In a UK first last year, doctors at University College London operated on two unborn babies with spina bifida, a birth defect characterised by a gap in the spinal cord which can cause paralysis of the legs and incontinence. Around 1,000 foetuses a year develop spina bifida in the UK; of these, 80 per cent or so are subsequently aborted. The number of pregnancies terminated each year can be expected to drop with the arrival of this new surgery which will be made available on the NHS. And yet, far from rejoicing, pro-life advocates have been whipped into a frenzy over it.
The aftermath of the collision on the B3151/Grace’s parents Jackie and Tom Luxton (Image:SomersetLive)
A mother from Somerset who tragically lost her child in a car crash has had her case put directly before the Prime Minister. Jackie Luxon was 26 weeks pregnant when she was involved in a serious car crash, which resulted in the death of her unborn child, Grace.
The driver of the other vehicle was later found guilty of dangerous driving, but only the injuries of Jackie and her 3 year old daughter (who was also in the car) were relevant to the case. Her unborn child, Grace, had no recognition in law so her tragic death could not be taken into account.
The couple discovered that the Road Traffic Act 1988 does not recognise an unborn baby (of 24 weeks or more gestation) as a person.
Grace’s parents now want the law changed so that there is some recognition of the loss of their daughter’s life.
Grace’s mother, Jackie said: “My heart was torn to pieces when we were informed that my baby girl no longer showed signs of life. It’s heartbreaking that no prosecution can be brought for the loss of her life. We hope that consideration is made for changes to this law going forward.”
James Heappey, Conservative MP for Wells, put this case to the Prime Minister on the 22nd May. He explained:
The baby, Grace, got no justice at all. I understand from the police and stillbirth support groups that the Luxon’s tragic experience is, sadly, far from unique. Will the Prime Minister look again at the Road Traffic Act 1988 so that those who cause death to viable babies over 24 weeks’ gestation through dangerous driving can be held responsible for these tragic losses of life?
This is an important question and it is a great sadness that Grace’s life is not taken into account at all simply because she is in the womb. As the MP pointed out, this sort of case is “far from unique”.
Parents deserve to have their unborn children recognised under the law, as do the unborn children themselves. Obviously no change in the law could bring Grace back, but it would at least acknowledge that she existed, that she has worth and that her life meant something.