By ELLY CARTER
It’s a conversation my husband and I have had three times, during each of my pregnancies. Those first 12 weeks are always such anxious ones because you haven’t told anyone you’re pregnant and you’re hoping the pregnancy will stick. All the while battling the worst of pregnancy symptoms – morning sickness and crippling fatigue – that makes hiding anything almost impossible.
But as the time for the 12 week ultrasound gets closer – the optional one where you have a bunch of crucial genetic tests including the nuchal test for Down syndrome, your thoughts turn away from whether the pregnancy will stick towards whether the baby will be healthy.
Every time, I’ve asked myself: what if my baby has Down syndrome?
And if it did, would I keep it?
It’s a conversation I play out with myself and my partner in the days leading up to the ultrasound, building in intensity to the day itself when it grows to a crescendo as I lie on the table with my belly in the air and the sonographer taking those neck fold measurements that determine the risk of Down syndrome.
In both pregnancies, we spoke about it at length, even in the car on the way to the scan.
The hypotheticals. The decisions.
And it seems like at the moment, everyone is having those same hypothetical conversations. Even if they’re not pregnant.
Since the news broke last Friday, I’ve heard so many people talking about this; what would I do if I found out at 12 weeks that my baby had Down syndrome?
For the fourth time in my life, I’ve been asking myself the same thing.
I believe there’s a difference between a child and 12-week old foetus. I believe in abortion. I don’t believe in abandonment. I believe mothers should be given the option to decide as to whether they want to be the carer of a special needs child (who will eventually become a special needs adult) but I think that decision can only be made once. I believe that decision can only be made in the first trimester. From that moment on, regardless of what the parents’ decision, there’s no turning back.