Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Abortion - My Response to Cathy Warwick

Abortion. It's a topic that massively divides and a very sensitive topic. Similar to the breastfeeding/bottlefeeding debate that will continue, the controversy and disagreement surrounding abortion will long reign. After reading the recent statements made by Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) I felt compelled to write about my thoughts. I was actually shocked and pretty horrified to read about the suggestion to scrap the 24 week limit on abortions and allowing women to abort at any time during their pregnancy - i.e potentially full term.

Before I continue please let me make it clear that as a Nurse I have to remain objective and non-judgemental when with patients, we are bound by the NMC code of conduct, we treat people as individuals and prioritise their care, we respect their decisions and treat people with kindness, respect and compassion no matter what. I will always respect what a patient requests and point them in the right direction allowing them to make an informed choice and I will discuss and ensure that the patient is making the right choice for them, and this is key........it has to be the RIGHT choice for THEM and I respect that. A pregnancy may not be right choice for everyone. If you are young, fall pregnant by mistake or through horrendous circumstances (e.g rape), you don't fond you are expecting until much later into the pregnancy or it simply just isn't the right time to have a baby these may be the deciding factors for having an abortion and every woman feels differently when it comes to pregnancy and for that I will do not judge, nor is it my place to, I am merely here to signpost and offer support as required, to listen and console as needed. Since becoming a mother myself I find it more difficult to get my head around the concept of abortion and the moral aspects surrounding it.

I am an emotional person, a Mum, a Nurse and all of these things encompass the way I feel, I simply cannot imagine why someone, a chief exec of a professional organisation would want to make such odd and in my opinion, quite frankly flippant comments about making abortion ok at anytime during a pregnancy. Of course these comments that she has made may have been ridiculously exaggerated or elaborated via the media but perhaps her comments were slightly ill planned and mis-worded. I feel these comments are not thought through nor are they taking into consideration the midwives that would have to deal with this during there career. Midwives are in their role to welcome babies into the world and empower women to birth the way the wish and provide holistic treatment but then at the other end of the stick at times they have the horrific job of delivering bad news, miscarriages and still born babies, this I cannot imagine. The world of nursing and midwifery is extremely diverse and we have to learn to put our own thoughts and feelings aside, and I do this when it comes to women requesting a termination of pregnancy, I don't know how I do it but I do, I put my personal feelings aside and treat the lady as individual and give her the treatment that she deserves. I try to understand and empathise but it can be difficult especially when I know the joy that children can bring, but then this is what Nursing is about, day in and day out we see patients that we might not agree with their way of living, their diets, smoking status etc etc but yet we still treat these patients as individuals.  I question the moral aspect of dealing with abortions after the 24 weeks mark, I really do, I almost feel it verges on barbaric and watching 'This Morning' the other day I did have to agree with the parts of the discussion that when does aborting a baby at full term not become a murder.......there is a very, and I mean very fine line here. 

Personally, I feel that the 24 week limit in the UK to carry out abortions is too high, from week 24 of pregnancy the foetus is deemed viable and with the medical advances these days a baby at this gestation can survive, of course it requires alot of medical intervention but I know personally of babies born at this age and thriving now. I simply cannot comprehend the thought of aborting a baby at this gestation. There is of course times when, god forbid, the decision of abortion is taken out of our hands and for medical reasons it is advised to have an abortion but for the dr's this is not an easy decision to make and never taken lightly. It is worth mentioning for those that aren't aware, currently under UK law, unless there is a genuine medical reason (i.e the mothers life is at risk, there is a extremely high risk that the baby would be born with a serious medical condition or the mother is at risk from permanent injury or it risks the the mental or physical health of the mother) that abortion over the gestation of 24 weeks is a criminal offence (without medical legal authorisation). 

You know, when I was younger and in my teen years I was immature and thought I knew everything but I was fairly sensible. I remember talking with my girlfriends what we would do if we fell pregnant. My thoughts and opinions back then were HUGELY different to what they are now but my thoughts on abortion were based on my lifestyle at the time and being wildly uneducated re babies and motherhood. I remember thinking that I would definitely have an abortion if I meant that I could continue to go out and drink and generally be a teen......sensible in a roundabout way perhaps but I genuinely didn't have a clue what having an abortion really entailed.

I do wonder if people realise the impact of aborting a baby over 30 weeks gestation, let alone full term, it is not just simply a case of taking a pill but a barbaric removal of the foetus........I will not go into it but I have previously discussed this with a GP where I work and it can be horrific. You can read a bit about it in this article (and yes I know it's the Daily Fail but still......) it does give a bit of an insight and actually it's a very well written and thought provoking article.

I just can't get my head around it, having 2 children and remembering the feeling of holding them in my arms as a newborn,it's like nothing else. I have friends that would give anything for a baby and I ask anyone considering an abortion to really think about whether it really is the right choice to make, if you are sure that it is the right choice and you are clear with your decision that this is the way forward that is effective decision making, but if you're not, even if there is a little doubt in your mind, please seek professional medical advice, come and talk us nurses, a GP or a healthcare professional and we will always listen and offer support enabling you to make an informed choice.
Please let me assure you that even though my thoughts might be different to yours this will never affect my treatment and to be honest you would not know my feelings on things as it isn't my place to instil my views on to you, I will always be non judgemental, approachable and compassionate to the choices that are made.

The RCM has issued a statement in response to the recent media coverage which you can read here, it is a fair and honest statement but it doesn't really answer the comments that were originally made, it more reiterates what the RCM stands for as a professional body and that the emphasis is on the women and empowerment to make choice.

Unfortunately, I think that perhaps the original statement from Cathy Warwick was perhaps taken slightly out of context, or not taken as it was meant to be or blown wildly out of the water by the press. In the above statement the RCM advise that: ‘Our recent statement on abortion set out our belief that abortion should be removed from the scope of the criminal law. We do not believe that it is right that it is still the case that women who choose to have an abortion can be criminalised and face prison.' However, I have to say that I would seriously question why you would not have considered an abortion much earlier in gestation.

I leave you with this. You see this picture. A baby, full term..........could you abort.....could you? I couldn't.

My 1st born - Alfie
My 2nd born - Elarna

Best of Worst

33 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you. The 24 week limit is too high. They were discussing this topic on TV yesterday and one woman wanted women to be able to have an abortion at any point during pregnancy. To me that's just unthinkable. great post #bestandworst

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  2. This made me really sad. I know what happens during abortion and as the baby gets older the process is absolutely shocking. I understand some women feel they have no choice or that the baby was terribly I'll anyway and it would have been no life for them, but I think the gestation period for abortion should be lowered drastically before its deemed criminal. To think of those kicks we feel at 17 or 20 weeks and picture those sweet faces during our scans when the baby has grown, I just can't imagine the awful thought of aborting a baby that big and active. Again, I'm pro choice but it does upset when I think about an innocent baby and the trauma it goes through should an abortion happen later in the pregnancy x #bestandworst

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  3. After having a baby at 25 weeks I know and have seen first hand how perfect and we'll formed babies can be and so 24 weeks is too high in my opinion. That said I think there could be circumstances where if the pregnancy was not known until a later stage termination could be an option ie for medical grounds if the baby was very poorly or the mums mental health an issue or say if it was a result of rape. In most cases pregnancies are detected well before this and I think 20 weeks should be more than late enough. Thanks for sharing and hosting such a long emotive topic! #bestandworst

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  4. Agreed, 24 weeks is far too high. This is a tough subject to cover, well done, well written. #bestandworst

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  5. Wow. I wonder why they are considering changes? This seems so drastic!! #bestandworst

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  6. I only heard Cathy Warwick's comments in passing and decided not to investigate any further as I thought they'd make me angry. That said, having read your piece, like you I wonder if her remarks were taken out of context. Although do they get media training in that sort of job?!

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  7. This is such a powerful post Helen and I admire your professional non judgmental stance whilst presenting your opinion. I agree with you. I would never judge another person for the decisions they make as only they know their situation and what is right for them. That being said I do agree that there has to be a point where the baby has rights of their own, and at 24 weeks - as you say - they can survive as a person in their own right. I read the Daily Mail article and I have to admit that it really shocked me. I had always been totally naive as to what an abortion at a later stage would actually involve. Reading what actually happens I find it nothing short of barbaric. My heart goes out to anyone who has no choice but to go through this experience and to the health professionals involved as it must be harrowing for them also. My personal opinion is that choice is important, but that choice at such a late stage should no longer be an option. Thanks for sharing and for hosting #bestandworst x

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  8. I watched that segment on this morning too. It was quite interesting to hear the thoughts on both sides. I was quite like you in the respect of your thoughts about abortion when you was younger. In that I would if I needed to but now that I am older and having the wider range of knowledge & experienced difficulties in getting pregnant my opinions have changed. I believe that every person should made a decision that is best for them and not to be judged but I think that there is a fine line when a pregnancy goes past 24 weeks, if not earlier. If a pregnancy is unwanted at that stage there could be other viable options such as adoption! There are so many people in the world that have empty arms. It such a tough one but in all honesty I just couldn't! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on such a sensitive issue!

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  9. goodness, I didn't realises they were thinking of upping the limit! Absolute madness in my opinion. Very well written and thought-provoking post btw #bestandworst

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  10. wow! I'm sorry and (personal opinion here) I do not agree either that abortions can be carried out at any point during pregnancy (unless of course for some of the reasons you mentioned above) and I also agree 24 weeks is far to high as it is. My teen was born at 29weeks and she was just perfect (small and kinda see through lol) but perfect! The fight the amazing doctors and nurses did to keep her alive in those first scary early days was nothing short of miraculous, and they will forever be my heroes. I couldn't imagine a baby like that being aborted... If abortion IS for some (and I do agree that for some if they choose too they should be able to do so without being judged) then I think you would know way before a pregnancy gets to 24 weeks or above. it's a difficult subject and there are going to be tons of opinions.... I applaud you for putting this post up. #bestandworst

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  11. You're very brave writing about this subject - I'm not sure I'd dare! Like you say it's a sensitive subject and everyone is different but I agree with your sentiments #bestandworst

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  12. Wow, brave post! I'm kind of in two minds about it to be honest. I agree with you to a certain extent. I do get everything you have written but what about the women who don't realise they are pregnant until very late in their pregnancy. I know it's that common but I have a friend who didn't find out until she was 20 weeks pregnant. Should you be forced to make such a huge decision in just four weeks? But as you say, babies born at 24 weeks have a great chance of survival these days. It's a tough one.

    #bestandworst

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  13. Over 24 weeks seems like almost murder really as they can survive and they look just like a baby! I know there will be people who find out late but to me I agree with you. I'd struggle to do it past 12 weeks xx #bestandworst

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  14. Since becoming a mum and carrying a baby, I have to say that my opinion on abortion has changed considerably. I still believe that it's a woman's prerogative, but at the same time I find it hard to swallow abortion later on in pregnancy - 24 weeks is too far. However, I do think everybody's story is different and it must be difficult for younger girls who don't find out until much later. xx #bestandworst

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  15. I am pro choice, however I do too think that the 24 week limit at the moment is too high and that the thought of extending it is ridiculous. After seeing my 20 week ultrasound with my son I realise just how well formed fetuses are at that age, and can only imagine how horrific abortion must be at that stage and onwards xx

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  16. I find it hard to imagine how anyone could terminate a healthy baby at any stage, so I'm with you Helen. That said, I also know life can throw some crazy twists and turns and it's not always easy to judge from the outside, until 'you have walked a mile in their shoes'. I would definitely be against the current law chaning, it seems barbaric to me to increase it any further from where it is...
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub

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  17. Thanks for this piece, I think it's really important to highlight these issues. I hadn't heard the Cathy Warwick comments and am going to go away now and read up on this.
    #coolmumclub

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  18. I wasn't sure I could read this piece when first invited to so left it to today. This post is incredibly moving and I feel abortion at any stage is wrong. #bestandworst

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  19. I have chosen not to think too much about this subject most of my life or would be crying buckets every day. 24 weeks is way too late I feel, though at the same time for those mothers whose circumstances you describe, need professional counselling and a great deal of help if they are going to be persuaded to keep the baby.
    If I was in that position, and had read your post, to be frank I would probably speak to someone else as I can see that although you'd be wearing your professional hat, what would come across from your final sentence and photographs is your wholehearted endorsement of giving life over abortion at whatever cost. A difficult subject though, and thank you for putting it out there. Jo

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  20. I have tears in my eyes as I read this. This is a heart wrenching topic for me.. Especially after waiting for years to have my children. And copious amounts of fertility treatment. Thank you for being so brave and addressing this topic. I'm sure many will agree with you and many will disagree. However, you have started a conversation. And that is what is important! xoxo #coolmumclub

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  21. I definitely agree that 24 weeks is too long and full term is just craziness. Surely at this point if you'd got so far down the line, then the best thing would be to have the child and then give it up for adoption. I personally don't know how people can do that but it has to be a better way. That way the person that doesn't want it, doesn't have to keep it and at the same time someone that is desperate for a child has one and hopefully the little innocent one in this has a family and a life! #coolmumclub

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  22. I definitely agree that 24 weeks is too long and full term is just craziness. Surely at this point if you'd got so far down the line, then the best thing would be to have the child and then give it up for adoption. I personally don't know how people can do that but it has to be a better way. That way the person that doesn't want it, doesn't have to keep it and at the same time someone that is desperate for a child has one and hopefully the little innocent one in this has a family and a life! #coolmumclub

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  23. I totally agree with you and even at 24 weeks it's too high. Yes I know people find out late but at that point in a pregnancy a baby is a baby. I'm my eyes though a baby is a baby at conception but everyone is different and I think having children makes it different too. #bestandworst xx

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  24. I feel 24 weeks is way too high- i once watched a documentary showing a woman at that stage having one and the limbs were taken out one by one. Horrific!
    I am fine with idea when it is a ball of cells but onces it has an operating heart and brain I start to feel uneasy
    #binkylinky

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  25. I just want to point out to all you who say 24 weeks is far too high. The limit is at 24 weeks because there are certain severe conditions (life limiting and incompatible with life) that you cant determine on the ultra sound prior to the 20 week scan, because the fetus is not well developed enough. Factor in that sometimes those scans are done at 21-22 weeks and you have to allow the parents to make an informed choice, and book abortion if they so wish.

    As far as I know, you don't get a termination post 20 weeks without some serious cause for one.

    Anyway, just wanted to mention this without being drawn into the debate of what is too far. I don't know what I would do if I was faced with a situation like that, and hope I will never have to find out.

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  26. I totally agree ...you nailed it..couldn't agree more...
    Upping the limit is barbaric!!....

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  27. I totally agree ...you nailed it..couldn't agree more...
    Upping the limit is barbaric!!....

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  28. It is such a tricky subject, so personal. After 3 miscarriages I could never see my self willingly loosing a baby. I think for people to make this choice they would have to really feel it was the right thing for them and the unborn child. I can not judge anyone when I don't know their story and I don't live in their world. I just know I would struggle to forgive myself if I had ever made that choice and I am so glad I never had to. I have a 12 year old and 9 year old daughter, and I pray they never have to face this decision either. #bestandworst

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  29. Back again! Thanks for linking up to the #BinkyLinky

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  30. Like you, my views on abortion have altered over the years. As a youngster I was very blasé about it but after having a child and looking more into fetal development I have become less comfortable with abortion than I was.

    However, I am still completely pro-choice and don't think a woman should ever be prosecuted for abortion. I think it was a thoughtless statement for Cathy to make but it's definitely been blown up and out of context by the media.

    Good on you for posting on such an emotive issue X #bestandworst

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  31. Also, just wanted to point out that I don't believe you can have an abortion after 12 weeks except in the case of severe medical risk to mother or baby, so although 24 weeks is shockingly high these are only carried out if the foetus has a severe abnormality x

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  32. It's a tough subject. I do agree with Laura's comment - I didn't think the very latest term abortions were for anything other than severe abnormality in foetus either (though I thought that applied to 20-24 weeks, not from 12 weeks).
    Personally, I do believe that the issue should always come down to the choices and rights of the mother, not the foetus. I think that logically makes more sense, and I think sometimes people do forget in the emotions of it to consider that an unborn foetus has no experiences, but a child born to a mother who was forced against her will to have it will have, and often the life and experiences following that will not be happy ones.

    What I PERSONALLY would be able to do, and when I PERSONALLY relate to a baby as its own being have changed since having children. But it doesn't change my objective view that the women whose body it is should ultimately get the decision, whether we would make the same decision ourselves or not. I don't think the current regulations are really too high, as people, especially those with unplanned pregnancies, often won't know for several weeks. If the limit was lowered to 12 weeks, as people often argue for, someone who is 10 weeks before realising is under ridiculous amounts of pressure to make a hard decision immediately.

    However, in terms of this suggestion to raise it to any time, including full term, I would not particularly think that was a good idea. Even putting aside that it is upsetting to imagine of course for anyone who has had a baby, I think there are a lot of other issues there that are being ignored. Would people choosing to do that really understand the implications and distress of delivering a full term stillborn child by their own choice? I don't think they would. It would be a terrible experience, and I think there would be a huge risk that people would not realise just how upsetting it would be, or just how difficult to live with it would be if they regretted it. So, no, I am very much pro-choice, but I do not think this was a well thought out suggestion at all. #bestandworst

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  33. I have just read your post and in my honest opinion unless there is a reason like what you mentioned,I believe that an abortion at any point is not acceptable from the time you can see the heartbeat,during one of my pregnancies I had multiple scans early on and to see the fetus growing and changing to get rid of that is something I could never imagine.everyone has Their own opinions but I honestly think if there is not a serious medical risk etc all abortions should be made illegal.

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