But before you judge her, she’s advising you to consider her position. She and her husband are getting to the age that they may soon need their children to take care of them.
That will be difficult for her son Stephen to manage, she claims.
“Perhaps you’d expect me to say that, over time, I grew to accept my son’s disability,” Relf writes in a commentary on the Daily Mail. “That now, looking back on that day 47 years later, none of us could imagine life without him, and that I’m grateful I was never given the option to abort… However, you’d be wrong.”
Relf says that while she does love her son, “and am fiercely protective of him,” she knows that hers and her husband’s lives “would have been happier and far less complicated if he had never been born.”
“I do wish I’d had an abortion. I wish it every day.”
Relf justifies her feelings by stating that if her son had not been born, “I’d have probably gone on to have another baby, we would have had a normal family life and Andrew would have the comfort, rather than the responsibility, of a sibling, after we’re gone.”
(Andrew is Stephen’s older sibling, seen here on the left in an old family photo. Stephen is on the right.)
Relf says that her son Stephen “has brought a great deal of stress and heartache into our lives,” noting that he “struggles to speak and function in the modern world.”
“That is why I want to speak in support of the 92 per cent of women who choose to abort their babies after discovering they have Down’s Syndrome. Mothers like Suzanne Treussard who bravely told her story in the Daily Mail two weeks ago.
“Suzanne, who was offered a termination at 15 weeks, braved a backlash of criticism and vitriol from some readers.
“But I’d challenge any one of them to walk a mile in the shoes of mothers like me, saddled for life as I am, with a needy, difficult, exasperating child who will never grow up, before they judge us.”
Opponents claim that it’s quite the leap to assume that abortion for Stephen would have resulted in an improved quality of life. They also note the parents with Down syndrome children who never regret having them.
In fact, Brian Skotko, a physician in the genetics community writing for USA Today, did his own research that indicated a complete opposite of the stats that Relf shares in her commentary. Here’s what Skotko found.
“My research colleagues Sue Levine, Rick Goldstein and I recently surveyed more than 3,000 families nationwide who have a member with Down syndrome. The positive results might surprise some: 99% of parents say they truly love their son or daughter with Down syndrome; 88% of brothers and sisters say they are better people because of their sibling with Down syndrome. People with Down syndrome themselves spoke up, too: 99% are happy with their lives, and 97% like who they are. My sister with Down syndrome certainly does. (I often wonder: How many Americans can say the same?)”
Nevertheless, Relf maintains that abortion would have been the right call, noting that people who judge her “should experience how it feels to parent a grown man, who is no more able to care for himself than a toddler — and at a time of life when your children should, all things being equal, be taking care of you.”
What do you think, readers? Are Relf’s views that she wishes she would have had an abortion Draconian or justified? Do you feel it’s unfair to judge her?