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Cleft lip abortion done 'in good faith'

(51 Posts)
Janos Wed 30-Mar-05 11:15:27

Just spotted this article in the Guardian - Idon't know if anyone else remembers this case, and thought it was worth bringing up as the dubject of late term abortions has been in the news recently.

Briefly (from the article) "Joanna Jepson, 28, now at St Michael's Church, Chester, but then a trainee vicar, found out about the procedure in 2002 when studying abortion statistics and suggested that it amounted to unlawful killing"

Was just wondering what people thought about this? IMO the right decision was made.

Janos Wed 30-Mar-05 11:16:04

Apologies for the bad typing, BTW

bubble99 Wed 30-Mar-05 13:16:55

The idea that abortion should be provided..."As early as possible and as late as necessary" Is, in my opinion sound. I am not "Pro-abortion" I don't think anyone believes it is an act without consequence whether at the time or in later years but I believe, on balance, that it is a necessary evil.

I think the whole Jepson case illustrates clearly the fact that the whole issue of disability can be so subjective. I don't think that women reject a foetus/baby and seek abortion lightly at a late stage of pregnancy. Late abortions are difficult both medically and psychologically for all involved in the process. A woman who has felt her baby move does not casually seek abortion.
A disability which may seem manageable to one woman/couple/family may be untenable for others for many reasons.
In this case the judge recognised that the doctors involved made the correct decision based on clinical evidence unknown to the rest of us.

fastasleep Wed 30-Mar-05 13:39:08

I agree with what the man from the cleft lip association said at the bottom, if it was clear that the child only had a cleft lip and pallate then personally I don't see how it was justifiable - I know that living with a cleft lip & pallate can be upsetting and painful and involve a lot of medical intervention but it doesn't mean that the child can't lead a fulfilling life. Obviously there could have been indications that something else was wrong that we don't know about....Bubble sounds much wiser than me!

fastasleep Wed 30-Mar-05 13:41:32

I found the news coverage of it all quite upsetting actually, as well as my personal opinion on the abortion I also think that putting a woman through even more pain by dragging an isolated case like this through the courts is pretty unjustifiable too!

bubble99 Wed 30-Mar-05 13:43:38

fastasleep. Wise enough to know that I shouldn't be here on mumsnet with my kitchen looking as it does. If anyone turned up they'd call social services.

triceratops Wed 30-Mar-05 13:59:48

I can't believe that anyone would have an abortion unless they thought it was absolutely necessary. We don't and shouldn't know the details of this case as it is between the family and their doctors.

HappyMumof2 Wed 30-Mar-05 14:01:40

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Blu Wed 30-Mar-05 14:23:34

I think I may be missing something, or confused, but isn't the point that when they did the abortion they were under the impression that there was a v severe disability, rather than cleft palate?
Still q's to be begged, but I thought that was what had happened.

bubble99 Wed 30-Mar-05 14:55:46

Yes blu, I think there were other clinical issues involved here and disabilities which we, rightly, have not been told about.

Socci Wed 30-Mar-05 15:09:51

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Caligula Wed 30-Mar-05 15:42:39

I think the problem is that the test which shows cleft palate, may also point to other more severe disabilities. The problem being that until the baby is born, you don't know if it's just cleft palate (fairly minor) or the others (major, but of which I am hazy).

I don't think that a woman should have to give birth to a child just because it can conveniently be adopted by someone else. If she doesn't want to go through the pregnancy and birth, it's a pretty barbaric idea to force her to.

I also don't necessarily think that the reason that people may abort disabled fetuses is because they don't value disabled people, but because they understand that the support they will get to bring up their own disabled child is often so sparse. If the support were better, maybe people would be less inclined to choose termination.

HappyMumof2 Wed 30-Mar-05 16:11:21

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Caligula Wed 30-Mar-05 16:21:17

I think there's a difference between going through the labour at 24 weeks and carrying the child for a further 16 ish weeks though.

When they do late abortions like this, the baby is actually killed in the womb, because once it is born, its right to life takes over, and the doctors have got to try and save it - they're not allowed to just let it die.

I agree it is bizarre that in one part of the hospital babies can be born at this very early stage and given all the help they can have to survive, and in another part they are killed in the womb to ensure against the possibility of them being born alive. However, I also think that what is not publicised is the fairly terrible outcomes for those babies who are born alive at 24 weeks - they really don't have very good lives in the main.

HappyMumof2 Wed 30-Mar-05 16:30:19

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vickiyumyum Wed 30-Mar-05 16:42:59

i didn't think that there was a test that could pick up cleft lip and palate and that it was only if it was picked up on a scan then the diagnosis could be made.
i personally believe that if a cleft lip and palate were the only form of disability (which this is not a long term problem in the vast majority of cases) then this was not a good enough reason to abort a baby. if there were other terminal abnormalities then that is a different case altogether. the problem with hearing these things in the media is that we nver get the full picture we are privy to the information that the media wants to give us or at best the information that the people that the story concerns are prepared to release.

SoupDragon Wed 30-Mar-05 16:58:48

I seem to remember a news story not so long ago that babies do, rarely, survive late abortion and the doctors do not, in fact, have to help them to survive.

Having a late abortion is not a decision taken lightly. Does anyone wonder what affet all this news coverage etc has had on the mother?

Caligula Wed 30-Mar-05 17:16:48

I don't know Soupy, it may well be one of those things that is different hospital by hospital. I just remember being told by a consultant that if I had an amnio test at 22 weeks and it was negative, then miscarried at 24 weeks, the doctors would have to try and save that baby. Whereas if the test was positive and I'd wanted a termination, they would have to give the baby an injection in the womb to kill her, so that there was no chance of her being born alive. (I had a horrible 20 week scan which led to these conversations!)

SoupDragon Wed 30-Mar-05 17:23:42

I think this is the story I was thinking about.

bubble99 Wed 30-Mar-05 17:38:34

There is a "Two Stage" abortion procedure which is/can be offered to women (It's often used for very young girls ie. 12-16 yrs or rape cases) to prevent them having to go through a labour.
Both stages are carried out under GA. In the first stage an amniotomy is performed (breaking the waters) and the cord is cut. The woman/girl then stays in the ward overnight until the following morning when the fetus/ baby is removed after a further GA. Gruesome? Yes. And certainly more risky medically. But a lot more humane for the woman/girl involved.

Caligula Wed 30-Mar-05 17:40:33

Sorry to be gruesome Bubble, but how exactly are the fetuses removed? By caesarean, or by induced labour under GA?

morningpaper Wed 30-Mar-05 17:48:37

Removed by hysterotomy, which is basically a caesarean. Generally I was under the impression that they were killed in utero by saline poisoning or simialr. There are cases however when the death is not successful and the baby has to be killed outside the womb - this is the case even after 24 weeks - however this is very tricky for doctors because it's a gray area apparently and there aren't hard and fast rules about what is supposed to be done if the baby survives the termination.

(Will root out some statistics on this later - they are somewhere on a government site in the middle of a boring report - I found them last week.)

bubble99 Wed 30-Mar-05 17:54:45

Caligula. Removed by dilation of the cervix and evacuation. Depending on the gestation this is either whole or "piece by piece." After the cord is cut during the first stage Laminaria (seaweed) "tents" are left in the cervix, these expand overnight thus dilating the cervix ready for the next stage. No incision are made.

bubble99 Wed 30-Mar-05 18:14:21

Doctors use ultrasound scans during these procedures. For early pregnancies it is to confirm that the uterus is empty after the abortion. For late cases it is to confirm that the fetus is dead before removal.

HappyMumof2 Wed 30-Mar-05 18:23:09

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