Scottish mother pressured to have an abortion by doctors gives birth to healthy boy

A Scottish mother who was persistently pressured by doctors to have an abortion has given birth to her healthy son.

The mother, Lauren Webster, from North Lanarkshire, was told at a 13-week ultrasound scan that her unborn son had a ‘bladder obstruction’ and it was thought he could have Edwards syndrome – a serious genetic condition which means the child is unlikely to survive for very long outside of the womb. (Although in rare cases, people with Edwards syndrome have been known to survive to adulthood.)

The doctors monitored the development of Lauren’s baby closely and “[e]very week” the doctors asked “[her] if [she] wanted to terminate.”

Lauren told the doctors to stop asking her if she wanted an abortion, insisting that she wanted to keep her baby. The doctors however continued to ask especially after they became concerned about the possibility of the child developing Edwards syndrome.

Despite the unrelenting pressure from her doctors, the mother Lauren refused to give in, saying she had “a gut feeling” her baby would survive.

Doctors were “gobsmacked” when baby Ollie was born via caesarean section with no major health problems at all.

His bladder obstruction had resolved itself, and Edwards’ syndrome was ruled out at a scan.

Lauren said she wouldn’t want others in a similiar situation to be pressured into abortion.

“Everything they told me turned out not to have happened.”

This is not the first instance of mothers being pressured to have abortions when there is concern that the baby could be born with a disability. Last month, Natalie Halson was asked if she wanted an abortion ten times after her daughter was diagnosed with spina bifida in the womb. Nathalie resisted and her daughter had corrective spinal surgery after birth and is now flourishing.

Clare McCarthy of Right To Life UK said: “This case shows the immense pressure that mums are put under to abort their babies if they are diagnosed with a disability in the womb. It is now ‘routine procedure’ to be offered an abortion, but more so, it is expected that you would want an abortion.”

“Rather than being offered real treatment for her baby, this mother was asked time and time again if she would like to abort her child. It is a sad indictment of our healthcare system that rather than caring for both lives in a pregnancy and supporting a mother who wants to keep her baby, it is labelled as ‘routine procedure’ to pressure her to have an abortion. Secondly, the underlying attitude towards people with disabilities that this practice displays, is deeply discriminatory and unfair to both mother and unborn baby. ”

(Photo credit Adobe Stock:MoiraM)

Irish abortion mix-up leaves parents ‘devastated’

An investigation is likely to be carried out at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin after an abortion was carried on a healthy child mistakenly diagnosed as having a “fatal foetal abnormality”.

Reports say that after pre-natal screening, the parents were told that their baby had Trisomy 18, otherwise known as Edwards Syndrome, a serious genetic condition which means the child is unlikely to live beyond the first few months of life outside of the womb. (Although in rare cases, people with Edwards Syndrome have been known to survive to adulthood.)

The family’s solicitor, Caoimhe Haughey said:

“[The parents] did not go into this clinic or into this hospital with a view to having a termination. They went into this hospital to find out how well their pregnancy was going… But this led them down a path when suddenly they’re talking about termination. They never brought up the word termination.

The apparently rushed nature of the consultation suggests that the parents were put under pressure to have the abortion. Seemingly, this is quite common when there is prenatal diagnosis of genetic abnormalities, particularly Downs syndrome.

A later test however, revealed that their child was perfectly healthy and did not have Edwards Syndrome. The couple have been described by their lawyer as “utterly, utterly mentally and physically devastated”, and it is understood that the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ROCG) have been approached regarding the possibility of conducting a review.

“Being a doctor and being aware of the limitations of science, I am aware that these cases can happen but that doesn’t take away at all from the individual tragedy that has happened here.” said, Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar. He was apparently unaware that this tragedy was avoidable and happened as a direct result of a law he fully endorsed.

This case is obviously extremely sad, and was made possible by the introduction of abortion into the country following a referendum on the 8th Amendment in 2018, where the Irish people voted to remove legal protections for the unborn from the Irish Constitution.

It is a great tragedy that a nation decided to remove legal protection for unborn babies, and it is worth noting that this case would never have happened whilst abortion remained illegal in Ireland. When abortion becomes legally and morally acceptable, children conceived in less than ideal circumstances and ‘unwanted’ children are in great danger, but, as is clear in this case, even ‘wanted’ children are at risk

Additionally, the prejudice against people with disabilities is also evident in this case. The discussion of this case sees the tragedy lying in the misdiagnosis and then abortion of a healthy child, apparently assuming that, if it were the case that the child really did have Edwards Syndrome, then there would have been no tragedy.

A similar prejudice against people with disabilities is reflected in the abortion law in England and Wales which allows abortion up to 24 weeks in cases where the child is healthy, but permits abortion up until birth if the child is disabled. This is clear and explicit discrimination, written into law, against people with disabilities, and reveals much about our cultural attitude toward disabled persons.

In truth, Ireland has made the same grave mistake that Britain made in 1967, where children in the womb are constantly in danger of being viewed as products which, if they do not meet certain requirements (i.e. they are disabled), they are to be discarded. As this case shows, even if the product is up to the required standard, misdiagnosis means that he/she is still in grave peril.

NB The language of “production” is already routinely used in the medical community, where unborn children are frequently referred to as “products of conception”.