Mother of Disabled Son: “I Knew I Had to Abort Him”

International   |   Byron Calhoun, Ph.D.   |   May 21, 2012   |   3:24PM   |   London, England

While one woman’s video about her decision to reject an abortion of her disabled son is resonating with millions of views, another mother tells a British newspaper that, upon finding out her son would have disabilities, she “knew” she had to abort him.

Sara Carpenter writes at the London Daily Mail newspaper, “I saw my son’s bleak future and knew I had to abort him.”

Feeling my unborn son move inside me should have been a joyous moment midway through my pregnancy — a milestone that took me closer to welcoming my third child into the world. Instead, every tiny movement made me feel sick with guilt at what I knew I had to do.

Sitting, head in hands, at our kitchen table, I wept at the turn our lives had taken and the terrible dilemma my husband Andrew and I were suddenly facing. It was a choice no parent should ever have to make. This should have been a straightforward pregnancy. After all, this baby was every bit as planned and wanted as our other two children, and welcoming our first son into the family would be a special joy.

But things were different from the start. In contrast with my previous two pregnancies, I had felt sick and weak every minute of every arduous day. It was almost as if my body had been trying to tell me something. I’d grown to love this baby, but something felt terribly wrong. My fears were confirmed on October 1, 2006, when a routine scan changed everything. I’d held my breath as the consultant spent far longer than I knew was standard studying and measuring sections of my baby’s spine and brain.

Scan images are notoriously hard for lay-people to make sense of, but the protrusion on my son’s back was impossible to miss. As the doctor switched off the monitor and turned her chair to face me, I clenched my fists and jaw, willing her to say there was nothing to worry about. Instead, my stomach lurched as she said: ‘I’m sorry, but your baby has spina bifida.’

Spina bifida can be surgically closed after birth and intrauterine surgery for spina bifida has also been performed. But Carpenter said her doctor informed her and her husband that their baby would never walk.



Carpenter said she came from a pro-life, Catholic family and marched in a pro-life rally when she was young. Although she had pro-life values, the prospect of watching a disabled son struggle prompted the decision to take his life, saying killing him was a kind response.

Andrew and I talked long into the night, and finally agreed that ending the pregnancy was the kindest thing we could do for our son.

Despite the confident manner in which Carpenter decided to have an abortion using the dangerous abortion drug mifepristone, the thought still haunted her and probably will for a lifetime.

What followed were the worst 16 hours of my life. They passed in a morphine-induced haze, but there was no dulling what was happening. My baby was being forced into the world long before he could survive in it, and it felt unnatural — completely at odds with my instincts as a mother. My body seemed to be doing all it could to hold onto him, and the labour went on and on.

At one point, in the grips of what felt like a panic attack, I became hysterical. Gasping for breath and screaming, I demanded that Andrew tell me why we were doing this and why it was the right thing for our son.

In contrast, the video of the courageous mom who shares her account of rejecting suggestions that she have an abortion following the prediction from doctors that her unborn child would be born with disabilities has been seen now by millions of people.

Lacey Buchanan is chronicling her journey with Christian and her family on her blog and has talked more about the inspiring story. Christian Taylor Buchanan was born with a bilateral cleft palate and lip and almost completely blind.