"When I see boys at my daughter's school, all gangly limbs and scruffy hair, I wonder what my own son would have looked like. He would be nine now. He would have blond hair and blue eyes - his father and I shared that colouring.With harrowing honesty, Victoria Lambert takes the reader step-by-step from the joy of her pregnancy, looking forward to her baby being the start of a large family, to being wheeled to the operating theatre for an abortion and waking up crying. Her story speaks volumes about the tragic reality behind one woman's experience of ante-natal testing and abortion - the fear, the bitter regret following an abortion, and the difficulty in self-forgiveness (which is so important for women and men who have experienced an abortion, and is the principal focus of the outreach of British Victims of Abortion, a group run by the SPUC educational research trust). She writes:
"He might have my prominent chin, definitely a grin all his own. But my son would also be unable to speak, walk or possibly even think for himself.
"He would have extra digits and a heart defect. For the first child I conceived had Patau's syndrome - also known as trisomy 13, which affects one in 10,000 births ... Over the years, I've allowed my imagination to run unchecked; I've seen him playing conkers, glued to a PlayStation, eating pizza. Yet all this can only ever be conjecture, for I had a termination in my 13th week of pregnancy, two weeks before the turn of the millennium.
"It was an experience that has scarred me in ways I could never have anticipated. Put simply: my decision and its consequences have tortured me for the past nine years ... "
" ... In the past nine years, not a week has gone by when I haven't thought of him. Despite the support that others - including those closest to me - expressed for my decision at the time, I don't think I can ever truly forgive myself for what I did ... "Sadly, Victoria Lambert continues "I'm not against abortion per se, and never have been" and she appears to accept, albeit, perhaps, reluctantly, the eugenics which may motivate others to abort a disabled child.
But I think Victoria's deepest feelings about abortion have already emerged in the article when she writes:
" ... The decision was not mine alone, anyway: my husband was convinced of the correctness of this course of action, and his point of view was as valid as mine. He was worried for my health, too - would carrying such a sickly child put me at risk? We knew so little.I hope and pray that Victoria Lambert's story will help other women who may be under pressure to abort their child - whether that child has a disability or not. And I pray, above all, that she will find peace and learn to forgive herself.
"We struggled on until Monday and drove to the hospital for the operation. Here, I met the one person who allowed me to question what was happening - an anaesthetist who threw everyone out of the room and sat down on the bed to ask whether this was what I really wanted.
"I wish she had been there 24 hours earlier; by this time, it was too little, too late. I'd lost all willpower, all ability to do anything but cry. I said: 'Yes, I'll do this.' And with that, I gave permission - and I cannot put this any other way, try as I may - to murder my unborn baby ... "