Submission to the Abortion Review

We are families whose babies were diagnosed with life-limiting conditions such as anencephaly or Trisomy 18. We have experienced the terrible loss and pain of the death of a child. However, we have also experienced the tremendous love and joy that comes with carrying and holding our children, and we know how that shared time brings love and joy and healing after loss and pain. We work to provide a forum for families to share their experiences and stories, and to provide a support network for those families.

We are deeply concerned that that operation of the abortion legislation is creating a culture where parents are in danger of being pushed towards abortion instead of being supported at a time of crisis.

Consider what Rebecca Price and Patrick Kiely were told about their unborn son, Christopher, when they were being advised to have an abortion, just three months into the operation of the Act.  When they said that they weren’t afraid to take care of a sick baby, they were told their baby ‘wasn’t viable’. They added that they only considered the advice of their doctor to abort their child because they were told Christopher had no chance of survival. As we all now know, the diagnosis was wrong and a perfectly healthy baby was aborted.

It beggars belief that any doctor would say such a thing – but it underscores the dangerous culture and mindset that has arisen around this issue. It is not true to say that all preborn babies with Trisomy 18  have ‘no chance’ of survival, as evidenced by international medical research.

Research published in Pediatrics showed that, while a significant risk of miscarriage exists, children who live until birth with Trisomy 18 may have an average lifespan of 14 days; with 39% of babies living for more than a month, and 10% living for more than a year. A 2016 paper found survival in babies with Trisomy 18 “to be somewhat higher than those previously reported in the literature, consistent with recent studies reporting improved survival following more aggressive medical intervention for these children.”

Recently, an important editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that “survival [for babies with Trisomy] is not as rare as once thought”, and acknowledged the role that parents networking on social media had played in bringing doctors to a better understanding of the value of the lives of our Trisomy babies, and the support needed by parents.

This is the information that should be shared with parents, instead of attaching a meaningless label to a child and pushing parents towards abortion.  One study, published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics showed that a shocking 61% of parents reported feeling pressure to abort their baby after a diagnosis of a chromosomal disorder. h.

We urge the review to hear from parents who have been supported by Every Life Counts - and to support the ' call by Baby Christopher's parents for a full investigation into this operation of the Act, The Review must establish a protocol to ensure parents not pressured into abortion - and are given factual information and support in continuing with the pregnancy.