Of all the people we come across in our lives probably the ones we hold in most esteem, in awe even are those who dedicate their lives to keeping us alive. They are positively venerated and in many cases are held in high – they are almost godlike.
They see us at our most vulnerable and see much of us that others will only ever guess at, in fact probably only want to guess at, but like the man who works in the abattoir because he sees so many of us the enormity of his task means that he becomes desensitised without ever realising it.
No-where is this more apparent than when dealing with the harsh facts of nature’s ruthless efficiency; in fact one could say that man has become but a tool carrying out its job with more alarming cruelty than even nature intended.
And that is where danger lies.
I sometimes feel that we are not yet ready emotionally for the technological advances that are on offer to us and it behoves the medical profession to understand this and to look at the choices not from omnipotent ability but from the point of frail humanity.
I heard that a friend of my sister’s, whom I happen to have known for many years, has just had an abortion on the grounds of medical necessity. Not because her life would have been in jeopardy but that the 22 week old foetus she carried was extremely likely to die shortly after birth or even before it reached full term. The professionals in charge knew this thanks to the amazing pre natal screening now on offer to the vast majority of the population.
I have no doubt that every woman should have the right to choose what happens to her what I have issue with is the way in which the choices are portrayed. I have an awful feeling that the medical profession in this country is a tad too efficient for its own good and I begin to feel that there is less humanity as technology advances.
My sister’s friend was told heart breaking news; news no expectant mother ever ever wants to hear. My issue is why was she “persuaded” to have an abortion. When she was told the news, her baby was alive; there was a 'chance' it could have been born alive. Yes, there was a 'risk' it would die before it could get to full term and it was highly likely it would never have survived even being born but why did it have to be killed off at 22 weeks gestation? Could not nature be allowed to take its course? Could my friend’s sister not have a 'chance' to have a live baby even if that baby was likely to die within hours?
Instead she had an abortion, and then was given the tiny frail little body to grieve over knowing that she had killed it herself. It is bad enough surely to have a still birth but the added guilt piled upon this woman for the sake of medical necessity is barbaric.
What need was there for all this? For she had not asked for an abortion on hearing the news, she was told it was a choice she could take, that it would be better; it begs the question better for whom?
It was certainly more convenient for the hospital, probably more cut and dried and cheaper than going for the rigmarole of a ‘proper birth’ and all the attendant bureaucracy. But I think it cruel and unnecessary.
Five years ago I came under tremendous pressure to "make sure" that the foetus I carried did NOT have Downs Syndrome (click here to go to post) even though the consultant knew that with my medical history I had a greater risk than average of miscarrying a perfectly healthy baby. It was a risk the hospital was willing to accept, luckily not one either my husband or I were prepared to take.
Some will say because of that experience I am biased, perhaps I am but look at the words used: there was a "risk" my child would have Downs not a "chance" but a "risk". Funny that I am, I percieve that 'risk' is far more threatening than 'chance'...