Human Interest

Two years after her mother refused abortion, Eloise has defied expectations

spina bifida

Bethan Simpson’s story of refusing to abort her daughter Eloise because she had spina bifida shows that an adverse prenatal diagnosis does not remove the humanity of the precious life involved. All babies deserve to grow into the children they were meant to, and the presence of a disability does not render any human life less worthy of protection. 

According to The Daily Mail, the now two-year-old Eloise has defied expectations with what she can do despite being a child with spina bifida. 

“Eloise is now walking fine without any intervention,” Simpson said. “She doesn’t need any physiotherapy; she can run, jump, spin, climb a flight of stairs, climb tables, use her climbing frame and she’s very sporty.”

“We can’t believe how well she’s doing given her prognosis; we could never have imagined that she would be how she is now,” she added. 

As Live Action News reported in 2019, Simpson was 20-weeks pregnant when the doctors diagnosed Eloise with spina bifida. This condition causes a gap in the spine after the spinal cord fails to develop properly in the womb, and the doctors were quick to recommend abortion at the time.

READ: Prenatal surgery for twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome is saving lives

“That was never an option for us and something we never considered; we were told a lot of people choose to terminate because babies often won’t have function of their legs and can’t walk or talk,” the mother said in a statement published by The Daily Mail. 

After rejecting abortion, Simpson and her husband Kieron opted for prenatal surgery instead, which had just been approved in the United Kingdom. “I went to the Great Ormond Street Hospital and University College London Hospital where I had a second opinion and that’s when I was told about this new procedure that was being trialed,” Simpson said. “I was 25 weeks pregnant when they did the operation; the surgery was to correct the defect in terms of closing it and ensuring there was no more damage to her spine to improve her outcomes.”

“If we hadn’t done it, her nerve damage could have been significant and she could have had brain damage,” she said. “We were only the fourth one in the UK but I’m quite a positive person and I trusted them — now there’s a lot more of these procedures happening which makes me even more happy we went ahead with it.”

Some may look at a diagnosis like Eloise’s and wonder why her mother refused to terminate, seeing abortion as a mercy. But Simpson explained why it was worth carrying her daughter to term.

“It’s not a death sentence and I don’t think termination should be the first point of call,” Simpson said. “Even if she didn’t have the surgery, I know she still would have had a good quality of life. She may have still walked but needed to use splints but why do we judge that? People need to know it’s not the end of the world and there are other options to look at before opting for a termination.”

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