It’s the great moral divide of our age. Here one doctor explains why she’s so passionate about persuading her patients NOT to have abortions.
Arms folded protectively around her chest, the thirty-something in her smart business suit was tearful but adamant.
"I can’t have this baby," she said, hands twisting nervously in her lap. "I just can’t. I’m not ready for it. It would ruin my career, and my relationship. I just can’t cope."
Across from her, Dr Tammie Downes leaned forward and gently posed the questions she had asked so many other women in the same position.
"What would have to change to make you see things differently? What would help you to see this baby as good news and not bad news?"
They are simple questions, but for the distressed patient they were to make a life-changing difference. Prompted to think about what she was actually frightened of, she broke down in tears and confessed to a fear of losing the successful career and lifestyle she had worked so hard to build.
It was a cathartic moment, and one that led her to a profound reassessment.
"As soon as the words were uttered," says Dr Downes, "she found herself thinking ‘does my job really matter more than my unborn baby? Can’t I find a way of having both?’."
Instead of the abortion she had been so determined to have, the young woman gave birth seven months later to a baby boy.
"I saw her shortly after she gave birth and she was delighted. She adores her little boy.
…Over the years, she believes, thanks to her prompting, around one in three women she has treated have been able to change their mind.
This does, of course, leave many others who press ahead with their terminations, and as their GP, Dr Downes often bears witness to the sometimes unexpected emotional aftermath.
She remembers one patient, an 18-year-old hairdresser with an unreliable boyfriend, who came in determined to terminate her unborn child.
"She said: ‘I don’t want this.’ She was adamant, as I recall.
"I talked to her, asked her again what would have to change for her to feel differently. She said she had hoped to be older when she had her first baby, and for her relationship to be more stable."
Unable to shake off her fears, the girl went ahead with her abortion, but her story has a surprising twist. Only five months later, she came back and revealed she was pregnant once more. This time, however, she wanted to keep her baby.
"She told me the decision to have an abortion was the worst one she had ever made and she was desperate to make amends," Dr Downes recalls.
…Then there was the Asian family, a couple who already had three children under five and were shocked to find another on the way.
"They were sure they couldn’t cope. They kept saying their family was ‘complete’.
"Again, I asked them to think about things in a different way. What is a complete family? Doesn’t every child complete a family? I asked them to spend some time just talking together.
As they say read the whole thing. Rarely do you see an article like this, especially one that doesn’t search out to add the pro-abortion spin.