A tale of two mothers

by Janice Gillgren

Come with me now to a fictional ward-room in your local maternity hospital or ward to meet mother A (I’ll call her Amy).

“Dr S… Will my baby live?” Tears moisten Amy’s eyes, but she holds them back, waiting for the doctor’s reply.

“We’re doing the best we can, Amy. The placenta is too low, and the weight of the growing baby is placing a lot of pressure on it.”

He pats her growing abdomen gently . “Bed-rest is the best thing for you right now. Don’t worry – we’ll get this baby as close to term as we can. At only 20 weeks, its chance of survival would be very low if it was born now.“

“I know; thank you. My husband and i don’t want to lose this baby now!  We’ve been waiting so long!”


In another room is Mother B (I’ll call her Beth).

The young life in her womb is also only 20 weeks old. She too is tearful and anxious, waiting to see the obstetrician.

Dr T… walks in brusquely, holding her chart, and looks her over quickly. “How are you this morning Beth?”

Beth’s face is blotchy and red.  “Dr. T… Please understand. I can’t possibly keep this, this…”

‘Foetus’ Dr. Smith finishes for her.

 “Yes foetus. My life isn’t together.,” Beth continues.  “I can’t cope with a pregnancy. My parents won’t understand. They’d kick me out. And my boyfriend says he’s not ready to be a father,” she adds, hoping that the weight of objections will be enough to convince him.

Dr T looks again at Beth’s chart. “Terminations can be riskier in the second trimester.”

“I don’t need your fancy words! Just do it!”

(Note: 20 weeks is the age at which an abortion can presently be carried out in NZ with least restrictions and difficulty or risk. It is usually assumed that the baby does not feel pain at this age, although this point is being strongly contested.)


A baby?

A foetus?

A new life?

A lump of tissue?

What is the difference? You don’t need medical terminology to explain it.

The difference between a baby and a foetus is simply this:

Being Wanted. 

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