Parents choose life for son, rejecting abortion advice

A couple have shared the incredible story of how they rejected abortion and chose life for their son, after he was diagnosed with spina bifida.

At 20 weeks of pregnancy, Catherine and Paul Harper were told that their son Benjamin was unlikely to be able to walk, and may be born with his head deformed to twice its normal size.

Catherine said: “Does that change how much we’re going to love him? No.”

Choose life

Catherine and Paul, from New Zealand, refused to have an abortion and Benjamin was born after doctors carried out ground-breaking spinal surgery in the womb.

The surgery had never before been carried out on a baby from New Zealand.

Crucially, it could not be done after 25 weeks of pregnancy.


After using social media to contact medical experts in Australia, Catherine launched a successful fundraising campaign to cover the travel costs.

On 24 December, doctors at Mater Hospital in Brisbane were given the all-clear to perform the surgery.

At 24 weeks of pregnancy and whilst Benjamin was still in the womb, doctors carried out the surgery to stitch up the opening on his back.

He was born on 1 March after 33 weeks of pregnancy.


Benjamin has undergone several surgeries since then, including one to drain fluid from his brain.

Catherine said that she now uses her story to encourage prospective mothers to choose life.

She hopes that as more mothers choose life for babies with spina bifida, more medical breakthroughs will be possible.

For other stories of families who chose life, visit

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