When prenatal tests revealed Courtney Baker’s baby had Down Syndrome, her doctor recommended she have an abortion. He said it would decrease her “quality of life” significantly to have such a child and continued pressuring her to choose abortion even after she decided against it.
After giving birth to a healthy baby girl with Down Syndrome, whom she named Emersyn Faith, Baker was confident she had to send a message to that doctor.
A friend of hers, who also had a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome, had experienced a completely different relationship with her own doctor. Rather than try to convince her that her unborn child was better off dead, he told her the baby was “perfect” before birth — and after.
Two women, two very different experiences with the same diagnosis. Baker doesn’t want any other women to feel the devastating pressure to kill their children like she did.
“I knew how important it was going to be to write that letter, before Emmy was even born,” said Baker.
Receiving the news that your child has Down Syndrome is not what parents are hoping to hear — and it’s true, abortion rates for such a diagnosis are high — but it’s clearly not a doctor’s place to pressure anyone to terminate an otherwise healthy, viable pregnancy.
In fact, it’s not a doctor’s place to pressure any woman to abort in any situation whatsoever. The phrase “no means no” pertains to more than one situation in life.
There is a happy ending in that Baker is now raising her perfect little Emersyn, but perhaps her letter – which she mailed to him and posted to a website focused on children with Down Syndrome — will cause this doctor to rethink his approach to vulnerable women facing some very tough news.
Here’s Baker’s letter in full:
A friend recently told me of when her prenatal specialist would see her child during her sonograms, he would comment, “He’s perfect.” Once her son was born with Down syndrome, she visited that same doctor. He looked at her little boy and said, “I told you. He’s perfect.”
Her story tore me apart. While I was so grateful for my friend’s experience, it filled me with such sorrow because of what I should have had. I wish you would have been that doctor.
I came to you during the most difficult time in my life. I was terrified, anxious and in complete despair. I didn’t know the truth yet about my baby, and that’s what I desperately needed from you. But instead of support and encouragement, you suggested we terminate our child. I told you her name, and you asked us again if we understood how low our quality of life would be with a child with Down syndrome. You suggested we reconsider our decision to continue the pregnancy.
From that first visit, we dreaded our appointments. The most difficult time in my life was made nearly unbearable because you never told me the truth. My child was perfect.
I’m not angry. I’m not bitter. I’m really just sad. I’m sad the tiny beating hearts you see every day don’t fill you with a perpetual awe. I’m sad the intricate details and the miracle of those sweet little fingers and toes, lungs and eyes and ears don’t always give you pause. I’m sad you were so very wrong to say a baby with Down syndrome would decrease our quality of life. And I’m heartbroken you might have said that to a mommy even today. But I’m mostly sad you’ll never have the privilege of knowing my daughter, Emersyn.
Because, you see, Emersyn has not only added to our quality of life, she’s touched the hearts of thousands. She’s given us a purpose and a joy that is impossible to express. She’s given us bigger smiles, more laughter and sweeter kisses than we’ve ever known. She’s opened our eyes to true beauty and pure love.
So my prayer is that no other mommy will have to go through what I did. My prayer is that you, too, will now see true beauty and pure love with every sonogram.
And my prayer is when you see that next baby with Down syndrome lovingly tucked in her mother’s womb, you will look at that mommy and see me then tell her the truth: “Your child is perfect.”
“I hope he sees Emmy. I hope he sees my words on paper,” Baker told ABC News. “Emmy is proof that children with special needs are worthy and can change the world. She’s doing it right now.”