Bethan Simpson decided in 2019 to have her baby despite being advised to abort because she was going to be born with spina bifida. After undergoing surgery in the womb, the girl, now two years old, against all odds can run and jump and lead an active life like any healthy child.
Bethan received the news of her daughter’s condition, whom she named Eloise, when she was 20 weeks pregnant and decided to undergo corrective surgery for the congenital anomaly that had just been approved in the United Kingdom, according to Life News.
“Spina bifida is when a baby’s spine and spinal cord does not develop properly in the womb, causing a gap in the spine,” according to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) website.
It is a type of neural tube defect, which is the structure that will become the baby’s brain and spinal cord in the weeks that follow. The neural tube forms early in pregnancy and closes approximately 4 weeks after conception.
According to CDC statistics, about 1,427 babies are born with spina bifida each year in the United States, or 1 in 2,758 births.
Bethan said that when doctors performed a scan and detected the birth defect, she was offered an abortion right then and there.
“That was never an option for us and something we never considered; we were told a lot of people choose to terminate because babies often won’t have function of their legs and can’t walk or talk,” Bethan said.
So it was that in January 2019, the then 28-year-old woman chose to undergo, the newly approved surgical procedure.
“I was 25 weeks pregnant when they did the operation; the surgery was to correct the defect in terms of closing it and ensuring there was no more damage to her spine to improve her outcomes,” the young mother explained.
And she emphasized that had she not decided to have the operation at that time, the damage would have been extensive and probably with permanent brain sequelae in her daughter.
Bethan added, “Eloise is now walking fine without any intervention.” She even said that the girl can run, jump, climb stairs and climb and that “she is very athletic,” without having to need physiotherapy.
“We can’t believe how well she’s doing given her prognosis; we could never have imagined that she would be how she is now,” Bethan rejoiced.
Finally, she stressed that “people need to know that it’s not the end of the world and that there are other options to consider before opting for a termination [of pregnancy].”
In this regard Catherine Robinson, spokesperson for Right To Life UK, a pro-life charity in the UK that defends the right to life from conception, said:
“Bethan is absolutely correct to emphasise that babies with spina bifida can have a good quality of life. Her daughter is proof of this. It is indeed unwise and unfair to immediately resort to terminating a pregnancy because the child may be born with a disability.”
“It is a grave injustice that babies undergoing surgery for spina bifida receive painkillers but babies being aborted at the same gestation do not. This contradiction is a direct consequence of an abortion ideology that dehumanises the child in the womb,” Robinson added.
“At the same time, through this amazing surgery, the humanity of the child is more evident than ever. But were the Department of Health and Social Care to admit the obvious, it might lead to the collapse of the whole abortion ideology,” she said.