Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 70(2) May 2020


Tony ColeDear Editor,

As the former medical director of the Lejeune Clinic for Downs children, it was a joy to assist parents and their lovely children. Many of the mothers had persisted with their pregnancy knowing the diagnosis before birth, but they had been made to feel that they were under an expectation to have an abortion. This was often repeated at each ante natal visit by different midwives. Some had also been given out dated information about Downs Syndrome.

I recall one case in particular. She was a middle aged professional woman who had been deserted by her partner. She had repeatedly stated her wish to continue with her pregnancy. She said the lowest point was when the paediatrician asked if she wanted the baby resuscitated. In the event the delivery went well and the baby was in good condition.

My colleagues and I approached the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology offering to hold a joint meeting to update them on the current outlook for Downs persons. I further suggested that a form be attached to the woman`s ante natal notes stating her wish regarding the continuation of her pregnancy after a single discussion with a senior health professional.

Neither suggestion was taken up. I reluctantly came to the conclusion that the RCOG was indifferent to the needs of these women.

Consultant Paediatrician rtd

An amended version of this letter was first published in the Catholic Herald.