When I, aged 32 yrs, and my partner rocked up to our 1st ever 12 week pregnancy scan, wearing leathers (having come on a motorbike) and heard the words “Are you going to tell her, or am I?” we knew we were in for an unexpected ride….
But the biggest surprise and shock to me was not the diagnosis itself but that there was only 1 assumption made by the doctors we met…that we would not want to continue with the pregnancy! I was horrified that they offered me a termination there and then, without any further testing to be certain of the cause of the large nuchal fold reading (which can be many things). (See also: Nuchal Fold Scan on this site)
And even when I went for CVS the next day, the doctor performing the procedure said “We can all live with ourselves better if we find out for certain”….except that I was having the test because I needed to know exactly what we were dealing with to get prepared…..NOT because I needed to justify termination due to an ‘adverse outcome’ (his words). I remember coming away from the hospital feeling really disappointed and sad – I thought hospitals were places to support people with medical issues, not be dealing in damn statistics and eugenics…and that little life inside of me seemed to have so little importance in their eyes….which just made me all the more protective of her!
But what of those women in a similar situation to me….how many go through with a termination because it felt like that was the advice the doctors were giving? It might sound to them, in their confused/ shocked state, as if that is what everyone else would do……what would be expected….
And why was I rapidly hauled into (made an emergency appointment with) my local doctor once they realised I had declined any testing when I became pregnant with my 2nd child? He wanted to talk to me about why I didn’t want testing and did I understand the ‘risks’….is it this fear that gives us the terrible statistic of 94% termination rate for babies with DS? And even worse, allows abortions up to and including birth on the diagnosis of DS? (See Abortion on Grounds of Disability: Eugenics at work? on this site).