Medical indications for aninclude risk to the mother or the possibility that the baby would be born with a handicap such as Down’s syndrome, neural tube abnormalities such as spina bifida, or damage by rubella. Down’s syndrome and spina bifida can usually be detected by a test called amniocentesis in the fourteenth to eighteenth week of pregnancy. Amniocentesis carries hardly any risk to foetus or mother.
Other factors which would influence a doctor to recommendwould be the emotional and social circumstances of the woman and her family. It is now recognized that new babies and already existing children can be hurt, physically and emotionally, by parents who have not wanted their arrival. A doctor may agree that abortion is probably the lesser of the two evils.
In some cases a woman might not want the baby but finds abortion unacceptable. In such a situation, she can carry the baby and give it up for adoption at birth. Some doctors feel that the guilt and regret about giving a baby for adoption may exceed that of having an abortion but it still remains as an alternative to unhappy parenthood.
Choosing to have an abortion is never really easy. In spite of the myths which claim that women who choose an abortion are hard or callous, and that some women opt for abortion as preferable to the discipline of contraception, all available evidence contradicts these impressions. However, when a woman has been allowed to make her choice without coercion and to discuss and examine her feelings about the situation, any feelings of guilt and regret will be overcome sooner or later.