Fear in the face of Grief
Posted by Tracy

Without giving any details I want to report that many years ago when I was a fairly new student to counselling I was asked to listen to the story of a young couple who had just experienced the abortion of their child.  The pregnancy was going well and the suggestion was made that the age of the mother indicated that Downs Syndrome might be an issue for the couple.  They were not worried and agreed to the procedure.  When the results were returned they were quickly told that the test showed that Downs could be present, they were uncertain what this meant and chose to have the pregnancy terminated.  By now the pregnancy was 28 weeks, and so the baby was prepared and born dead, given to the mother to hold and cloth.  At some point in the story the couple became aware that an error had been made and they had aborted a healthy baby and that Downs was not present, many apologies were offered, and the medical team looked again at the systems that had let down the couple so badly.  The mother did not trust the medical team after this and did not go for follow up treatment.  The father was very concerned for his wife and said she had lost interest in life, sex and he wondered if they would ever have a child.

In the time of grieving the couple learned a lot about Downs Syndrome and went to meet some children with the condition.

The parents were very angry and felt they had been pushed into taking the decision without the information they needed, and they said it was sickening the way that everyone told them they had done the right thing.  While all they really wanted was to have the grief over and life back to how it had been.

After a while I lost touch with them, but I often wonder how they are doing now and if they ever got over this trauma in their lives.



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