IVF pregnancies are being aborted because the baby has Down syndrome

Sad news.

The Daily Mail had sad news to report this week. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority found that over the last five years, 123 IVF babies were aborted because the baby was found to have Down syndrome.

Over five years, a total of 123 foetuses conceived through IVF-type treatments were terminated after the mother was told they suffered from the genetic abnormality.

That equates to a termination on average once a fortnight.

… The data held by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority shows that Down’s syndrome was the most commonly given reason for an abortion, cited in 31 of the cases – three times as many as in 1999.

Foetal abnormality was the next biggest reason for abortion, accounting for 19 cases, while 15 babies with Edward’s syndrome – another condition caused by the presence of an extra chromosome – were also terminated.

As it is not mandatory for reasons for terminations to be recorded, the number could be higher. No reason was given in 22 cases. Between 2005 and 2009, some 123 foetuses with Down’s were terminated.

This is, in a way, even worse than your typical Down syndrome abortion. In the case of IVF, these are typically women who are desperate to have a baby, couldn’t conceive conventionally, and had to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to successfully get pregnant. But then, when the baby they’ve so longed for and worked so hard to conceive turns out to have an extra chromosome, they kill it? How does someone spend thousands of dollars to get pregnant and then abort the pregnancy because the baby isn’t perfect?

Pregnancy isn’t like buying a designer handbag. You don’t spend huge sums of money just to throw it away when you spot a flaw. If people really want to be parents that desperately, then how could they throw away the baby they’re finally able to conceive? There’s no fine print to being a parent, no “I’ll love you unconditionally only if you’re perfect.” If someone would go through all the trouble of getting pregnant through IVF, spending the thousands of dollars it requires, only to have an abortion simply because the baby doesn’t meet his or her standard of perfection, then perhaps he or she wasn’t ready to be a parent after all. We need to stop treating children like consumer goods, ready to be tossed out or thrown away whenever we find them flawed, inconvenient, or unwanted.

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