“The doctors’ diagnosis was completely inaccurate”

Melanie and Damien Sheenan talk about the immense pressure they were put under to have an abortion in this week’s ‘Choose Life’ story.

The couple from Northern Ireland chose to keep baby Joshua – now nearly a year old and doing well – after doctors made what was eventually shown to be an incorrect diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality.

Devastated by the prognosis, they were then made to feel they were doing something “terribly wrong” by choosing life for their son.

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Profoundly disabled

At the 20 week scan the Sheenans were told that Joshua’s brain and spine had not formed.

In subsequent weeks, as they attended a specialist hospital in Sheffield for further scans, abortion was recommended.

“They didn’t even think his life would begin” says father Damien, “the doctors told us Joshua would be incompatible with life”.

Immense pressure

Melanie says: “They felt that the child wouldn’t survive birth,” says Melanie, and if it did it would be so profoundly disabled it would, in their words, ‘have no quality of life’.

“I was put under immense pressure to go ahead with an abortion.”

At appointments they would be introduced as ‘the couple who was continuing with the pregnancy against medical advice’.

Completely inaccurate

“We were made to feel we were doing something terribly wrong by wanting to keep our baby.”

But the diagnosis was “completely inaccurate” says Melanie.

She believes people have an unreal view of abortion and see it as a “quick fix” but she says “the actual reality of abortion is horrific.”


“I’d advise that no matter what, the baby should be given a chance,” she concludes.

“If we had gone with the doctors’ diagnosis he wouldn’t be here today and I’d be living with the fact that I’d had an abortion and all the effects that might have had on me.

“No matter what, carry on because it’s life and God still has a plan no matter what the outcome will be.”

Protections removed

As we announced last week, the Northern Ireland Department of Justice is recommending that abortions are allowed where the unborn child is deemed as being “incompatible with life”.

Views will also be sought on allowing abortion in the event of sexual crime.

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