Joy Freeman said she always supported the “choice” of abortion but never thought she would have one herself.
“I’d always thought I would fight for my child no matter what. But I didn’t,” Freeman wrote recently for The Guardian.
Freeman had a late-term abortion after her unborn baby boy was diagnosed with spina bifida. She and her partner learned about their unborn child’s disability about half-way through her pregnancy.
“The prognosis was not good: major, life-saving surgery at birth, no walking, probably no talking,” she wrote. “The likelihood that he would survive childhood was murky.”
Freeman described herself as “a mess” when she found out about the diagnosis. She said she could feel her unborn son moving inside of her, signaling that he was alive. The writer said she wavered about the decision, but it was her partner who firmly decided that they should abort their son.
One thing that kept me going through the moral conundrums was that my partner – my son’s father, the love of my life – was so certain that termination was the right thing: for us as a couple, for the child, for our son. He put all my doubts into context, supported me and was forthright in his opinion that we were still the same people despite what we had done.
… But my partner felt without a shadow of a doubt that, through abortion, this baby would not suffer, that he would return to God, the ball of energy that magics us into creation or whatever you believe in, and that there would be no regret for that infant, no actual loss beyond the hopes and dreams we had for him. He felt that this was a kind of spiritual recycling, and whoever that child might have been would arrive in another form some other time.
To have the abortion, Freeman said she took a pill “to kill the baby” and later gave birth to his dead body in the maternity ward of a big London hospital. She said she could hear the cries of healthy newborns as she was aborting her own child.
“The vision of the tiny white coffin that disappeared for cremation haunts my dreams, as do the words: I did this,” Freeman said.
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Since having her own abortion, Freeman talked to other couples who also aborted because their baby had an abnormality. Interestingly, in many of those cases, the fathers, not the mothers, were the deciding factor in the decision, she wrote.
Tragically, one study found that 68% of unborn children who are diagnosed with spina bifida in utero die from abortion.
Modern technology is providing hope for some families who are contemplating abortion in the face of the diagnosis. A new surgical procedure can partially correct malformations of spina bifida while the baby is still in utero. Currently, 13 hospitals in the U.S. perform this type of surgery