Lethal discrimination against babies who may have a disability remains common. If a potential disability or genetic abnormality is detected in the womb, parents are often advised to end their child’s life in an abortion. This horrific and unjust treatment prompted Texas Right to Life to spearhead efforts to protect tiny Texans from discrimination in the womb with the Preborn Non-Discrimination Act (PreNDA).
A recent story from England demonstrates that the dire predictions are sometimes wrong and every child, no matter the potential disability or medical challenge, deserves a chance at Life. The Scottish Sun shared the story of baby Penelope, born in early May. Before birth, Penelope appeared to have two different life-threatening conditions. Instead of waiting to see how her condition developed or offer potentially life-saving interventions after birth, several doctors advised Penelope’s parents on three or four occasions to end her life through abortion.
Penelope’s mother, Kimberely James, told the Sun, “She is our miracle baby.” Kimberely and her husband Nick told the Sun that they were first alerted to a potential medical challenge at a routine 12-week ultrasound. Penelope appeared to have hydrops fetalis, an abnormal accumulation of fluid around the baby’s organs that can be fatal. Doctors predicted that Penelope would not live and strongly advised her parents to undergo abortion. Kimberely told the Sun, “We said no because it was absolutely not what we wanted to do.”
Additionally, while doctors predicted a poor outcome for their baby, doctors could not provide an answer for why Penelope was experiencing hydrops or how her condition might develop. Kimberely explained, “We thought if they don’t know what it is then we’ll say ‘no’, even if it was a really poor diagnosis.”
A month later, at 16 weeks, Kimberely had another ultrasound of her daughter. Defying doctors’ predictions, the hydrops had disappeared. However, the ultrasound revealed another condition, cystic hygroma, fluid-filled sacs or cysts. Kimberely said, “I was again told I could abort the baby but I just trusted that she would survive.” The family says Penelope’s medical team was “gobsmacked” that the hydrops had disappeared and could offer no reason. Kimberely told the Sun, “The doctors all said it was unheard of for the hydrops to disappear and we still to this day don’t know what caused it or why it went away.”
Despite the fact that doctors initially advised the parents to abort their daughter due to hydrops, which disappeared without explanation, upon discovery of the cystic hygroma, doctors again pushed the family to end their daughter’s life. As the Sun observes, “After being warned for the fourth time that your baby was unlikely to survive, many women would have given in to doctor’s advice.” Tragically, many mothers do not know they have another choice. Kimberely’s courage in choosing Life for her daughter shows that Life is always an option.
On May 9, Penelope was born at a healthy 7lb. 6 oz. with no indication of abnormality or medical challenges. Kimberely said, “We are so in love with her and so thankful that we continued with the pregnancy despite the extremely poor prognosis at the start.” Penelope underwent close examination and screening, and the hospital found nothing concerning. Her mother said, “The doctors were really, really shocked because they weren’t expecting it to disappear and the consultant couldn’t believe it.”
The fact that so many medical professionals forcefully advised Penelope’s parents to end her life violently in abortion instead of recognizing the Right to Life of a living child with a beating heart shows how anti-Life views have infiltrated much of our culture. Sometimes this attitude affects even the diagnosis of babies after they are born. Much of our culture mistakenly believes that the value of a human Life is dependent on arbitrarily assessed “quality of Life” and abilities, failing utterly to recognize the sanctity of all human Life.In Penelope’s case, the health challenges that concerned the doctors disappeared without explanation. For other babies, the diagnosis or concerning findings that are assessed before birth do not disappear. Even in these cases, abortion would not be “justified” and would be equally inhumane, barbaric, and unnecessary. As one mother who gave birth to a son with a life-limiting condition said, “I wanted to hold him and meet him.” Every child, no matter his or her disability or medical condition, deserves a chance at Life and the opportunity to experience love.