Prenatal testing has become ubiquitous around the world, and while there are many legitimate reasons to undergo prenatal screenings that don’t involve abortion, for too many people, it is nothing more than a way to weed out children whom they deem unworthy of life. The combination of this eugenic mindset and an increase in prenatal testing has led to even more disturbing occurrences: wrongful birth lawsuits, the latest of which was filed against the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. Edyta Mordel, originally form Poland, claimed that she was not given the chance to undergo prenatal testing, and her now-four-year-old son, Aleksander, was born with Down syndrome. Had she known before he was born, she claims would have had an abortion, and is now seeking £200,000 ($249,000) in damages from the NHS.
According to the Telegraph, Mordel was “very upset and angry” after Aleksander was born and it became clear that he had Down syndrome, claiming that she believed she was safe after undergoing screenings. However, the NHS claims she declined the screenings after learning there was a risk of miscarriage, with the sonographer recording “Down’s screening declined.” However, Mordel denies this.
“If she would ask me if I wanted any test for Down’s syndrome, I would say ‘yes’,” she said in a court hearing. “I was always sure about the decision and I always wanted it. I already spoke with the midwife about Down’s syndrome screening. I had informed myself. I watched a lot of videos and read about screening. I knew from the start that I would agree on the Down’s syndrome screening and I would not make any other decision.” Coldagh Bradley QC, her lawyer, explained, “Miss Mordel would have been offered an abortion and her partner, Aleksander’s father Lukasz Cieciura, agreed they would have terminated the pregnancy.”
Had Mordel been able to get the screening she wanted, she likely would have undergone a dilation and evacuation, or D&E, surgical abortion, as she claims to have wanted the screening at 12 weeks. The most common second trimester abortion procedure, a D&E is a violent procedure that takes several days and begins when the abortionist inserts laminaria into the mother’s cervix. After her cervix has dilated several days later, the mother returns to the abortion facility, where the abortionist uses a sharp instrument called a sopher clamp to rip the baby apart, limb from torso, at a time when he can almost certainly feel pain.
This is the fate that Mordel claims would be preferable for her son, simply because he has a disability. As Joelle Kelly, mother to a child with Down syndrome, previously said, “Can you imagine what that must feel like? People are out and around in your community wanting you not there; I can’t fathom what that would feel like.” In this case, Aleksander will inevitably grow up and learn that it is his own parents that would prefer he did not exist.
Virtually all people with Down syndrome report being happy with themselves and their lives, while the majority of parents of children with Down syndrome say they love their children, who have given them a more positive outlook. And medical advances have meant that people with Down syndrome are living longer, fuller, healthier lives than ever before. Yet they’re still seen by people like Mordel as undeserving of the basic right to life.
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