Woman: Aborting My Baby With Down Syndrome “Was the Kindest Thing I Could Do”

International   |   Sarah Zagorski   |   Oct 10, 2014   |   12:55PM   |   London, England

In April 2011, Suzanne and her husband Tim found out they were pregnant with their second baby. They were overjoyed to add to their family and give their daughter, Delilah a brother. However, when they went in for a routine scan when Suzanne was 13 weeks, they found out their baby might have Down syndrome. Later tests confirmed that their son, who they named Oscar, had the genetic disorder.

Susanna shares with the Daily Mail about her decision to abort her baby.

We reasoned that if our baby did have Down’s syndrome — a genetic disorder which inhibits the ability to learn and develop mentally — perhaps we could cope just as countless others do.

suzannetreussardThere are 60,000 people with the condition in the UK and the life expectancy of a child born with DS today is up to 60 years old. If a child with DS had been created, weren’t we — two loving, happily married people, its parents — the best placed to look after it?

But would it be fair on Delilah when inevitably a child with DS would require so much of our attention?

Two days later, the test results were conclusive: our baby — a boy — had Down’s syndrome as well as a host of serious health defects including one with his heart which meant he had only a 1 per cent chance of survival. We were warned, even if he was born alive he’d be rushed to a special care baby unit, a very poorly little boy.

What joy was there for him in this life, however long it might be?

Yet despite the persuasive voices in our head, it was impossible not to think of this life as our baby — our son, and Delilah’s brother.

After discussing their options, they decided to “terminate” their baby at 15 weeks and three days. Suzanne said, “We, his parents, chose to end his life before it started.” They had an induction abortion and delivered Oscar after taking lethal pills to end his life, and bring on labor.

In the Daily Mail article, the reasons they had for killing their son was, he would be a burden to their family, and it was the kind thing to do because Oscar was destined to suffer. Then they said they didn’t share their story right away because they were worried about being judged.

To be clear, what I’m about to say is not a judgment (Webster Dictionary defines judgment as an opinion or decision based on careful thought), it’s a tragic fact; these parents killed their baby. And they did so with careful thought. They reasoned that somehow killing another human being is better than giving them a chance at life.

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Furthermore, the family even acknowledges that many Down syndrome children go on to live successful lives. But they still didn’t want to bring a “burdensome” child into the world. If only they would have considered the fact that, according to a Boston Children’s Hospital study, 79% of parents surveyed reported their outlook on life was “more positive” because of their child with Down syndrome. If only they would have considered that among siblings of children with Down syndrome, 97% expressed feelings of pride for their brother or sister and 88% were convinced that they were better people because of their sibling.

While these statistics don’t change the reality that even if their baby was going to be a challenge for their family, killing a person is never justifiable. Sadly, Suzanne mentions that the day before she had her abortion, she felt her son kick inside her. But that wasn’t enough to change her mind. She said, “Incredibly, the night before I delivered him, I felt those first fluttery kicks inside me and dissolved into tears, relieved that I could feel my son, but distraught that I was about to lose him.”

After she delivered her dead baby, she wanted to hold him and take pictures with him. In her own words, she says, “His tiny, lifeless body weighed just 49 grams, about the same as a packet of chocolate buttons, and measured 12.6cm long — the size of a ballpoint pen. Even at 15 weeks he was already well formed, yet still today we stand by our decision.”

In 2012, Suzanne gave birth to her third child and expressed relief that her new son wasn’t a “poorly boy” like Oscar. She said, “When Wilbur was born on August 17, 2012, I scrutinized him for signs of Down’s that the scans might have missed. But gradually I allowed myself to fall in love with my gorgeous new son.”

In other words, it took Suzanne some time to fall in love with her new son because she wanted to be sure that he didn’t have Downs. This begs the question, would she have not loved her son if he did?