said. The hospital directed her to a Florida abortion clinic instead, or to carry the baby to term.

Acrania does not appear on the state's list of accepted conditions for abortion. But the state also has a broad exception for any "profound and irremediable congenital or chromosomal anomaly existing in the unborn child that is incompatible with sustaining life after birth in reasonable medical judgment."

"In the absence of additional guidance, we must look at each patient's individual circumstances and remain in compliance with all current state laws to the best of our ability," said Caroline Isemann, a hospital spokesperson, in a statement.

'I'm Carrying to Bury It'

"It's hard knowing that ... you know, I'm carrying it to bury it," she told WAFB. Davis, who is now 13 weeks along in her pregnancy, told the outlet that she is faced with the decision of carrying the fetus to term — just for it to survive within minutes of her pregnancy — or crossing state lines to get an abortion.

"Florida is the closest...so ideally Florida. But then the next closest place would be North Carolina or something," Davis said. Florida permits abortions up until the 15th week of pregnancy, and North Carolina up to the 20th week.

The Louisiana mother said she hopes her case will prompt state lawmakers in Louisiana to consider expanding their list of fetal conditions for an abortion to prevent future cases similar to hers. "I just want them to consider special circumstances as it relates to abortion...medical problems, like this, is one that needs to be in that," Davis told the local news outlet.

Join the Discussion
READ MORE