Sunday 23 August 2009

Parents expecting a disabled child made the right choice

Earlier this month The Daily Mirror published the testimony of Liz Crowter, whose daughter Heidi (both pictured) has Down's syndrome. Despite struggling to love Heidi when she was born, Liz says that she would never use a new test that detects the condition, because "because I think it could encourage abortion."

Alison Davis of No Less Human has sent me her thoughts about this story:
"It isn't uncommon for new parents to have ambivalent feelings when their child is unexpectedly found to have a disability at birth. Even those who knew about the disability before birth, having had scans, can still feel unsure about how much they love the new member of their family. It's what parents do with these feelings that matters, not the fact that they have them.

"Liz Crowter and her husband Steve had had the right instincts from the start, when they chose not to have pre-natal tests for Down's syndrome during pregnancy, and now Liz says she wouldn't accept the new maternal blood test 'because I think it could encourage abortion'.

"Liz and Steve learned to love Heidi when she was at her most vulnerable stage, and when they were faced with the possibility of her early death. It is often when we are faced with losing someone that we realise how precious that person is to us, disabled or not. Now they are able to say 'we feel privileged to have her as our daughter'.

"I felt sad, however, at Liz's comment that: 'It's natural to grieve for the perfect child you hoped for... We all hope to have a perfect baby', implying that Heidi and others like her are somehow uniquely 'imperfect'. Parents wanting a 'perfect' baby are bound to be disappointed, for no child is truly 'perfect'. However, each is infinitely precious, and each brings lessons and joys and sorrows that only she or he could bring. We reject the 'imperfect' at our peril - because if we take that philosophy to its logical conclusions, there will be nobody left."
As with the anencephalic babies I blogged about yesterday, babies with Down's syndrome, other disabilities and indeed all unborn children need an amnesty. Please visit the Amnesty for Babies website to see what you can do to help protect them.

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