When I first heard Gammy’s story, I was both frustrated and pleased.
Frustrated for the surrogate mothers who go through this often out of desperation; for the couples who pay for it out of a misguided, and sometimes disordered, desire to have a family; for those children, like Gammy and Pipah, who may struggle with the thought of how they were brought into the world.
But at the same time, I could not help but be thankful for the way the media has reacted.
Many times since starting medicine, I thought I was the only one who finds some of the current practice of obstetrics just plain wrong. Turns out the rest of society agrees with me after all. Just to enlighten you on some of the things that happens in the real world:
A doctor, explaining the nuchal translucency scan (a prenatal test) to a patient, “Trisomy 13 and 18 you don’t have to worry about because they won’t live on anyway. But Trisomy 21, that’s Downs’ syndrome…that’s really bad. Because they can live. They can live for a long time. That’s gonna be a big burden on you and you don’t want that.”
A midwife finds that a patient had high risk of a Down Syndrome baby. First thing she says, “So your test shows you’re at high risk. Do you want to terminate?” To this, the mother replies, “No I don’t want to do that… Now that I think about it, I kinda wish I never did the test. It just made me so anxious and I realised I would never terminate my baby anyway. I only did it ‘cause my husband said he wouldn’t want to raise a disabled child.”
In a lecture on prenatal diagnosis and screening, “What’s the issue with having a late termination? The woman will have to go through an induction of labour and there’s a chance that the baby will breathe…so we then have to do fetocide. That’s when you inject KCl into the baby’s heart so they’re not born alive.”
Maybe with Gammy’s story, society will realise that 95% of Australian babies that are found to have, or at high risk of, Down Syndrome are terminated, even during the 2nd trimester…95%! Gammy is one of the few who has survived this current genocide.
Maybe this time, people will see the immorality of ‘foetal reduction’, aka the abortion of excess foetuses in women carrying multiple pregnancies.
Maybe women and couples will think twice about doing prenatal testing because you WILL be asked if you want to terminate the baby.
Perhaps we will finally reject the IVF practice of discarding embryos found to have genetic or chromosomal abnormalities.
Or, even better, reject the practice of IVF and surrogacy altogether.
As Dr Jerome LeJeune said, “Again and again we see this absolute misconception of trying to defeat a disease by eliminating the patient! It’s ridiculous to stand beside a patient and solemnly say, “Who is this upstart who refuses to be cured? How dare he resist our art? Let’s get rid of him!” Medicine becomes mad science when it attacks the patient instead of fighting the disease. We must always be on the patient’s side, always.”
Now that the media is finally doing it right, let us not stay silent. It’s time to enact change. Speak to you friends, family, colleagues, doctors, politicians…Don’t be afraid to challenge their thoughts! We must speak for the numerous unborn children who cannot speak for themselves. With our conversations, we can open peoples’ eyes and hearts.