As part of your decision-making, you may need to investigate what a termination involves – mothers, fathers and other parents often want to gather as much information as possible. A medical team is best placed to discuss a termination procedure with you and answer questions about the details of what it involves.
In terms of making the decision though, these are individual circumstances for each family and it is important you aren’t pressured. There is no right or wrong during these times and decisions either way can be equally painful. Sometimes parents call it making the “least worst decision”. But not even that resonates for everyone. You might change your mind repeatedly, swinging back and forth, until you come to a decision. The responsibility can feel like a very heavy burden.
Some parents want the option of continuing with a pregnancy and for their baby to receive perinatal palliative care if born alive. If you want to consider this, raise it with your medical team now. In some cases it is possible, but not all.
A parent can sometimes feel relief, or partial relief combined with other emotions, when they discover termination is possible. Keeping a baby alive can involve a lack of information about their future – their health, life expectancy, medical treatment and potential suffering. Because of this, parents sometimes know soon after a diagnosis that they will make the painfully difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy.
Sometimes, parents imagine or hope for a miscarriage or stillbirth to end their baby’s life, so they don’t carry the responsibility of making that decision. If you have thoughts or feelings like this, know that it isn’t unusual and you are not alone, or a “bad” parent, for having them.
There is a long history of stigma and judgement attached to terminations and abortions in Australia. The background to this is often political and/or religious. This can cause extra distress for some parents and make decision-making even harder. Some parents also face barriers from their health providers – for instance some doctors or hospitals don’t offer terminations on religious grounds. People seeking terminations, including for medical reasons, sometimes have to look for a different health provider to carry out the procedure if their hospital or obstetrician says they can’t do it.
A termination for medical reasons might also clash with your own values, beliefs or religion and this can be a complicated issue. It is also common to worry about your own extended family or friends judging your decisions due to their beliefs.
It is up to you how much information you share with people at this time. Some parents find themselves in a situation where one partner can be open with their family about the circumstances, while the other partner does not feel as comfortable sharing the details with their own family. Differences are common and to be expected. As much as possible, communicate with each other about any differences and try to offer support.