Westen, J.H. (25 Feb. 2009). Mother "Pressured" to Terminate Pregnancy of Trisomy 18 Child at Catholic Hospital. LifeSiteNews.com From: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/feb/09022507.html on Feb. 25, 2009.
LONDON, Ontario, February, 25, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In the wake of the National Post article whitewashing the practice of 'early induction' of babies with lethal fetal anomalies at the Catholic hospital in London Ontario, a mother who was offered the procedure is now willing publicly to tell her story. Nikki Cooke says she hoped that when the original LifeSiteNews.com story on the procedures taking place at St. Joseph's hospital was published, what she calls "eugenic abortions" would finally come to an end. (see the story: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/dec/08121111.html)
She explained to London Bishop Ronald Fabbro in a chance meeting on January 20, 2009 that she was pressured to terminate her pregnancy by 5 doctors at the Catholic hospital and by the hospital ethicist Fr. Michael Prieur, despite the fact that neither her life nor health were in danger. Eight days later Cooke wrote a lengthy letter to the bishop with a complete description of the circumstances of her experiences at the hospital.
The National Post article was published a full month after that conversation on February 20. In that article Fr. Prieur alleges that the procedure - early induction on babies with lethal fetal anomaly - is only undertaken when the health or life of the mother is at risk and Bishop Fabbro, in both a photo and statement for the article, appears to indicate full support for his chief ethicist. (see coverage: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/feb/09022402.html )
Nikki Cooke and her husband Brian spoke with LifeSiteNews.com about their ordeal, which began in December 1996. A routine ultrasound at 12 weeks detected problems with their unborn child. Further tests revealed that the child had Trisomy 18, which a team of five doctors from the hospital informed the couple is a deadly anomaly incompatible with life.
"Each of the five doctors on the team at St. Joseph's Hospital said, now that our baby has a deadly anomaly they would not operate on the baby to correct defects and their recommendation was to terminate (the pregnancy)," Mrs. Cooke said.
"We were pressured to have an early induction by the team of doctors on the Committee at St. Joseph's Hospital and if we did not choose this option and the baby was born alive they said, 'We will not resuscitate your baby,'" related Cooke. The couple has five letters, one from each of the doctors to their family doctor, stating the recommendation to terminate the pregnancy.
"We were shocked by this recommended option and the lack of respect for life, as we were in a Catholic Hospital," Cooke explained. "We told the team of five doctors, we cannot have an abortion and stated we were Catholic. One of the obstetricians said, 'The Catholic Church will back you up, and there is a Committee here at St. Joseph's Hospital that you should speak to.'"
Asked about the role of Fr. Prieur, she said: "Fr. Michael Prieur told us that he was on the Committee at St. Joseph's Hospital with a team of doctors and a midwife and that he was already made aware of our case." She recalled that "he told us the Church will support us if we choose to end the pregnancy through early induction."
Cooke added: "He explained how it would be done and that we would hold our baby until he died. We were confused, mortified and devastated besides our moral reasons why, we knew that ending a pregnancy at any stage was abortion. After Fr. Prieur finished counselling us I said, 'We cannot stop the Hand of God and decide when our baby was going to die.'"
While some have taken offence at the headline of the original LifeSiteNews.com exposé, which was "Twenty Years of Eugenic Abortion at Ontario Catholic Hospital," the Cookes feel strongly that the practice at the hospital is just that - "eugenic abortion".
The couple relates that they "chose life," against the advice of the doctors and Fr. Prieur. However, the child died in utero a week prior to birth.
The silver lining to the story is that the couple's faith was strengthened by the experience.
"By choosing life, Brian and I grew closer in our relationship with each other, with our children and especially with God," she explained. "Had we chosen the 'death of our child', our lives would have been nothing but bitter turmoil not to mention, depression and needing a significant amount of counselling afterwards. God truly blessed us and continues to do so. We thank God that He entrusted to us the care of this little soul who would be with Him for Eternity."
The couple now have seven living children.