A heartbreaking story highlighted by ABC News attempts to justify the abortion of a baby girl from Alabama just because she had Down syndrome.
The baby girl’s mother, Kelly Shannon, traveled to Richmond, Virginia for the abortion because the laws in her home state protected her unborn daughter, according to the report.
“This has been the single most painful and traumatic experience of my life and our lives,” Shannon told the news outlet. “And anybody who wants to stand up and say that abortions are wrong or that people shouldn’t be able to make their own decisions about abortion care just need to recognize that it’s not a black and white issue. It is complicated, and I wouldn’t wish this on anybody.”
Caring for a child with special needs is challenging, but a child is no less worthy of life because of her disabilities. The Shannons’ daughter was a unique and valuable human being who deserved to live. All too often, however, doctors and modern society stoke fears and put pressure on parents to abort unborn babies with special needs, and many parents cave to the pressure.
Shannon said she and her husband were happy to learn they were expecting a second child late last year. However, near Christmas, she said doctors told them their unborn daughter likely had Down syndrome.
“I spent the next few weeks trying not to get too attached, but it’s hard not to love a baby you have prayed for,” Shannon told ABC News.
After more tests, the family learned that their unborn daughter had other health problems, including a tumor on her stomach and a heart defect, which is common in people with Down syndrome. Initially, doctors also thought she was suffering from excessive fluid and swelling on her brain, but later testing confirmed that she was not, according to the report.
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The family asked for an exception to the Alabama abortion ban, but their local hospital denied it because Kelly’s life was not at risk and her unborn daughter did not have a terminal illness, according to the report. Alabama law protects unborn babies by banning abortions except in rare cases where the mother’s life is at risk.
“The committee felt that since each condition was by itself potentially survivable — not that they would lead to any kind of quality of life, just that they could potentially lead to life — that under Alabama law they did not think that my case met the criteria for termination,” she told ABC News.
To the Shannons, however, the news was devastating. They did not want their baby girl to survive because she would need “multiple corrective surgeries immediately after birth” and live with a life-long disability.
So instead, they scheduled an abortion in Richmond, Virginia, paying almost $3,000 to have their daughter aborted, according to Live Action News.
On Feb. 7, their unborn daughter was aborted. An “In memory of” card from the hospital published by ABC News says the baby girl weighed 12.4 ounces. The photo also shows a mold of the imprints of her feet.
Unborn babies with Down syndrome are discriminated against at an alarming rate – despite growing efforts to celebrate and value people with special needs.
“It is unfortunately very common for doctors to exaggerate risks of pregnancy with a child with Down syndrome and place pressure on women to have an abortion after receiving a Down syndrome diagnosis,” said Cassy Fiano-Chesser, Live Action writer and mother of a child with Down Syndrome.
Fiano-Chesser said the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network features testimonies of families who have had their children called “vegetables” and “it,” and a recent survey found many doctors still give outdated information to encourage women to have abortions.
Researchers estimate between 60 percent and 90 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted in the United States. In other countries, the deadly discrimination rate is nearly 100 percent.
A mother from Scotland recently told the Daily Record that she was offered an abortion at 37 weeks of pregnancy, almost full term, because her son has Down syndrome. Another British mother Emma Mellor told the BBC that she was pressured to abort her unborn daughter 15 times, including right up to the moment of her baby’s birth.
At the same time, people with Down syndrome are living longer, healthier and fuller lives than ever before because of modern medical advances and better support services for people with special needs. Some even attend college, work regular jobs and get married. Earlier this year, actor James Martin became the first person with Down syndrome to win an Academy Award. The toy company Mattel also just announced plans to release a new Barbie doll with Down syndrome later this year.