A woman’s right to abort a foetus with Down’s syndrome | Letters

Every baby should be wanted, and forcing a woman to carry an unwanted foetus to term is hardly the best start, says Ruth Brandon

Re your article (Woman with Down’s syndrome loses court of appeal abortion law case, 25 November), in 1981, I aborted a foetus with Down’s syndrome at 20 weeks. At that stage, the procedure involves an induced birth. It was pretty harrowing, but was notable for the kindness of the hospital staff. I have never regretted my decision.

At that time, amniocentesis, in which Down’s and other birth defects can be picked up from a sample of amniotic fluid, was a relatively new procedure. It involves a risk of miscarriage, but I would not have risked pregnancy without it. I was 38 and well aware of the increased incidence of Down’s syndrome in older mothers. For me, amniocentesis, with the possibilities of choice that it granted, was one of the world-changing freedoms for women that began with the contraceptive pill.

Others might have made a different choice. But I think everyone would agree that every baby should be a wanted baby, and that forcing a woman to carry an unwanted foetus to term is hardly the best start for either of the individuals involved.
Ruth Brandon

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