Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Something I Want To Say

August 22nd 2011

Today I read a post on a Dandy-Walker forum by a sibling of a young man who lives with Dandy-Walker asking parents to consider abortion more seriously as the way to go after getting an in-utero diagnosis. She defended the position that practically all doctors push for termination as the preferable option.( I have yet to come across a DW family who were encouraged to welcome the baby by an obstetrician) Her reason for this request is that she wishes her mother had aborted her brother because then HER life would be better.
This shocking post set me thinking and I have been mulling over it all afternoon, so here are my thoughts, some of which I posted on the forum.

The day we heard about Louise's problems we were broken hearted. The option was immediately presented to us that many people would 'go to England'. Several times during my pregnancy I was asked by friends 'did I have to have a termination?' Our Obstetric visits were like a psychological warfare as to who was going to win out...Louise in this instance was lucky that there was NO chink in her parents united armour but I can clearly see how a frightened, terrified mother could easily be pressured or bullied into making that irreversible decision.

On the journey home the first day I said to John that I hoped the baby would die quickly rather than in my arms after birth because although it would rip my heart in two, it would be a miscarriage and I knew I could cope with that, having lived through it so many times before.
A few days later I told John I didn't want her to die quickly, I wanted her to get to the age she's be considered a stillbirth so that she'd at least have a birth certificate and thus be recognised by the state as having passed through.


So it took me those good few days to work through my emotions. Even though abortion was never for a split second on the cards, my initial emotional wish to get the problem over with in the easiest way. It took those few days of tears, prayer, talking etc for the maternal desire to fight at all cost to myself for my little child who was in trouble to really kick in. Had I not been steadfast in my position that life is not ours to take away, Louise would have been 'terminated' before I had a chance to reach the third and most overwhelming position.

Researching DW online I came across a medical paper which indicated that 92% of babies like Louise are aborted and we are all fully aware of the rapidly decreasing numbers of babies with Down's Syndrome being born with a lot of western countries having a routine seek and find screening programme to ensure as few as possible slip through.

So this is what I wrote in reply to that loving older sister's long post:

The first rule of medicine is 'Do No Harm' I can think of no greater harm than to deliberately take the life of an innocent child who has done no wrong other than to fail to reach the standard of perfection deemed necessary by our western medical system and by the eugenic attitude that has seeped into and become entrenched in our culture. Whose decision is it to determine whose lives are worth living and whose are not?

I sat beside an overseas obstetrician at a medical dinner one Christmas and he was boasting to me (18 days pre delivery) how pre-natal testing is helping reduce the cases of Down's Syndrome. I asked him were they curing Downs then ? (knowing of course that they weren't) 'Oh no, they can be terminated...'
I replied that they could eradicate every known illness in that way. By killing every blind person, is blindness then cured? Of course not, you just have a lot of dead people and a lot of doctors who have done something which has no place in medicine.

Quality of life is not for us to determine, when I was pregnant with my baby who has DW 'quality of life' was all we heard about. The doctor gave the worst scenario, presented in a very brutal, un-compassionate and unkind way. She gave the worst scenario, but failed to present the equally possible best scenario that these babies can do amazingly well, that the love they carry along with them will blow you away, that they will cause a ripple impact of immeasurable good across the world - something very few of us can claim to have achieved with our eugenically acceptable lives, least of all doctors who march these precious babies off to have their quality of life removed from them, sometimes within hours of diagnosis. One couple I know were even offered an abortion in the Ultrasound room (which I'm guessing is illegal in any country) and were pressured to the point that the Dad placed a formal complaint with the hospital.

So some people by their disability cause others to have more difficult lives, to be tied down, to have siblings who have to learn to wait or put themselves out, but if to kill them is ok for that reason, why not kill the teenager who breaks their parents heart by drinking, drugs, cheek etc? Why not kill the person who has had a car crash and is left disabled? Or the girl I know who woke up beside her young husband one morning to find he had a stroke and her life now entails fulfilling her vow of 'in sickness or in health' ? should he be killed because he's making someone's life inconvenient? Of course not!!!

Human life has an innate dignity simply because it is human life, it's dignity and value are not dependent on cognition, ability or 'quality'. A eldest daughter in large family I know has profound physical and mental disability. The family care for her at home and by outside standards her quality of life is poor, however, her loving family can read her and her enjoyment of their interactions with her. People who call to the house first make a bee-line for her because she enriches them just by being who she is.

Finally, I'll point to where the attitude of aborting children because of quality of life leads to : In Brazil, when the body of 9-year-old Patricio Hilario da Silva was found on a main street in Ipanema in 1989, there was a handwritten note tied around his neck.

"I killed you because you didn't study and had no future," the note read. "The government must not allow the streets of the city to be invaded by kids."

There is no difference. Abortion has no place in medicine, it is not medicine and ultimitely no good can come out of it.

My Beautiful Louise Who Had No Other Advocate Except Her Mummy and Daddy


  1. JK Says:
    Well said.
    August 24th, 2011

  2. Thank you for your post. And thank you for standing up for people like me.

    I was diagnosed with Dandy Walker and Haemangioma of the face and small intestine in 1989, when I was a week old. Today I am a 3rd year Psychology student.

    I am glad that my mother fought tooth and nail to have me and keep me. If only there were more out there like her and you.