Like Katie Price, I would have aborted my child if I'd known he was disabled

I'm not ashamed of the terror I felt when I became a mother to a disabled child at 23 years old

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The Independent Online

I was 23 when I first held my son in my arms. It was supposed to be one of the most wonderful moments of my life. After a week of labour and an emergency C Section, I was glad it was over, and I was looking forward to spending the rest of my life as a proud and caring mother.

But when this puny looking, yellow tinted creature was handed to me, it wasn’t what I was expecting. After a few moments he was whisked from my arms into a special care unit, my supposedly happy moment of becoming a mother quickly snatched from my hands.

My world was then shattered with two words: Down Syndrome. The words washed over me as I tried to take it all in. In a daze, I took my baby home.

I was reminded of all of this, and how devastated I felt, when Katie Price said on Tuesday that she would have got an abortion if she had known of her son Harvey's disabilities when she was pregnant with him (he was born blind, autistic and suffers from Prader-Willi syndrome). “I was young when I had Harvey and I admit it: If I'd have known he was blind when I had him, as harsh as it sounds, I probably would have aborted him,” she said.

Katie Price 'would have aborted' son Harvey if she'd known of disability

Some people have clearly been horrified by Price's disarming honesty. “Can't believe Katie Price said she would have aborted Harvey if she knew he was going to be born blind,’ posted one Twitter user. “Did Katie Price really say that if she'd known about Harvey she would of aborted him? He's going to be thrilled when he hears that,” tweeted another.

I’m shocked too – shocked at why anyone would respond like this. Because I know exactly how Price would have felt. As much as I love my son, raising him has been no picnic, and at times I wonder how I will find the patience and strength to make it through the day.

There is no doubt I would have chosen a termination if I had been told about my son’s condition while I was pregnant. As an immature 23 year old, I would have asked myself – how on earth will I be able to cope with bringing up a child with disabilities? What quality of life would he have? Would it be fair on my parents who would have to help me?  

For all the pros on the table – the love and bond that I would share with my child, and the reward of raising my son and watching him grow, the cons would have won. I'm not ashamed to admit it; at that time, the fear of not knowing how good or bad things could be would have terrified me.

In the last 13 years my son and I have fought through some tough times, but he is now living a full and happy life. If I was given the same choice now, there’s no way that I would choose abortion, and it would seem that Price feels the same way. “Now, no way,“ she said when asked if she’d still abort a disabled child. ”If I got pregnant again and they said they had disabilities I’d definitely keep it. I'd even adopt a child with disabilities. Until you're in that situation you don't know.“ 

Leigh Edwards with her son, who has Down Syndrome

And that’s it – until anyone is in that same situation, they’ll never know what might go through their minds. If women like Price pretended like they’d never had such thoughts just to please others, then who will there be to let other women in similar situations know that they’re not alone, and that they shouldn’t be ashamed? 

My son and I are now strong enough to cope with anything, but I only have this strength through age and experience. Unfortunately, not every woman will always have this strength to raise a disabled child, and termination can be a clear choice. Because while abortion may take a life, it can also give it back as well.