Opinion  |  

My job now includes the taking of a baby's life

Queensland midwife on what changes to abortion law mean at the frontline

Sue* is a midwife in Queensland who has been grappling with her job, after abortion laws changed late last year in her state. These changes mean women can access abortion up to 22 weeks with “no questions asked”, and to full term with the sign-off of two doctors. Sue feels strongly that people should consider what it’s like at “the coalface” because it is not politicians or activists who act on the implications of changed abortion law. It’s doctors and midwives. Sue says her job description was once all about the preservation of life. Suddenly, it also includes the taking of life.

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My profession is amazing. When I tell people I’m a midwife, they’re so excited.

“Wow, aren’t you lucky!”

“So cool you get to be there for a baby’s birth.”

“You must never get sick of seeing life.”

All true sentiments.

My job was not amazing this weekend, though. Into my birth unit came a woman aborting a healthy 17-week gestation baby. Perfect. Healthy. Full of potential.

Maybe she was an accident. Maybe mum was recently single. Maybe mum had no money. Maybe she was using drugs. I don’t know. What I do know is that my beautiful profession was now involved in the taking of life. Ending a baby’s future.

With the core of our being, midwives sustain life. Over two decades I have battled besides a re-sus [resuscitation] cot working with a neonatal team to save a premature baby. We’ve worked for hours. We’ve raced women to theatres to desperately try to deliver their babies surgically, as their tiny heart beat fails. We give everything we have to deliver a live baby.

I’ve told women, “I’m sorry, I can’t find your baby’s heartbeat…” and held them while they sob a most devastated cry of disbelief and grief.

I’ve helped hundreds of women powerfully birth their babies, a baby welcomed into stunned, amazed, joyful arms.

Find me a politician who will insert the medication to end a baby’s life.

How is it that my unit is now performing abortions? How did this happen?

Find me a politician who will insert the medication to end a baby’s life. Which politician will look into the woman’s eyes while she consents to this procedure? Tell me who’s going to dispose of life in the bin?

This weekend it was 17 weeks. What about 27 weeks? What about 37 weeks?

In one room, there’s life and just next door we end it.

I’ve just written a letter explaining to my boss that I can’t be involved in this horror. This stain on my profession. For how long will I be able to refuse?

“There won’t be that many,” management says. Won’t there? Isn’t the ending of just one life, one too many?

Abortion is now in the health system. Free. Available at any gestation. Paid for by Queenslanders. Performed by caring health professionals. The murder of babies has become part of my profession.

My heart breaks today, as surely God’s does too.

*Sue is not her real name. She asked to have her identity protected, as she believes she would be sacked if her employer linked this article to her. Sue provided her reflections to Emily’s Voice, a pro-life organisation in Australia that seeks to reduce the abortion rate.

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