Spina bifida ‘not a death sentence’, says mum after in-womb surgery

Another baby has had pioneering in-womb spina bifida surgery in the UK.

Bethan and Kieron Simpson found out their baby girl had the condition at a routine scan.

The couple were offered an abortion, but refused, opting for surgery.

Offered abortion

The Simpsons, from Essex, were alerted to an issue with their baby’s head during the 20 week scan.

After being sent to London for further scans of the head and spine, Bethan said it was then “we were told that our little girl had spina bifida”.

“We were offered continuing pregnancy, ending pregnancy or a new option called foetal surgery”.

‘No death sentence’

Bethan said: “Sadly 80 per cent of babies in England are terminated when their parents get told their baby has this condition”.

“It’s not a death sentence. She has the same potential as every one of us”, she added.

“She’s extra special, she’s part of history and our daughter has shown just how much she deserves this life.”

Abortions until birth

Spina bifida is a condition whereby the spinal cord does not develop properly, affecting between 700 and 900 pregnancies each year.

It can result in walking difficulties or paralysis, but is often much less serious.

Under legislation for England, Wales and Scotland, babies affected by spina bifida can be aborted up to birth.

Babies in Northern Ireland are protected, but pressure is being brought by abortionists and some politicians for those protections to be removed.


The delicate operation uses a series of tiny stitches to close the opening in the baby’s spine through the mother’s womb.

Until now, the operation has mostly been conducted in Belgium, but is now possible in the UK.

Bethan was successfully operated on at 24 weeks by surgeons from University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital alongside Belgian colleagues. The baby girl is due to be born in April.

Related Resources