‘I hope my baby has Down syndrome’
A PREGNANT Queensland woman has told how she desperately wants to deliver a child with Down syndrome.
As women with a high chance of having a baby with Down syndrome report feeling pressure to abort their pregnancies, Brisbane mother Natalie Terry-Bedwell says she wants to relive the joy she has had with her two-year-old, Archie, who has the chromosomal condition.
A global campaign is emerging to stop the eradication of Down syndrome people from the planet. This week the US Congress heard "my life is worth living" arguments from adults with the condition. Improvements in prenatal testing is leading to widespread terminations, raising the ethical issue of which humans deserve to live.
Very few babies with a definite diagnosis are born as Australia has a termination rate of up to 98 per cent in some areas. Queensland Health reports a decline in the number of births from 2014 to 2016. Some countries have a 100 per cent abortion rate.
Australian Medical Association chief and obstetrician Dr Michael Gannon says he has witnessed first-hand a negative approach to the pregnancies in the clinical setting.
Ms Terry-Bedwell is pregnant with her seventh child and is horrified by the termination rates and that a baby with Down syndrome can be terminated at 40 weeks.
"There are other options. My husband and I have made inquiries about adopting a child with Down syndrome. I can see why women feel they should terminate as the diagnosis is often presented in such a frightening way. But we feel we won the genetic lottery with our sweet little Archie," Ms Terry-Bedwell said.
Mothers connected to T21 Mum Australia Network are calling for national guidelines to ensure families are given objective information before screening and after so they can make more informed choices.
More than 500 mums of children with Down syndrome turn to the platform for information and support. It was set up by Queensland woman Joelle Kelly.
"We are mothers who want to do the best by the next mother behind us. A diagnosis in 2017 cannot be delivered as it was in 1950," Ms Kelly said.
Dr Gannon agrees the system could work better for these mothers with "sympathetic, compassionate, accurate and flexible information before and after testing".
"Down syndrome is the most common cause of intellectual impairment and this can put great pressure on families. There should be no judgment on a decision either to interrupt or continue the pregnancy," the AMA president said.
Toni Davidson is mum of three and lives in Chinchilla with husband Chris. Unusually, Toni gave birth to two girls with Down syndrome.
"I wasn't upset. I am an older mother and am so blessed to have my beautiful family."