Iris Day was nearly full term when medical professionals suggested that her parents abort her.
According to the Daily Mail, Iris was diagnosed with Down syndrome at 37 weeks of pregnancy. And if her parents had wanted to, or if they had succumbed to the pressure from the British NHS, they could have had her aborted.
Hannah and Ben Day said the shocking discrimination that they experienced made them more determined to give their daughter a chance at life.
“We feel that the majority of NHS staff who came into contact with Iris in her short life let her and us down in the worst possible way,” the Days told the Mail. “As her parents, we were made to feel like an annoyance to the NHS on the day she died – and on every day after she was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome.”
Born in 2016, Iris lived for five months outside the womb before she died. According to the report, a heart surgery that she needed was delayed three times, and her parents still question whether she would be alive today if not for the delays.
“From the outset, we felt like we were steered towards an abortion,” said Iris’s father, Ben.
“I just don’t agree with this notion that, if the baby’s not perfect, it shouldn’t be brought into the world,” her mother added. “Because Iris was an IVF baby, for us she was our little miracle. She was so wanted – and every day with her was precious.”
Hannah Day said everything appeared to be going well with her pregnancy until week 36. During a routine scan, she said they detected numerous holes in Iris’s heart, a condition known as atrioventricular septal defect. The condition is common in children with Down syndrome.
The couple was sent to a fetal maternal medicine consultant who asked them if they would consider abortion. The Days said they were shocked.
“We were both taken aback. We didn’t even know abortion was an option. It was awful,” Ben Day said. “We were offered a termination at 36 weeks, which is disgusting.”
A week later, further testing revealed that Iris did have Down syndrome. The NHS gave the couple a short leaflet about the genetic disorder that was extremely discouraging.
“It was a list as long as your arm saying, ‘These are the things that could be wrong with your child; these are the challenges you are going to face,’” Ben Day said. “Basically, everything we heard from the NHS was very negative.”
Three weeks later, Iris was born. Getting care for her continued to be a struggle.
The report continues:
After Iris was born in June last year, she was referred for a heart operation to treat her AVSD at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London. Guidelines state that surgery should take place between three and six months, with research suggesting babies with Down’s should ideally be operated on sooner rather than later.
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But three days beforehand, they had to rush Iris to A&E at Colchester Hospital after she developed breathing problems, a temperature and a rash. She was raced to specialists at the Evelina, where she was treated for an infection for a fortnight before being discharged.
The hospital stay meant her operation had to be rescheduled for November 25. Then, to the family’s huge frustration, it was cancelled again as no intensive care bed was available.
Her surgery was delayed a third time. However, Iris died before it could take place, according to the report.
“This was an ill child, not a tin of beans. It was ridiculous,” her father said.
Unborn babies with disabilities are subjected to horrific discrimination via abortion. Most abortions are illegal after 24 weeks in England; however, they are allowed up to birth in cases of fetal anomalies, even minor ones.
In 2015, British journalist William Skidelsky wrote a troubling piece about how doctors encouraged him and his wife to abort their late-term unborn son just because he had a cleft lip.
Especially with cases of Down syndrome, parents frequently report feeling pressured to have abortions by doctors and genetic counselors. Studies indicate unborn babies with Down syndrome are targeted for abortions at very high rates across the world.
A CBS News report last year shocked the nation by reporting that Iceland has an almost 100-percent abortion rate for unborn babies with Down syndrome.
The rate in France was 77 percent in 2015, 90 percent in the United Kingdom and 67 percent in the United States between 1995 and 2011, according to CBS. Some put the rate as high as 90 percent in the United States, but it is difficult to determine the exact number because the U.S. government does not keep detailed statistics about abortion.