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