Jane Elliott of BBC sent a gentle PFO email in response to my complaint.With every story we try to give both sides of the story and obviously with a story like this I was keen to get some balancing quotes. Abortion stories like this, we feel, do belong in the health pages. By telling her story Gianna is hoping to influence changes in the current abortion law, which would obviously affect a lot of people. But I do take on board your comments. And thank you for contacting us.
She didn't engage with my specific complaint that the BBC headline 'How Gianna Jessen defied medical science to live
' misrepresented the facts- that this was a botched procedure, and not a miracle. The point is that medical science prevents this happening when properly applied for the purpose of abortion.
The gestation at which viability can occur- the crux of Gianna's argument- is an entirely separate deadline which will be constantly reduced with technology, and is thus essentially arbitrary. 'Quickening'
(sensing of foetal movements, at 18-24 weeks gestation) previously formed a commonsense legal limit to abortion, although of course this was subjective and malleable. That was before the technology for detecting foetal abnormalities was available, introducing a competing and overlapping issue in therapeutic abortion.
The problem with abortion is that it is by nature a lesser of judged evils. Contrary to Gianna's impression, we pro-choice women do not have regular abortion parties, with 3rd trimester procedures a treat for high days and holidays, the later the better. No- abortion is a last ditch choice for women with little choice, and never entered into without sadness and regret, but as a lesser of evils.
Personally, I've been clever and frankly fucking lucky enough to not need a termination (touch wood). I have two planned children that delight my life. But national statistics tell that one in three of my girlfriends will have had a termination, the vast majority at <12 weeks. Sounds about right. And I have family experience of one pregnancy that probably could and should have been stopped for the greater good- that of my now-dead brother Daniel Seth, born early with microcephaly and multiple developmental abnormalities. I can't really imagine how mum and my dad suffered through the 18 months till he died (in a children's hospice, of an untreated infection), but she's mentioned the abuse she got on the street from concerned, busybody wifies when they saw his scrawny, misshapen form, which only added to her burden of guilt.
Daniel's pregnancy was overseen by the Glasgow developer of ultrasound, Prof Ian Donald- a staunch anti-abortion campaigner. Ultrasound had identified that Daniel was not growing properly, and my mum spent her last 3 months as an inpatient in hospital while the doctors tracked his failure to grow, before delivering Daniel and passing him over to my mum and dad to nurse until he died. Daniel was not a normal baby, and never did what babies do, like smiling or recognising a face. He couldn't suckle properly, and as I remember as an 11 yr old, was always crying and seemed in pain. Dad looked after me as well as he could while mum was in hospital, but this was a terrible time for our family, and even worse after Daniel came home to languish in his Moses basket. From that time I remember mostly lots of silence and my mother's gold flock-woven dressing gown with its kaftan cut and paisley pattern, worn all the time.