A British mother said she almost felt driven to commit suicide after her doctors told her to have an abortion because her unborn daughter might have Down syndrome.
Speaking with the Daily Mail, Hetty Blakey, of Lincolnshire, said she was glad she sought a second opinion because she almost gave into the pressure to abort her baby girl.
“I would’ve aborted Poppy based on the information I was given at Lincoln Hospital. They made it feel like it was the most fair thing to do,” Blakey said.
Blakey chose life for her daughter, who was born in November. But because Poppy has Down syndrome, she said they have had to fight to get her the medical care that she needs.
It began when Blakey had her first ultrasound scan at Lincoln County Hospital when she was 12 weeks pregnant, according to the report. She said she was told that her baby may have “something very severe,” and she was given a brochure about abortion.
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“They handed me a scan picture and lulled me into this really depressed place of, ‘This baby’s not going to live,’” Blakey said. “That was before any diagnosis was made. It was just purely off of a scan.”
She said the doctors painted a very bleak outlook for the future and pressured her to abort her unborn daughter.
“It was not a case of, ‘She might have something wrong with her, but it could be OK.’ There was no happiness to it. It was just very much a case of, prepare yourself,” Blakey continued. “I felt really hurt and disregarded. I drove on a bypass absolutely hysterical, alone because my partner was in London that day. But I was incredibly suicidal.”
No one from the hospital followed up with her either, and, for a week, she and her partner felt hopeless, she said.
“It must’ve taken about seven days for us to snap out of it and get things organized, and just fall in love with the pregnancy again,” she said.
They decided to seek a second opinion at the Harley Street Hospital in London, according to the report. There, a test determined that their daughter did have Down syndrome, but the medical team’s attitude toward their daughter made all the difference.
“[The baby] looked perfectly healthy and they didn’t feel there was a reason to medically terminate the baby at all,” Blakey remembered.
Eventually, the couple moved to London to be closer to a hospital with advanced care for high risk pregnancies. Poppy was born on Nov. 2 at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, and has since undergone two surgeries to fix problems with her heart, the report continues.
The family has had to battle with different hospitals to obtain the care that their daughter needs, leaving them feeling “harassed and bullied,” Blakey said. Right now, she said they are waiting for Poppy to have open heart surgery.
“I’m getting letters telling me how to care for my child when I’ve been left to do this all by myself,” she said.
The family’s struggles are another example of the medical discrimination that people with Down syndrome and other disabilities often face.
According to ABC News Australia, a recent study by Down Syndrome Australia found that “half of new parents faced discrimination and neglect from medical professionals during and after prenatal screenings.” One family told the news outlet that their doctor scheduled an abortion before even telling them that their unborn baby had Down syndrome.
Another mother from Scotland told the Daily Record last year that she felt shocked by the pressure she faced to abort her now 9-year-old son because he has Down syndrome. She said she was asked twice if she wanted to abort him: once at 24 weeks and once at 37 weeks of pregnancy.
According to the Atlantic, in Denmark, 95 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. Several years ago, CBS News reported nearly 100 percent of unborn babies who test positive for Down syndrome are aborted in Iceland. The rate in France was 77 percent in 2015, 90 percent in the UK and 67 percent in the United States.
These extremely high rates of discrimination have many families speaking up about the value of children with disabilities and the need to provide better, life-affirming support after a prenatal diagnosis.