“We Advise an Abortion”

A common reason given for why we must have legal abortion involves the so-called hard cases. One of these concerns possible birth defects or abnormalities, such as Tay-Sachs disease, sickle-cell anemia, Down’s syndrome (Mongolism), etc.

We have various tests for these conditions, such as amniocentesis. But testing is often subject to error. I know of a number of women who were told by their doctor that the baby they were carrying was at risk of some defect or abnormality, and abortion was recommended. Many of these women rejected this advice, and to their delight delivered perfectly healthy babies.

But increasingly abortion is nonetheless being used when a parent is told a child may have a physical or mental disorder. Indeed, it is already becoming a common method of sex selection. However, there are a number of questions which arise here.

One involves the idea that handicapped children are social liabilities. Who says so? Indeed, what is normal? Is a child with only one arm less than a person? Is a deaf child a social burden? Many handicapped or deformed children, along with their families, have shared of the rich and rewarding lives they have lived. If we decide that society cannot accept a child with Down’s syndrome today, what will we prohibit tomorrow? Redheads? Dwarfs?

Dr C Everett Koop has spent much of his life working with ‘deformed’ and handicapped people. He says that it is his “constant experience that disability and unhappiness do not necessarily go together. Some of the most unhappy children whom I have known have all of the physical and mental faculties and on the other hand some of the happiest youngsters have borne burdens which I myself would find very difficult to bear”.

Moreover, who decides who should live and who should die? Those who decide that certain handicapped children deserve to die may also decide that certain adults who are handicapped also deserve to die. Indeed, infanticide and euthanasia are logical outcomes of the arguments for abortion. Bear in mind that before Hitler started killing the Jews, he had 275,000 handicapped people murdered.

No one has the right to decide that another human being is not fit to live. This is especially true since a doctor’s diagnosis can prove to be incorrect. As mentioned, there are many stories of a mother being counselled to have an abortion to prevent the birth of an unhealthy child. Fortunately, the doctor’s advice was ignored and a perfectly normal baby was born.

One such story appeared in the press recently. Entitled, “We killed our healthy baby,” it tells the tragic story of a young Melbourne couple who were told by their doctors that the baby being carried would die of a terminal genetic abnormality. They aborted their son at twelve weeks, only to learn later that the diagnosis for the rare Menkes disease had been mistaken, and they had killed a perfectly healthy baby. They are now suing the doctors and hospital involved.

And handicapped people certainly do not support abortion. There is not one “national organisation for parents of handicapped children that is on record as favouring abortion for the handicapped. In short, it is not the handicapped (or their parents) who want abortions for those who may be handicapped; it is those who are not handicapped. But should not the handicapped be allowed to speak for themselves?”

But the stories of women who said no to their doctors and instead kept the baby are the most telling here, so let me offer a few more here. One recent article out of England told of three such cases. In each situation the doctors made it clear that abortion was the preferred option, but each of the three mothers refused, and they now have perfectly healthy and wonderful children.

Let me offer portions of each story. Kirsty was told that she had to destroy two of her triplets to ensure she’d keep one of them. The doctor “recommended that the best chance of having one healthy child was ‘selective reduction’ – terminating the identical pair….

“But how could we kill two of the babies inside me – the babies we’d watched wriggling around on the sonographer’s screen, whose hearts we’d heard beating, and who we already loved? When we met the second consultant a few days later, he spelled out the risks again, but this time focused on the fact that there was still an 80 per cent chance that if we continued with the pregnancy one or more of the babies would survive….

“The consultant wrote to our original specialist that we’d refused termination and that he’d be caring for me. From then on, the pregnancy was complication-free. We had the babies by planned caesarean at 34 weeks, each of them weighing over 5lbs. Now Austin and identical pair Ellis and Jensen are healthy 15-month-olds, all meeting their targets.

“Austin is inquisitive and energetic like his daddy, while Ellis is dramatic like me, and Jensen is the clown who likes to make people laugh. When we look at the boys, asleep in their cots at night, I can’t help lingering on how differently it might have turned out. It’s just too upsetting to think about.”

Anne Marie was pressured by her doctor not to keep her Down’s syndrome baby. She begins, “Watching Ella beam with pleasure, her piercing blue eyes sparkling as her adored big sister sings Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to her, it’s incomprehensible that most of the doctors I saw when I was pregnant were quite resolute in their advice: that I should abort her.”

The article continues, “How could we destroy our baby? But back at the hospital, the doctors wouldn’t let the subject of an abortion drop, even after we made our wishes clear. It felt like water torture – there was a constant drip-drip-drip of negativity at every consultation or scan. One doctor told us: ‘Your lives will never be your own.’ Another said: ‘Some people will feel you’re being selfish by having this child.’ Yet another: ‘Your other child will suffer as a result of this.’ We were made to feel very naïve….

“Ella was born on April 2, 2012, and we fell in love with her immediately. Surgery to repair her heart defect when she was four months old was a success. Now, despite being about four months behind in her development, in many ways she’s just like any other baby. She loves playing with bubbles at bathtime and listening to music.

“Our lives, although different and sometimes challenging, aren’t any less happy because of Ella. Our family and most of our friends have been amazing. The few friends who disapproved of our choice won’t feature in our lives again. Ella adores her big sister and Imogen in turn is devoted to her baby sister. None of us could imagine life without Ella. I shudder when I think how easy it would have been to give in to the pressure to terminate her.”

And finally, Fiona was advised her baby might be disabled and she should consider aborting. “By any standards, Joshua is a high-achieving teenager. As well as running for Sheffield and South Yorkshire, he’s predicted to get As or A+s in his 12 GCSEs this summer and has just won a scholarship to study A-levels at a private school.

“Like any mum, I’m very proud of him – but particularly so considering just 11 weeks before he was due, I was asked if I wanted to end the pregnancy and warned that if I did carry him to term, he might be severely disabled…. One of the doctors asked: ‘Do you want to continue with the pregnancy?’ He didn’t explicitly use the word abortion, but it was clear that was what he meant.

“I vividly remember a feeling of profound shock as those words sunk in. ‘Did they really just offer me a termination?’ I thought. Nobody ever spelled out what an abortion at 29 weeks would have involved, though presumably I would have had to give birth to my dead baby….

“Because he was at such risk, Joshua was born by Caesarean section at 32 weeks in March 1997. He was immediately put on a ventilator in intensive care and remained in hospital for eight weeks. Yet, although his development was slightly delayed because he was a premature baby, essentially he was perfectly healthy and amazingly unscathed by what had happened to him in the womb.

“We were very fortunate. Even now I feel emotional when I think back. Given what we were being told, it would have been understandable if we’d chosen a different course of action. I feel so very grateful that we decided to follow our hearts and keep our baby.”

No further commentary is needed – these stories say it all.


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12 Replies to ““We Advise an Abortion””

  1. We were heavily pressured to “look into our options” with our 3rd child after some “strong signs” of a Chromosomal defect at the 18 week scan and we refused to go any further. I was sent photocopies of info on what our baby would be like with the particular Trisomy condition, how long he/she would live etc and the Dr was very irritated when I insisted I would not abort no matter what. We prayed for the remaining 4 months and This baby is now 11 years old and the delight or our lives. She was whisked away after birth for checks and scans and was found to be completely normal.

    Jo Deller

  2. You have touched on a particular passion of mine Bill. Healthy babies, some with special needs, dispatched heavenward like sacred flotsam and jetsam, deemed not fit for earthly habitation.

    There is no fear of God, is there? Until parents believe what God says, nothing can change. God says every baby is a blessing and a reward, no exceptions.

    Doctors and other prenatal testing “specialists” are NOT God. They are fallible, merely human, purely technicians and not the parents of the child in question.

    FACT: All prenatal testing is unreliable.

    FACT: Every baby is a blessing and a reward from God. Whether that child lives a few days in the womb, a few minutes after birth, a week or a lifetime on the earth, always a blessing, always a gift from God.

    Thanks for another thought provoking blog post. I pray all parents consider the facts, not just the “expert” opinion, and choose life and be blessed beyond measure.

    Lynn Nerdal

  3. A young client of mine and her husband were nothing short of harrassed to terminate their first child after scans showed him to have anencephaly. They went on to give birth to their beautiful baby boy and love him enough for a lifetime in his few hours of life. They wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world. Now in their second pregnancy, they have had to fight to refuse prenatal tests and scans.

    This kind of coercion of people, at their most vulnerable is abhorrent.

    Debbie Garrat

  4. Thanks Debbie

    Yes I too have known couples with an anencephalic baby. They too resisted the doctor’s warnings, and enjoyed, named, loved and cuddled their baby – even if only for hours.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  5. Two competing and contradictory notions of kindness are at large in our world: For the first, compassion means suffering with the sufferer and alleviating the suffering without exterminating the sufferer. For the second, suffering is an unacceptable disempowerment of humanity – a disempowerment of people’s individual autonomy which can easily be eliminated by eliminating both the sufferer and his or her suffering. This latter Nietzschean “love for humanity” is the kind of “philanthropy” also appealed to in support of Voluntary Euthanasia, where individual autonomy in end-of-life choices is allegedly the prime motive for claiming a right-to-die.
    John Wigg

  6. It is an awful reality that many people who would show contempt for the Aryan goals of the Nazi’s and the Neo’s too are doing exactly as they did, only their targets are younger. Our society seeks to remove any trace of human perceived imperfection on the one hand while increasingly encouraging those perceived as good enough to live into unhealthy, destructive lifestyles on the other. And this is the great wisdom of modern humanity?
    Simon Fox

  7. Before retiring a couple of years ago, I spent 11 years as a disability support worker and helped to care for and encourage many Down Syndrome people. I greatly enjoyed working with these affectionate and endearing folk.
    Nor are they necessarily impaired severely. Many Down’s adults these days have jobs with regular employers, who appreciate them because of their diligence and their willingness to do basic or repetitive tasks which “normal” staff dislike. I know of a young lady with the syndrome who has gained her driver’s licence.
    Most of those whom I supported were born around 35 to 60 years ago, and it almost makes me cry to think that, if today’s attitudes and practices had existed in those times, many of these lovely people would not have seen the light of day.
    Down Syndrome is a chromosome disorder, present at birth, and caused by the little one having an extra copy of Chromosome 21. The syndrome cannot be passed on from parent to child. There are various websites on Google which explain the syndrome in more detail. ( I advise reading two or more sites, as they sometimes differ slightly in their descriptions etc.)
    The condition was first described in 1866 by the English physician Dr John Langdon Down. Ironically, it was due to his research and that of his son (also a doctor) which led to the term “Mongoloidism”, based on the preposterous theories then in vogue with regard to the supposed characteristics of human ethnic groups. Darwinism was partly to blame for this. The term “Mongoloid” (highly racist and offensive) was dropped officially in the early 1960s in favour of Down or Down’s Syndrome.
    Bill, I too have read of many cases where mothers refused advice to abort based on pre-natal screening, and gave birth to perfectly normal babies.
    Our society is going to pieces rather quickly and we must thank God for modern-day prophets like yourself who keep us informed and give us warning. It is a sad reflection on our mainstream media that we have to go to sites like yours to find out what is really going on out there.

    Brian Pratt

  8. Thank you for gathering these testimonies together, Bill. My sister, too, was told her first baby would have Downs and would be ‘no better than a pet’. She rejected that slovenly specialist’s guidance, and as it happens my nephew does not have Downs. The pressure parents are under from tidy-minded medicos, whose privileged social class really has no place for ‘inferior’ babies – is very ugly.

    Just as a point of ethical classification, abortion for disability is better understood as euthanasia – pre-natal euthanasia for ‘quality of life’ reasons. Just as those Melbourne academics called infanticide of disabled babies “after-birth abortion”, so this is “before-birth euthanasia”. We can only respect the courage and tenderness of those parents who put unconditional love above the eugenic expectations of the medical profession.

    David van Gend

  9. “My sister, too, was told her first baby would have Downs and would be ‘no better than a pet’.”

    Well, even pets can be happy if their needs are cared for and they bring positives to our lives.

    People make the mistake of believing ‘happiness’ has to mean what it means to them, when in fact it is relative only to the experiences and circumstances of an individual.

    I watched a beautiful documentary a while back about a group of intelectually handicapped teenagers preparing, with their teachers’ help, for a school dance. If these kids weren’t happy, despite their challenges, then they were darn good actors. (I still smile and laugh when I think of one of the boys very interested in cows. Wanted a tattoo of a Fresian on one arm & a Jersey on the other!!!!)

    Can’t remember what it was called; maybe someone can remember.

    David Williams

  10. Jill Stanek tells a story about a young child, diagnosed with spina bifida, who had been aborted. It survived the abortion procedure, however. Upon inspection… it didn’t have spina bifida at all. It was a perfectly healthy baby- and it was still alive. The reason for the wrong diagnosis was that the baby had had a twin that died in the womb, giving off chemical markers normally associated with spina bifida.

    Megan F. Meyers

  11. Our ninth child has Downs. Thankfully we live in a place where I was never pressured to even have that special ultrasound in order to determine if there might be a problem with the baby, though I was 47 when I was pregnant with him. The only benefit I could have derived from an earlier knowledge of the condition would have been to prayerfully prepare for the arrival for one of these special gifts of God. But with the unreliability of such tests that could have been 5 months of needless concern too. Our family would be unimaginable without our happy fun-loving mischievous 6 year old and many people from school and the taxi company that takes him to school every day have noted how loved he is and how much love he likes to share around.
    At least for those who are born with a disability these days or at least in our neck of the woods, much support is available in that situation at least is better than it was 20 years ago.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  12. We decided when I was pregnant with my first not to have the DS test. Third time around I was offered the test 8 times in the first trimester. Next time I’m getting a big “NO” written on my file at my first appointment. I now try to limit ante-natal testing to tests that will help doctors care for my baby, if the only purpose of the test is to decide whether to abort or not I’m not interested.
    We live in a double-minded society where there are things such as the special olympics and government programs to educate people on the worth of people with disabilities and to encourage acceptance of born people who are different while those in the womb are considered not worth living or killed out of ‘compassion’ because their lives would be difficult.
    Any argument for killing imperfect babies falls down as soon as you give them the rights of a born human. At least for now no-one would agree that it was OK to kill a born human because an accident or illness left them brain damaged, blind, deaf, or limbless. We don’t kill them because their lives are to hard. We don’t kill them because we can’t afford their medical care. We don’t kill them because their disability is unfair to the other children in the family. And so we should not kill the unborn for any of these reasons either.

    Kylie Anderson

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