Melbourne Sonographer Tells the Reality of Late-Term Abortions
The following is a testimony written by a sonographer working in Melbourne today. Their story dispels the myth that late-term abortions are extremely rare in Victoria and only ever carried out due to extreme foetal abnormalities.
The reality is, every year in Victoria over 300 human lives are terminated in the womb after 20 weeks. And, as this Melbourne sonographer shares, some are aborted for the most cosmetic of reasons.
A Sonographer’s Story
I have worked as a sonographer in Melbourne for over 10 years and can personally attest that non-medically indicated abortions occur at a high frequency and during all trimesters of pregnancy. Primarily, the reason cited is one simply of convenience. Without ever asking why, I’ve been told ‘it is not the right time’, ‘my family is already too big’, ‘I don’t have the energy’, ‘it was a surprise’ or ‘I’m not in a relationship’.
I do not wish to convey judgement at this as much as simply explain the current state of affairs to those who may have been misinformed. Nonetheless, it is something that weighs heavily on my heart.
Mothers undergoing screening for abortion (which involves assessing the location, viability and gestational age of the pregnancy) often request not to view the child’s movements on the monitor, or hear their heartbeat – both of which are almost always clearly visible/audible at 6 weeks gestation, and sometimes earlier.
This seems to convey a state of willing and intentional ignorance. It tells me that the parents know this is not simply a clustered group of cells, but a living being whose termination is unambiguously immoral. People often ask to look at their gallbladders or their kidneys – why not this?
If we don’t see or hear the consequence of our choices, then we can pretend they don’t exist. I, of course, am sufficiently practised at expressing no emotion (apart from understanding) when this request is made and always immediately comply. Who am I to judge? What right do I have to force them to see?
Less Than Perfect
One particular scan still bears its scars on my soul. The parents had presented for a routine morphology scan (21 weeks). During the scan I detected a minor defect known as a cleft palate. This is often an isolated finding, often purely cosmetic, and is readily correctable with minor surgery. I explained and reassured the parents of this and they left in seemingly good spirits. Not long after, I was informed that they had decided to terminate the pregnancy – against all medical advice. This was accompanied with a pat on the back, so to speak, for a job well done.
My wife and I, almost without hesitation, internally requested an offer of adoption be forwarded to the parents as we felt that this would present an elegant solution – one that would allow the child to survive and the mother not to bear the weight of her decision, or suffer the horrible experience of a late-term abortion. This request was denied and there was no further way to proceed without breaching patient confidentiality, so they never received this offer.
The child would have been close to 25 weeks by the time the abortion was performed, a stage of development where he may quite well have survived should the mother had given birth even then.
We still think of this little boy who would have lived if not for an inconvenient blemish that made him less than perfect. Aren’t we all less than perfect? Why do some imperfections carry a death sentence?
I often struggle to reconcile that the better I am at my job, the worse the outcome for the child.
I often struggle to reconcile that the better I am at my job, the worse the outcome for the child. Of course, I can never express these sentiments to patients, nor should I as a health professional. Every autonomous individual has the right to decide how their health is managed – and this must be so, else we would have a paternalistic system where the clinician’s values are forced upon the vulnerable. Yet, in over 10 years I have not once managed to reconcile this belief with the treatment of society’s most vulnerable, who are so easily discarded without ever having their voice heard.
Last year, concerns like the ones expressed by this sonographer were raised during the abortion debate in NSW. As the ABC reported, Dr Deborah Bateson, the Family Planning NSW Medical Director, was “concerned by some of the reporting during the debate that women might have late-term abortions for reasons such as cleft palates.”
When asked about this reality, she shrugged it off as a hoax. “Late-term abortions have been almost trivialised in some of these stories and we know this never happens,” she said.
Sadly, at least in Victoria, it absolutely does happen.
And Victoria’s inhumane abortion laws provides no protection whatsoever for those healthy late-term babies who are unlucky to be a little less than perfect
Please share this story and join with March for the Babies as we take a stand for both mothers and babies.
Thank you to the sonographer who shared his story with me and I have kept his name private for his protection.