Babies we were told to abort

In January 2007 Glamour Magazine ran a feature about four women who were advised for different reasons to abort the child they were carrying. They didn't and they don't regret it. 

Below are their testimonies:

Leila Wilcox 26 is managing director of a children's toiletries company. She's single and lives in Oxford with three-year old Troy.

When the blue line emerged on the pregnancy test I couldn't believe it. Part of me wanted to scream from the rooftops, "I'm going to be a mum!" But the rest of me shook with fear at the fact that I'm jobless and pregnant by a man I barely knew.

A few months before I'd given up a steady job in sales to pursue an acting career. I was living at home, so I hadn't worried too much about not having a regular income. What I hadn't expected was to meet Paul. He was tall with blond, curly hair, typical surfer looks and an infectious sense of humor. Although he was 14 years older than me, within a few weeks we started seeing each other. 

One night, three months after we'd met, we had a silly conversation about becoming parents. In a completely compulsive gesture I told Paul I was going to stop taking the Pill. I didn't really believe I could get pregnant as I'd always had irregular periods. But ten days later I felt horribly sick and a test revealed I was having a baby. I immediately confided in my close friend, Sarah*, who was a single mum to an 18-month old baby. To my horror she told me to get rid of it, "You hardly know this man," she warned. "And look at me stuck home with a kid. You'll regret it if you keep it."

Sarah had found it hard to give up working and travelling to look after her son, and she'd also had post-natal depression. But as a mother herself, I just couldn't believe she was sitting there advising me to get rid of a baby. And it didn't help that my GP echoed her words. I did realise my situation was less than ideal - I had no money, and Paul and I hardly knew each other. But we were united in wanting to have this baby, and even at the ten-week scan my heart was surging with love for my child.

However, Sarah wouldn't let it drop and as my bump got bigger she became harder to listen to. In the end I stopped seeing her or answering her calls. She visited me once after the baby was born but it was very stilted between us. She seemed to resent my contentment.

Although our relationship ended after Troy was born, Paul and I are still friends. Troy has enhanced my life in so many ways - and helped me to find my vocation. Struggling to find soaps that didn't irritate his eczema; I set up a company called Halos and Horns, which produces chemical-free bath products for children. Although Troy lives with me, Paul and I share his upbringing, and the success of my company means I'm financially independent. It makes me shiver to think how easy it would have been to listen to Sarah. But what saved me - and Troy - from her advice was the powerful bond between us.

Lisa Green 35, a part-time administrator, lives in Kent and is married to Tim, 33, a fireman. They have two children; Sam five, and Harrison, two.

Tim and I were bursting with excitement when I got pregnant with Harrison. I'd had a terrible pregnancy with Sam - I was sick all the time and felt rotten - plus I had irregular periods so we were worried we might not have another baby.

This time I was huge due to excess amniotic fluid, the liquid that surrounds the fetus in the womb, but all the tests showed I was carrying a healthy baby boy. Excitedly we chose his name and looked forward to giving Sam a little playmate.

A few weeks before the birth my doctors drained the fluid to prevent premature labour. This was sent off for analysis - but when Tim and I were given the results the look on the doctor's face made my heart race.

"I'm sorry but I have some bad news for you," he began. "I'm afraid the tests have shown that your baby has Down's syndrome."

Tim and I looked at each other in total disbelief. How could this be happening? And then to our utter amazement our doctor added, 

"You should think about having a termination." 

As he outlined the reasons why, our shock turned to outrage. Our son was fully formed and had a name - how could he suggest such a thing?

He told us we'd have a baby with ‘mental retardation' and gave us a bleak picture of what lay ahead if we kept him: a potentially short life riddled with health problems. Struggling to speak, I croaked out that his suggestion seemed like murder. Tim squeezed my hand and forcefully agreed. The Down's syndrome Association made it clear how rewarding it can be to have children with that condition, and that they often have long and fulfilling lives. We vow to love our baby whatever happens.

When Harrison was born, in May 2004, I didn't see a Down's child just my beautiful son. Harrison is a healthy, happy, loving child and the thought that the doctor advised me to kill him shakes me to the core. I feel so sad that it's still acceptable to see Down's as a reason for termination.

There'll always be challenges. Harrison takes longer to learn things - for instance, he isn't walking yet - and there are constant development checks with specialists. However, he is the most adorable child and when he snuggles up to me or flashes me his warm loving smile, I know that it's all been worthwhile.

Stacy Jackson, 21, lives in Sunderland with her partner Lee Scott, 22, a shop fitter, and their son Jaxon, 21 months Stacy with son Jaxon

Lee and I met at school and have been together for five years. From the age of 18 I was desperate to have his baby and we were thrilled when, two years later I got pregnant. But when I went for a routine scan at 20 week the sonographer said, "I'm afraid I can see some abnormalities in the baby's brain. I'll need to show the results to your consultant."

We had to wait an agonizing two days to see the consultant but nothing could have prepared us for his bombshell. He was severely brain damaged, and there fore would be completely disabled

"Your baby may last a day, a week or a month," he explained, "but it's not just not possible for it to survive for long." He finished by saying I should think about having abortion. 

Each word was like a knife to my heart. The baby had just started to kick and every time I felt it our bond grew deeper.

Although abortion horrified us, Lee and I had to consider what we'd put ourselves through if we went ahead with the pregnancy. We kept saying to the consultant, "How can you be so sure?", almost begging him to change his mind. He remained adamant but offered us a second opinion.

We grabbed the opportunity as Lee and I couldn't bear to face the alternative. After further tests the doctor told us the baby had a condition called ventriculomegaly, where parts of the brain become enlarged. But, he added, there was a 60% chance of him being fine, although he might need an operation to drain excess fluid from his brain. Not perfect odds but they were enough for us. And when Jaxon was born on December 20, 2005, I held him close and whispered into his downy hair, 

"You're going to be fine." A scan a few days later showed there was no brain damage, although he did need the operation. When the doctor broke the news I cried with relief.

Since then every day has been a miracle. Jaxon is a happy, chubby, gorgeous little boy. What hurts is that, had I followed the original advice, my son wouldn't be here. I went through with the pregnancy .And all because one doctor was convinced he was right.

Novelist Tilly Bagshawe 32, lives in London and Bel Air with her husband Robin a banker 48. As well as daughter Sefi now 15, she and Robin have a son Zac, 27 months.

From the moment I met Mark, aged 15, I was besotted. He was charming, sporty and gorgeous. When I was 16 we started sleeping together. We used condoms but it was a bit hit and miss.

In the Easter holidays before my A-levels, my period was late. When my pregnancy test showed positive I was horrified. I couldn't be a mother I was going to Cambridge University in the autumn. I rushed to the phone and rang Mark. We had a crisis meeting in which my cool boyfriend became a blubbering wreck and begged me not to go through with it. But his weakness gave me strength and I told him I'd sort this out for myself. A huge protective instinct had kicked in. I'd have this baby, come what may.

My parents were shocked, but vowed to support me. Everyone outside the family was against me, though. When I went to see my doctor he suggested an abortion. I retorted, "I have no intention of getting rid of this baby," and he asked me how I could possibly go to university and enjoy my "bright future" and social life. I repeated that I was keeping my baby. I was at a Catholic boarding school and they made me feel terrible, too. When I sat my A levels I was escorted to and from the exam room to spare the girls any "moral contamination". I managed to get three As and then decided to take a couple of years off. When Sefi was a born a few months later we all fell madly in love with her. I hadn't heard from her father since I was four months pregnant - he just couldn't deal with. But from the day she was born I just stopped caring.Eighteen months after her birth, Sefi and I went to Cambridge and the university was incredibly supportive. I missed out on the social life, and it was hard when I got a pressurised job in the city after graduating nut I managed. And now, when I look at the lovely girl Sefi's become, I think of my GP's so-called advice. To me it would've been wrong to end an innocent life just because I'd been an irresponsible schoolgirl.

© Glamour Magazine