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Mother whose son was born with one arm and no legs says not having abortion was “best decision in her life”

A mother whose son was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome (ABS), a rare syndrome that inhibits limb growth in the womb, says not having an abortion was the “best decision in her life”. 

ABS is a rare congenital condition in which bands of tissue inside the sac of fluid that surrounds a baby in the womb tangle around the baby’s body, causing injury due to reduced blood flow. This happens when there is a rupture in the inside sac and is usually detected by ultrasounds between weeks 12 and 18 of pregnancy. The type and severity of injuries vary but most usually impact the arms and legs.

“I never considered terminating”

Rosie Higgs, 29, who works as a special needs school assistant in London, learned of the possibility of her son’s condition while pregnant. She faced questions from friends and family over whether she would choose to terminate the pregnancy but “never considered” doing so.

Her son Henry was born in May 2020 without legs and with one arm with a webbed hand. Higgs told Teesside Live: “When Henry’s brother first saw him he said ‘Eugh’ – but that wasn’t because of his limbs – it was because of his umbilical cord”.

Henry was delivered by caesarian section at Northwick Park Hospital, and later had an operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital in order to separate his webbed hand.

Higgs said: ”When I was told my baby would only have one arm – and no legs – I was so worried and upset”.

”There was no doubt in my mind that I was keeping him – no matter what I was advised. He’s able to pick things up without any problems which is really surprising. He’s progressing really well”.

”Henry is happy, he loves sitting up in his highchair, but we have to be careful. He’s not able to use a baby walker because it wouldn’t be safe for him because he doesn’t have his bottom limbs”.

“Luckily the midwives were absolutely incredible. I was so stressed throughout my pregnancy and when Henry was born the midwives asked if I wanted to see him straight away because I was nervous”.

‘”Scans can only tell you so much. It was such a build-up and a worry when he first came out I didn’t know what to expect”.

”As [Henry’s dad] passed me my little boy I fell in love”.

“He’s perfect”

Since Henry’s birth, Rosie has received support from charity Reach, which specialises in supporting children with upper limb disabilities.

She added: “Thanks to the charity I’ve been in contact with loads of parents in similar positions”.

”They’ve been amazing. They’ve really helped me get through it. The house is something that we’re going to have to adapt as he gets older because it’s not suitable the way it is at the moment. That is a bit of a worry”.

”But he is such a happy chap and doesn’t let his disability hold him back in any way. He’s a flirt, he’s got a cheeky smile and he’s always laughing. He loves his big sister. He might not have all of his arms and legs, but he’s absolutely perfect to me”. 

Abortion available up to birth for disabilities

Currently, abortion is available up to birth in England, Wales and Scotland if the baby is diagnosed with disabilities such as ABS, Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot. If a child does not have a condition, there is a 24-week time limit.

Polling has shown that the majority of people in England, Wales and Scotland feel that disability should not be a grounds for abortion at all, with only one in three people thinking it is acceptable to ban abortion for gender or race but allow it for disability.

Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “Heartwarming stories like Henry’s show that, whether inside or outside the womb, a baby is a baby and deserves to be treated with love and care. Babies must be protected under the law and not experience lethal discrimination simply because they happen to have a disability. By permitting abortion up until birth on grounds of disability, there is an implication that the lives of disabled people are worth less than the lives of others”.

Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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Dear reader

In 2020, the UK Government imposed an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland, which included a provision that legalised abortion right up to birth for disabilties including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot.

A new Bill has been launched at the Northern Ireland assembly that will remove the current provision that allows abortion for ‘severe fetal impairment’.

It is under these grounds in the regulations that babies with disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot can currently be singled out for abortion in Northern Ireland because of their disability and can be aborted right up to birth.

Before the new abortion regime was imposed on Northern Ireland in 2020, disability-selective abortion for conditions such as Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot was not legal and there was a culture of welcoming and supporting people with these disabilities rather than eliminating them.

This is reflected directly in the latest figures (2016) from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, which show that while there were 52 children born with Down’s syndrome in Northern Ireland, in the same year only 1 child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales. 

This contrasts with the situation in the rest of the United Kingdom where disability-selective abortion has been legal since 1967.

The latest available figures show that 90% of children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome before birth are aborted in England and Wales.

We are, therefore, asking people like you to take 30 seconds of your time and add your support to the campaign to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot in Northern Ireland.

If you live in Northern Ireland: 
Ask your MLAs to vote to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot:

If you live outside Northern Ireland: 
Show your support by signing this petition in support of the Bill:

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Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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