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Don’t Talk About Termination

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Don’t Talk About Termination

Sam and I have been blogging about our experience towards (what we hope will eventually be) parenthood for a while now.

For all of our posts prior to this we have felt faily confident that many (or at least the majority) of people would be able to relate, or at least empathise with us at some level.

While a few of the topics in the past have not been easy for us to talk about, we are concerned with the controversy that this particular issue is likely to raise.

But, we don’t think we should shy away from talking about things just because they are difficult, or because we’re concerned that people might not agree with our views.

I always thought I had fairly set views on pregnancy termination.

I would say I’m pro-choice, in the sense that I think each scenario is unique to the parents who are living it, and it’s their choice as to what they think is the best thing to do at the time, and given their circumstances.

But I didn’t think I could ever personally entertain the idea of knowingly terminating a pregnancy myself.

That was until I learned there was a possibility of us going full term with a child who has severe disabilities.

Of course, one of the first things I did was look up what types of disabilities are possible with children who have unbalanced translocations.

There really is quite a range, but at the tricky end of the scale we’re talking inability to walk, talk, interact, on-going health problems, frequent to life-long hospital stays and extremely limited quality of life.

I read plenty of stories of parents who didn’t know that disability was a possibility for their child and went full term, and stories of parents who were fully aware of what was in store and had chosen to terminate.

There were also stories from parents who were pretty clear about saying that if they had the option to terminate before they knew what was in store for the child they would have terminated, as no-one would want that kind of life for a child.

Pregnancy termination is one of those tricky topics that everyone seems to have an opinion on, but no-one really wants to talk about.

I would really urge people to re-consider what they think about it, because I really don’t think you can fully comprehend what it means until you are in the situation where you have to make the decision yourself.

I said to Sam yesterday, that I’m probably more worried about what other people would think than anything else if we were in a situation where we were forced to make a decision about whether to terminate.

His response was to say that if we did make that decision at some stage that we could just tell people we had a miscarriage.

I agreed that would be an option, but I also think that there are probably millions of people out there that make the decision to terminate for some reason or other on a daily basis, and they probably don’t talk about it because of “what everyone thinks”.

It concerned me that we could possibly add to the stigma surrounding termination by keeping quiet about our decision.

So, we decided that if we are in the unfortunate situation where we decided to terminate that we would be open about it.

I figured there are probably a lot of other people in similar situations to us and they might seek comfort in the fact that they’re not alone in having to face such a traumatising scenario.

This is definitely not a decision a couple makes lightly.

From our point of view, we take into consideration quality of life for the child (including whether they will constantly be in pain and / or in need of medical care), resources required (equipment, medical resources, time and energy), costs (for resources, equipment, medical care etc) and burden to society (I know that might sound horrible but when it comes down to it, we’re talking about government allocation of funding, and what happens to the care of the child when we’re no longer around?).

From a slightly different angle, I am also mindful that having a child with such a severe disability could mean that we potentially may not go on to have more children, or alternatively if we did decide to have more children, should we consider what impact a sibling with a severe disablity would have to the lives of potential future healthy children?

Alternatively, what if we did know that the child had a severe disability, and went through with the pregnancy, what then happens if we decide to have more children, and the next child has a severe disability, and the next one after that? Would that affect our future decisions and how would we then feel about the decision to continue or to terminate the 2nd, 3rd, 4th… or so on?

I also hate to make this comparison, but I can’t help but think that if we were dealing with anything other than a human being, we would think it would be kinder to euthanise than see that living being suffer their entire lifetime. For some reason when it comes to human beings, people see things in a different way.

Another point Sam and I discussed were religious beliefs. We understand and respect that some religious views can make an impact on how people will feel towards a situation such as this.

We don’t follow a particular religion ourselves and while we respect everyone’s right to their own views and beliefs, we would hope that people also respect our right to choose our views and beliefs, even though these may not align with their own.

From our point of view, our preference is to do what we believe is right given the circumstances.

That is not to say that there are any “right” or “wrong” ways to look at a scenario such as this. I just think each scenario should be taken on its merits, and the parents decision accepted as reasonable, regardless of their situation or what they decide.

Personally, I couldn’t say exactly what I think we would or wouldn’t do, as I don’t think I’ll know for sure unless we’re in that situation (which I really hope we won’t be).

But if we are, I’d like to think that we’d choose the option we believed to be the kindest for the child, even if that meant choosing termination.

This is a really sensitive topic, so if you would like to comment please feel free to do so, but I ask that you be respectful, given that people will have mixed views and beliefs on this issue, and all thoughts and ideas are valid so long as they are not intended to dismiss or insult the thoughts or views of others.

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9 Replies to “Don’t Talk About Termination”

  1. I have the same views on pregnancy termination. I am pro-choice and believe each woman should make the choice that is best for her (and also that no governing body should be able to tell a woman what she can or can’t do with her body) but I wouldn’t choose it for myself. It’s so sad that women are shamed for needing to terminate regardless of the reason. I know women who have been raped and got pregnant as the result, women who needed to terminate because of major defects and women who decided it wasn’t the right time for them to be parents. We don’t talk about it because of the shame that is associated with it. As far as having the decision to terminate based on there being a problem with the fetus or health/safety concerns for the mother, I think each family needs to decide what is best for them. This is a very important and relevant topic, so thank you for writing about it and sharing your personal experience.

    1. Thanks Lecy, there really are so many different scenarios out there that it just doesn’t make sense for a “one size fits all” model when it comes to making decisions like this.

  2. I honestly can’t say what I’d do. I’ve never been in that position before and I think you can’t say what you’d do until you’re actually faced with the situation. I’m pro-choice – I believe everyone has the right to make the decision that is best for them. It isn’t up to me what someone else does with their body. And it shouldn’t be up to anyone else what I do with my body.
    I can’t say I can’t imagine having to make such a difficult decision. I’m not sure how I could handle that. It’s scary the things life puts us through and I’m sorry you’re having to go through it.

  3. Yes, I agree it’s a decision not to be taken lightly, but given the circumstances you find yourselves in I would arrive at the same conclusion you have Dominique. It really goes being beyond pro-choice or Pro-life but deciding what is best for your circumstances. I think there should be more discussion on what choices couples make and the reasons driving the choices. You should not be ashamed to talk about it, in the end it’s your decision and I would expect that it be respected as such.

    1. Thanks Annmarie, I agree that perhaps if there was a bit more discussion, and perhaps awareness of the reasons behind making these decisions that there could be less shame and stigma attached to the topic. There are so many factors, that every scenario is going to be complex, and unfortunately, there isn’t just a simple way of making a decision such as this x

  4. I would really urge people to re-consider what they think about it, because I really don’t think you can fully comprehend what it means until you are in the situation where you have to make the decision yourself.

    This.

    I had a friend who recently had to make this incredibly difficult and gut-wrenching decision because of chromosomal defects and the fact that her child wouldn’t love long after birth and my heart ached for her. I’m pro choice myself but this is really one left to the parents who are in these difficult scenarios. Thank you for shedding light and helping to reduce the stigma.

    1. Charlotte – thanks for your comments, and I’m so sorry to hear that your friend had to go through this too x

  5. I didnt think I could ever go through with a termination, until I was faced with the situation. Having become accidentally pregnant, whilst on a big holiday (which involved way too much heavy drinking) and although in a loving, committed relationship, the relationship was still very new and although initially we decided to go through with it, we knew deep down that we were not in the right position for a variety of reasons to be parents, not to mention the potential health effects of drinking during pregnancy. Was it hard? Definitely, and I still get upset thinking about it today. Do I regret it? Definitely not. It was the right thing to do for us at the time.

    Two of my friends had terminations around the same time. One due to chromosomal abnormalities in the baby, one for her own personal reasons. We all talk about our terminations a lot, in a non-judgemental way, to support each other. Even though we all had different reasons, it doesnt take away from how difficult a decision it is and how much it affects your body for weeks afterwards. I am eternally grateful to those women for their support and love

    1. Anonymous friend, thanks so much for sharing your story, and I’m sorry you have had to experience this difficult decision. Saying that you didn’t think you could go through with it until you were faced with the situation rings so true for me. I honestly didn’t think I could either until I was in a position where I knew that could be a reality for us.

      I’m not sure there are exactly any words that can express just how heartwrenching it is to make a decision such as that, and I am sure you and the friends of yours that you mentioned did what they thought was the best thing to do in their circumstances. It is comforting to know that there are others who have faced this same scenario and are able to be supportive and non-judgemental too.

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