On 21st March, the mother of a ten-year old boy with Down syndrome in England gave an interview in which she spoke of how she had to fight for her child’s survival. Natalie O’Rourke discussed the challenges but also the wonderful experience of raising her son, Woody.
When she was pregnant, the parents were told their baby would have a high chance of having Down syndrome. At the time, Woody’s father asked if, in the case of a positive diagnosis, they would have “a few weeks” to decide whether or not to have an abortion. The doctor replied that in a case like Down syndrome abortion “is legal right up to birth”. Natalie was shocked and upset to hear this, causing her to leave the room.
Natalie described in the interview how she was pressurized to take a “pathway to termination” and how “no one seemed to consider that I might want [him] to live.” She described how an appointment was made for an abortion with MSI Reproductive Choices. When she expressed that she did not want to proceed with an abortion, the nurse said she would “keep it open for you in case you change your mind.” This pressure from medical professionals and her own family, including her husband.
Thankfully, Natalie opted not to proceed with the abortion and today Woody is a cheerful ten year old boy and Brentford FC’s “biggest fan”. However, Natalie’s story shows the unfortunate structural pressure often brought to bear on women who are uncomfortable with the idea of an abortion.