Mom Rejects Abortion After Doctors Said Her Baby Would Have No Arms

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   May 19, 2023   |   3:28PM   |   Washington, DC

Pressure from doctors and the fear of what life would be like for a child without arms caused Mariaan and Hendrik Strauss to question whether they should abort their unborn son.

One specialist even called the expecting parents “selfish” if they didn’t abort him.

But today, the South African couple have no questions or doubts about their son Hendré’s life, according to The Mirror.

“Hendré sleeps in his cot next to our bed,” his father, Hendrick, said. “When he wakes up, he lies there and smiles at us. And to think I wanted to throw it away because I was scared and insecure.”

The New York Post reports the Strauss family learned of their son’s disability 13 weeks into their pregnancy.

When a doctor informed them that their son’s arms were not developing, Mariaan said she began to worry about what kind of life he would have.

“Society is cruel … I thought, ‘Will our child ever be accepted? Is he going to be mocked and bullied?’” she said. “The words of my specialist kept running through my head: ‘You’re selfish if you don’t abort. You must think of the child. He will never be able to have a normal quality of life.’”

Mariaan said she felt angry at God, and she feared for her son’s unknown and uncertain future. Still, she knew the doctors were wrong about abortion; she loved her son and refused to end his life because of a physical imperfection.

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Hendré was born in June 2022, and Mariaan cried for joy.

But the weight of their son’s disabilities soon led to heartbreak. Not only were his arms missing, but the family soon learned that he also lacked a fibula and his stomach was smaller than it should have been. Additionally, one of his feet was malformed and had to be placed into a cast, according to the report.

“I thought, ‘Why us? Why our child?’” Mariaan said. “You pray and you ask for a healthy child, but then this happens. But if I had to choose today, I would take him just like that, again, without arms.”

A turning point for the family came three months later when Hendré took a first step to overcoming his disabilities.

“… he taught himself to roll from place to place, and it was like a cloud lifted,” his mother said. “I realized my child was OK, then I was OK and the depression went away.”

Since then, his father said Hendré has learned to cross the room to get toys on his own: “he moves or he pulls his little legs under him and pushes himself forward.”

The Strausses said they hope Hendré will be able to get prosthetic arms someday.

Their story echoes hundreds of similar accounts of families facing intense pressure to abort unborn babies with disabilities. Some parents say they were pressured to abort their unborn babies right up until birth, and others accused doctors of scheduling abortion appointments without even asking them. Tragically, many parents succumb to the pressure. In Iceland, for example, nearly 100 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted.

To parents in those difficult situations, Mariaan urged them to think again before going through with the abortion.

“I wish they could hear me when I tell them it’s okay to have a child who’s different from society’s idea of ‘normal,’” she said. “Hendré is the greatest gift we could have received.”