Monday 5 January 2009

I pray that Victoria Lambert will forgive herself for her abortion

Victoria Lambert (pictured right with Rowena, her daughter, aged four), a journalist, writes a must-read, powerful article in today's Daily Mail about the abortion of her disabled baby.

It begins:
"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.

"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 ... "
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:

" ... 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.

"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 ... "
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.