THE CASE this week of a 26week baby who survived an attempted abortion and was found to be normal emphasised the question mark over the use of abortion to prevent the birth of handicapped children. A Commons debate on restricting abortion is due a week today.
Mrs Susan Green, a Catholic, was told by doctors that the child she was carrying would be so badly deformed it should not be allowed to live. "The doctor said there was a deformity, and the pregnancy would have to be terminated," Mrs Green was reported to have said.
She was given tablets to induce labour in hospital, and when they did not work was put on a hormone drop. A baby, weighing I lb 12oz, was delivered and when doctors found it appeared perfectly formed, they rushed it to a premature baby unit and then to intensive care.
After several weeks of' transfusions, respiration aid and physiotherapy, she was allowed home, weighing 441b.
Mrs .Green had refused an amniocentesis test which could have shown a likelihood of normality at 20 weeks, because of the risks involved. Doctors had thought abnormality "a strong possibility" after twice using ultrasonic scans.
, Mrs Green's husband, Arthur, said: "We must be the luckiest mum and dad in the world. Susan said: "I don't agree with abortion, but they told me there was no alternative," Mrs Nuala Scarisbrick, Life administrator commented: "One wonders how many perfectly healthy children have been aborted. Tests are not accurate. Even amniocentesis; which carries a risk, can only show the presence of abnormality, not its extent. In any case, you don't treat handicap by killing the person. Some doctors pressurise women into having an abortion." This week Dr Gerald Vaughan. Minister for I lealth replied to British Medical Association guidelines allowing doctors to give abortions to girls under 16 without parental knowledge.
He said "Of course parents should know what is happening to their children." Only in rare cases should it be otherwise, he added.
Meanwhile the Secretary of the BMA has written to every MP opposing the abortion amendment Bill sponsored by Mr John Corrie.
Next Friday's debate of the Bill is set to be clogged by more than 30 amendments proposed by proabortion MPs grouped round Mr William Hamilton.
Unless the Government gives the private member's Bill extra time it will fall. Mr Norman St John Stevas, Leader of the House, has suggested that it was the precedent for giving Government time, as in the case of the Steel Bill, that introduced widespread abortion in 1967. His view is shared by Mr Michael Foot the shadow Leader.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children held a mass lobby at Westminster on Wednesday at which thousands of supporters from all over the country attended.
The most unusual way of arriving was adopted by the Mayor of Accrington, Kenneth Hargreaves who sailed from Newcastle upon Tyne on the battleship HMS Nubian's last voyage.