Abortion and IVF

Lois Rogers writes in the Times about the apparent ‘Scandal of aborted IVF babies.’ I hadn’t intended for my first post to be about abortion, but this article has annoyed me a great deal.

Firstly though, to nail my colours to the mast – I am strongly pro-choice on abortion. I have long believed that women should have the right to choose whether to continue with a pregnancy and believe that only the individual woman is in a position to make that decision. In my twenties I did voluntary work for pro-choice organisations in the UK and whilst I wondered if being pregnant myself might change my views it actually strengthened them. Before being pregnant I had no idea of the sheer physical impact a pregnancy can have, even in the very early stages. I can’t imagine the pressure of an unwanted pregnancy both physically and emotionally and believe it incredibly cruel to make a women continue with this any longer than she wishes. As soon as possible, as late as necessary etc etc. So that’s me, pretty firmly in the pro-choice camp then.

Now the IVF issue. It took us over 18 heartbreaking months to conceive our little boy and during this time we sought fertility help from the NHS. The service we received was excellent, but it wasn’t quick. We waited four months from initial GP approach to our first consultation at the fertility clinic, and then another four months for our first treatment. We didn’t need to go down the IVF route but I read enough testimony to be aware of how physically, emotionally and financially gruelling it is. I’m sure IVF isn’t something that any couple enters into lightly or if they have any other choice to conceive their child.

So my main issue with this article is its assumption that IVF and abortion are taken lightly by women. That women can just swan into a clinic and get IVF at the drop of a hat, and then – oops, I’ve changed my mind – go grab a lunchtime abortion. The wheels of the NHS and people’s lives just don’t work like that!

Whilst we can’t possibly know what has prompted women to seek an abortion following IVF, we can pretty safely say that neither choice has been taken lightly. Whatever has changed in their circumstances they didn’t foresee an abortion at the end of their IVF journey. At some point this was a wanted child and the circumstances that might lead to a women choosing an abortion at this time are likely to be complex and agonising. Describing them as having ‘changed their minds’ and making a ‘social decision’ is a disgraceful dismissal of what is no doubt one of the most serious decisions any woman may take.

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One Response to “Abortion and IVF”

  1. Deeply Flawed But Trying... Says:

    I received a response from Prof-Bill Ledger, who was quoted in the article as saying this was a ‘tragedy’- I posted the comments in my blog- he was referring to the tragedy faced by these women- and had no comment on the rest of the article. A piece of hurtful anti-abortion propraganda, aimed at women who have had to make choices that I can’t imagine.

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