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A destructive cycle

January 13, 2010

The UK Guardian recently ran this nakedly dismal piece penned by a father reflecting upon the events leading up to the dissolution of his family over four years ago.  He and his wife learned their third child, Emily, had Down syndrome. On the heels of Christmas Eve, baby Emily was terminated and given a small, and awkward funeral. The occasion of his mother’s surgery at the same hospital, not far from Emily’s tiny grave, brings him full circle, examining the choices he has made:

I spent a lot of time wondering where it had gone so horribly wrong. Was the decision to terminate the pregnancy to blame? Not in itself, though I worried that my insistence on its being Fiona’s decision was something of a cop-out. Perhaps I should have offered myself as more of a sounding-board or even a punch-bag. Fiona never reproached me with a lack of support, or even hinted at it. But that dreadful period undoubtedly opened up a crack between us, a crack that later deepened into a rift that could not be healed.

Of course, not all marriages will end after a termination. But the idea that life will go on as normal, that the aftershock of such a destructive act will not affect relationships in the present, even into the future, is niavety. One very brave mother shared with us  how the aftermath of having aborted her son because of Down syndrome and some accompanying birth defects, set her into a course of depression and despair that nearly ended her own life. Although studies show that women who do not receive adequate counseling prior to an abortion (for any reason, let alone prenatal diagnosis) are likely to fare poorly, the only counseling many parents receive surrounding a prenatal diagnosis involves the percieved negatives involved with raising a child with complex medical and/or developmental issues – which, naturally, contributes to the decision to abort. It is a destructive cycle that too many enter into – but it doesn’t have to be that way.

See also: Charlie’s Ghost

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