1st person account of regret of aborting disabled child

This essay in the Daily Mail today, isn't an apparently religiously motivated essay of repentance, just the mourning of a mother who regretted murdering, her word, her baby diagnosed with Trisomy 13,(see this link of another family's celebration of their baby's brief life with Trisomy 18).

She writes,

He would have extra digits and a heart defect. For the first child I conceived had Patau's syndrome - also known as trisomy 13, which affects one in 10,000 births.

The condition typically results in death either before birth, at birth, or in the following few days. Those with the syndrome can survive, though rarely, into young adulthood, and that possibility has been enough to fuel my dreams of what might have been...

Yet all this can only ever be conjecture, for I had a termination in my 13th week of pregnancy, two weeks before the turn of the millennium.

`It was an experience that has scarred me in ways I could never have anticipated. Put simply: my decision and its consequences have tortured me for the past nine years.

I've been unable to talk about it easily, unless with a drink in hand, let alone write about the experience. This is partly because I have felt out-of-step with the rest of the world, where the validity of abortion is a given for millions of people - especially women - and to admit to being uneasy about this seems to make you a traitor to any notion of 'sisterhood'.

Yet also, and this is the crucial point, because of an overwhelming and isolating sense of shame. Almost from the moment I awoke from the anaesthetic, I have deeply regretted my decision. Whichever way I looked at it, it felt then and it feels now like murder.

When I signed the consent form that permitted staff to perform a termination, I killed my first child. Why? Because he would have been born disabled. What a terrible admission that is.

Although I suspect a few other women may be quietly nodding their heads in recognition, I'm not sure the majority of people will understand or sympathise with me. Some will find my action abhorrent; some do not approve of anyone criticising abortions...

As I was already 12 weeks pregnant, waiting any longer would mean having to endure labour, rather than a 'neat' termination under general anaesthetic. I felt confident that he was right; that misdiagnosis was impossible.

What nobody told me, then or later, was that not everybody terminates such a pregnancy. That I could have gone on and carried the baby to fullterm. The baby might even have survived for years - albeit with a serious and life-limiting set of disabilities...

It dawned on me that once we had decided not to go ahead with tests for Down's or anything else, I had stopped worrying about how our child would turn out. She was going to be our baby; and as long as she was born alive, everything else could be dealt with.

In the past nine years, not a week has gone by when I haven't thought of him

I'm not trying to underplay the enormous work and sacrifices that many families must undergo when they have a disabled child - how could I? And I'm certainly not sitting in judgment of families who do choose to terminate such a pregnancy and are at peace with their decision...


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