Human Rights

Mom of daughter with spina bifida pressured to abort before confirmed diagnosis

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British mom Meghan Elise Bell recently reported that as soon as her preborn daughter was suspected of having spina bifida, doctors pressured her to have an abortion. Now, she’s sharing their story to give hope and strength to other families in her situation.

In an article for iNews, Bell said, “There was pressure on us from the beginning, even before the diagnosis was confirmed, to have an abortion,” she said. However, Bell already knew what life could be like with a disability, and was unafraid — her mother had multiple sclerosis (MS) since the time she was 30 years old. “To me, disability was not a frightening unknown,” she explained. “And our baby was already a member of our growing family. Yet, professionals presented abortion to us like it was the usual route.”

READ: Spina bifida surgeries in the womb get a little easier with new 3D models

Bell said that the issue of abortion was raised at every appointment. This, she said, exposes the flaws in a society that continually encourages parents to abort children who may have disabilities:

The brutal truth of that argument broken down is: ‘Would you like to erase this baby and try again?’ What kind of a message is that in this society, where we seek to create equal opportunities, regardless of ability? Where should this equality begin: before or after birth? Already, we can see the harm that this abortion-focused ‘solution’ is leading to.

Baby Evelyn was born at 26 weeks, and faced an uphill battle in the NICU. Bell said that while she watched medical professionals care and fight for her daughter’s life, she couldn’t help but contrast it with the idea that some in medicine also advocate killing babies in the womb at the very same age, especially since abortion is legal up to birth in the United Kingdom for any kind of fetal anomaly. She continued:

We watched her development for those final 14 weeks of what should have been happening in the womb. The idea that termination would have been possible at any of those stages is heart-wrenching. The medical teams working day and night in Neonatal Units fight to keep these people alive, people who (had they still been in the womb) would be within the age limit to be terminated.

Bell further called out society’s flawed view of people with disabilities by mentioning a female showjumper in Britain who has spina bifida, and who last week raised eyebrows when she announced she was suing her mother’s doctor for “wrongful conception;” in other words, the woman thinks that she should never have been born. Bell pointed out the tragedy of this situation, writing, “What kind of society have we become when someone with disabilities truly feels so undervalued?”

Bell ended her article by saying she hopes her story will be a source of hope to anyone facing a similar situation. “I want people reading this story to see hope in a situation that is often painted as hopeless,” she said. “I want to tell you that having a child with a disability is not the alien lifestyle you might be imagining in your darkest moments. It’s so normal and full of times that make you cry and smile, just like all journeys of parenthood. I think babies with Evelyn’s condition deserve to be treated equally, before and after birth.”

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