British mom Emma Howard said she felt like she had to choose between her life and her unborn baby’s when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2014.
A single mom of four born children, as well as her unborn child, Howard decided to take her doctors’ advice and have the abortion, the Mirror reports. The 34-year-old said she made the painful decision so that she could continue cancer treatments and have more time with her four older children.
“It was an awful decision but I had to make it because otherwise I would not have been here,” she told the Mirror. “I was told that I had months to live – at best a year – and I wanted to stay around for the kids that I already have, that was what was important at the time.
“The baby never really had a chance from the start – my heart wanted to have Gabriel but I had to use my head and listen to the doctors,” Howard added.
At 17 weeks of pregnancy, Howard aborted her unborn son, Gabriel, according to the report. She said she buried him on Feb. 6, 2014 with a few close friends and family; she did not tell her other children.
“I had to have that time to grieve but I feel guilty for having to give up on Gabriel – it torments you,” Howard continued. “But I had to sacrifice Gabriel for the other four children and that treatment has given me another two-and-a-half years with them so far.”
Howard has been battling breast cancer and terminal lung cancer for almost three years now, and doctors said she only has a few months left to live. She said she is planning her funeral right now and trying to make the most of the time she has left with her children, according to the report.
Her story is both heartbreaking and concerning. The report does not give many details about her condition or her doctors’ advice, but research suggests that abortions are not necessary or helpful to pregnant women diagnosed with cancer.
Sarah Pierce made a very different choice when she was pregnant with twins several years ago. At 16 weeks of pregnancy, doctors broke the terrible news that she had breast cancer. She underwent chemo, radiotherapy and a mastectomy before the birth and worried the entire time about the impact the treatment would have on her babies. However, both twins were born healthy and her cancer is in remission, the London Daily Mail reports.
A collection of research studies published in The Lancet in 2012 found that chemotherapy treatment after the first trimester tends not to harm the unborn child, and an abortion does not improve the mother’s chance of beating the cancer.
Belgian researcher Dr Frédéric Amant, lead author of two of the studies, told the London Telegraph, “The patient and her partner should be informed about the different treatment options and the physician should explain that termination of pregnancy does not seem to improve maternal outcome, but the decision to continue or end the pregnancy is a personal one.”
Whether Howard’s doctors told her about the research is unclear. It appears that, despite the findings, doctors continue to recommend that women abort their unborn babies when they need immediate chemotherapy.
As the Mirror reported with Howard’s story, “If chemotherapy is required to start quickly to control the cancer then doctors may advise that the pregnancy is ended either by a termination or an early delivery if later in the pregnancy.”
Dr. Joel Brind, a research biochemist at Baruch College, previously told LifeNews: “Unfortunately, many doctors still recommend abortion for women diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant, so that they can treat the cancer more aggressively. This is despite worldwide research going back as far as the 1930s that shows that so-called ‘therapeutic abortion’ substantially shortens lifespan, whereas carrying the pregnancy to term makes long-term cure more likely.”