Abortion after 24 weeks - good enough reason?


Is a cleft palate reason enough to abort a baby after 24 weeks of pregnancy?

The lady who made the complaint to police was herself born with a severe facial deformity, and I can understand her reasons.

I should say that I think its wrong to abort any baby, no matter how far into the pregnancy. I also think its especially wrong to play god by ending a life because the mother doesn’t want to give birth to a less than perfect baby. The 24 week period here seems arbitrary.

Depends on the severity of the midline defects. If the baby merely had a cleft palate without associated abnormalities, I’m thinking that some extremely good quality counselling and contact with an organisation which supports parents of babies with cleft palate would have been the better choice.

I’d be really interested to know if it were simply a cleft palate in which case, I don’t think it’s a good enough reason. But I don’t think there’s enough information on the specifics of the case to really know what the situation was and why the doctor performed the abortion.

No, that’s not a good enough reason. Whatever the specific details of this case, it is an outrage that apparently the law is so vague about late-term abortions that a cleft palate WOULD be enough reason to get a very late-term abortion if the mother wanted it.
I disagree with the comment in the article from Ann Furedi that we should just “trust” the doctors in this case. Anyone who deals with such critical life and death issues should NOT be above scrutiny. I’m glad this Joanna Jepson is bringing attention to this issue.

I agree with Herge.

Furthermore, I’m wondering about the term “cleft palate.” I always thought that, while unpleasant, a cleft palate was more of a cosmetic deformity than a medical issue. I could be wrong.

If I’m not, isn’t aborting a child for that reason almost the same as aborting one because it had the wrong hair color or big ears? :confused:

Hell no it’s not a good enough reason! My head about exploded when I read that story. Grrrrrr.

God bless Jepson!

Jes, you’re probably thinking about a harelip, where the sides of the upper lip don’t fuse together properly. A cleft palate can be a pretty big deal until corrected, since in some cases the fissure goes all the way through the hard and soft palates. A friend of mine had a little boy with such a horrible cleft palate that, from what she told me, his nasal passages communicated with his oral cavity. He’s four years old and has had five surgeries, and he may need more work later on. When he was a baby, he had a really hard time suckling because he just couldn’t get good suction going in an open system like that. As he moved on to more solid foods, he had a lot of problems with stuff getting stuck in the cleft. He’s lucky, though; he’ll probably have everything taken care of before he’s six, while some kids with cleft palate have to keep having work done till they’re adults.

So, no, it’s NOT like aborting because your baby will have big ears.

I think the fact she doesn’t want to have it is good enough reason. Nobody should be forced to give birth.

Her body, her decision, whatever you think of it. If a baby has a cosmetic deformity, it wouldn’t be enough to make me choose to get rid of it, and if it was a relatively minor physical defect like this, it still wouldn’t. But I’m not the one who has to take care of her baby, so she can make whatever decision she feels is right.

My thoughts exactly.


I agree with Badtz Maru, Excalibre, and ruadh. Until it’s born it’s her body, not the fetus’s and what she does is her business, not the governement’s and certainly not any of ours.

I don’t normally quote bumper stickers, but I find this one very apt: “Disapprove of abortion? Don’t have one.”


As you can tell, cleft palates aren’t just an issue of cosmetics. I know of one family with a little boy who has a severe deformity. It’s affected his life in many serious ways.

From the site quoted above, here’s the somewhat standard route for correcting the deformity:

Primary repair- repaired at approximately 10 weeks
Palatal repair- repaired at approximately 9-12 months
Secondary repair- if needed- repaired at approximately 4-6 years
Alveolar cleft- repaired at 8-10 years
Final repair- if needed repaired at 14-16 years

In this case, the boy had extra repairs along the way, and was still left quite significantly disfigured. The cleft extended from the palate to the nose. As a baby, he was failing to thrive, and spent a while in the hospital just trying to get fed until they could get the primary repairs done. He had a rather severe facial cleft (an oro-occular cleft). Go to the picture gallery of the http://www.widesmiles.org and look up oro-occular clefts. It will give you an idea of what’s involved in raising a child that will go through that many surgeries, and troubles over the years…

I mean… it ain’t like an abortion for a kid with big ears, as someone said earlier. Depending on the nature of the cleft, I can understand the mother’s decision. Besides, it’s her body, it’s her decision. We can all be romantic and say that someone would have adopted the child, and yadda yadda yadda, but in the real world, it ain’t that easy.

Until the baby is born, “it’s her body”? Even if the baby is past the point of viability outside the womb? That sounds barbaric to me.

It sounds like you consider an unborn baby to be no more than an unusual tumor. Tumors don’t think and dream and respond emotionally or have their own consciousness. Now I’m not going to insist that “life begins at conception” or anything, but certainly a fetus in the 3rd trimester cannot be tossed into a wastebasket with no moral concerns. What’s so different about the baby after it’s born that makes it wrong for the mother to just kill it off then? But up until birth, killing it is OK, because “it’s her body”? I just can’t comprehend the rationale behind that.

Seems like you’ve been brainwashed by the rhetoric, or more likely, turned off by the rhetoric coming from the pro-life camp, which I agree, often makes even less sense. But come on, use your brains people, don’t just swallow this crap hook line and sinker. Think about what you’re saying actually MEANS instead of just repeating the rhetoric.

Simply because we disagree doesn’t mean that I haven’t thought about it. Your statement is condescending as it gets. I HAVE thought about it, and came to a different conclusion than you.

So have I. The issue for me is simple - as long as it’s part of my body, it’s my choice. And this is true no matter what stage of the pregnancy.

Agreed. We are talking about a fully-formed, viable fetus…OLDER than 24 weeks apparently. Premature infants born at 24 weeks have a good chance of survival, and it’s just a matter of time before technology improves the survival odds even more.
The idea that a fetus is fair game to be killed until birth seems very arbitrary to me, since birth can take place at wildly different times from one pregnancy to another. I feel human rights should be established based on having the qualities of a human being, not just based on where you happen to be located at a given moment. Going from the uterus to a nursery is essentially just a change in location.
If it’s wrong to go to the hospital NICU and violently kill a premature infant born at 24 weeks, I don’t see why it’s right to violently kill a 24 week old fetus in the womb that just hasn’t happened to be born yet. Let alone aborting a 30 or 40 week old fetus - which seems to be acceptable to the people here who are saying it’s just “a part of the mother’s body” until birth.

Back to the cleft palate issue, I don’t see why it’s such a terrible thing that correcting cleft palate involves surgery. At least cleft palate is a correctable condition. It’s not a condition that is hopeless and will inevitably ruin the child’s chances for a normal life.
Surgery is unpleasant, but so are a lot of things that kids go through routinely. Getting braces put on your teeth can be painful and time-consuming, I’m sure - but that isn’t a reason to kill the kids who need them.


Do realize we’re not endorsing this particular woman’s potential decision as much as stating a vehemently pro-choice stance.

In my mind, this is, at best, morally gray. At worst, selfish and monstrous on the mother’s part. (I lean toward “morally gray”, myself, but don’t have enough details to really judge the situation.)

Legally speaking, though, I think Britain’s abortion law seems well-crafted, and that it should be up to the mother and her doctors to decide 1) if this is a serious defect qualifying for abortion at this late date, and 2) if she should have the abortion.

I disagree. Putting aside the issue of women who were raped, I think every pregnant woman has an obligation to care for the baby growing inside her. The baby had no choice in the matter - the mother did. With a few exceptions, every woman has choice over whether she can get pregnant when having sex.

Sure the baby is part of your body, in a sense, but that isn’t an excuse for having it aborted. I tend to think of pregnancy more as having a very tiny human being growing inside of you, rather than being “part of your body”.