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 fairly 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 parent’s 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.