Informed Choice? Or What?

30/08/2016 17:50

The following link was recently written by a 'pro-life' advocate who is I'm assuming from her job, Catholic:

She points to a fundamental area of disagreement between 'pro life' and 'pro choice' advocates but with abortion on grounds of disability added mixed-in - adding another layer of complexity. In my words, should abortion be an option open at all times and in all/any circumstances? Should there be constraints upon it or special factors in which it is always OK? Is an abortion on the ground of the fetus's disability OK? If so, is it always OK or are there circumstances when or disabilities where it ought not to be considered or given legal blessing?

My usual stance has been to say nothing about abortion publicly. It may be that I have been wise, or cowardly, in that regard. Discretion IS the better part of valour after all. Isn't it? I have mostly felt that a preponderance of male voices opining on what options women should have open to them to be unseemly. And yet, here I am venturing forth into the minefield.

I remain 'pro choice', because the extreme alternative would logically require women to be compelled in some way to carry to term. How would that be done? Social pressure? Putting women under a "Constraint: Until Given Birth" order, into a medically-induced coma with intravenous feeding until the term-date, at which point performing a caesarian and putting the baby into the State's custody? To state the issue in such terms may be distressing, IS distressing. But it is, surely, the logical end-point for those who argue the 'no abortion under any circumstances' position?

Against that, every abortion on grounds of the child having Down Syndrome (DS) is a denial of the worth of our daughter, Angharad, and those like her. As the advocacy group Saving Down SYndrome put it: 'Targeting Down syndrome for selective abortion is incompatible with equality' (

A way of side-stepping such bare, unvarnished choices is to argue for informed choice. 'Informed' by means of: challenging ob-gyns and midwives not to promote abortion (yes, they do, too often); introducing would-be parents to people with DS; giving honest and positive first hand accounts of the value of their lives; and dispelling the common and incorrect, if not slanderous, utilitarian myths surrounding DS and those who have it.

More IS being done in these regards. But it is nowhere near enough. Senior clinicians - some of them in the vanguard of companies offering NIPT (non-invasive pre-natal testing) which will profit greatly from the extension of such technologies - and others, such as policy makers, envisage and laud a world without DS.

What next, do we lose people who have other conditions or traits too? (Which ones? Who decides?) For these reasons, some argue that it is a binary choice: any form of abortion, yes or no.

I'm not there yet. I still believe in the power of ALL our voices coming together to out-shout clinicians and policy-makers and others who argue for abortion on grounds of disabilities. I still remain in favour of the proposition that a woman must decide her own ethics and their consequences.

But my position demands of me that I fight for 'informed choice. To demand that it must become something that can be measured, quality-assured, made-universal; that can be bought-into by clinicians and policy-makers, AND make a difference in the lives of - during the pregnancies of - those to whom it is given.

To do this I believe that we must make the most of the voices of all in the DS community. And of YOUR voices dear reader. Any of you, all of you, who have smiled at Angharad's words or actions, who have liked her pictures... please share this post. Make it viral maybe? Please share with your Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn colleagues and friends; with your families and social groupings; wIth your GPs/Family Doctors; and MPs/Congressmen and women; and in any other way you can think of (local and national newspapers, via

The message is this: having a child is having a child, no matter the ability or disability. There will be downs (pun intended!) but many more ups. And, if you are lucky enough to have a child with Down Syndrome you will love and be loved and have fun beyond compare. You will be in for the ride of your lives!

In your OWN words tell them why and how our Angharads add joy and value...THEN SHARE those words. Between us, maybe this thread and websites similar to my Musings will become a part of the information routinely and actively shared with women and families who receive the news that their Bump may have Down Syndrome. And that will do some small part in making 'informed choice' a meaningful phrase. Thank you.

Wyn Evans (


Uk Women