The blog of photographer Kim Ayres


Her first pregnancy came to an abrupt end when she was informed the foetus had Down’s Syndrome. Along with 92% of all women faced with her situation, she terminated.

During her second pregnancy she took up the offer to be part of a new experimental test, which to her surprise and dismay determined her foetus had an extremely high chance of turning out to be autistic. Once all the medical data had been logged, she was relieved all the assistance was in place to allow the abortion within 48 hours.

In her third pregnancy, the controversial “gay gene” was discovered. She knew in her heart that she wished to grow old not just with her children, but with her grandchildren in her life, so despite protests from high profile pop stars in the national press, she took her case through the courts and brought her physical condition to an early conclusion.

Her fourth pregnancy ceased as soon as she realised the dates matched up to a brief indiscretion she’d had with a man of a different racial make up. There was no way she could risk the shame of discovery.

Tests during her fifth pregnancy showed that the foetus would have a propensity to obesity. Because of her own struggles with dieting and body image it was inconceivable she would put any child of hers at such disadvantage from the outset. A swift termination followed.

Over the years her partner was extraordinarily patient and supportive, but with all these failed pregnancies she felt she was letting him down. She knew more than anything he wanted a son to play ball with, take on hunting expeditions and inherit the family business. When she discovered her sixth foetus was female, she aborted without informing her husband, so as not to burden him.

Finally, her seventh pregnancy produced a healthy blue-eyed boy. He had his father’s brow and his mother’s smile and was perfect in every way.

Years later, as her son languished in prison, she wished there’d been a test for a tendency towards predatory paedophilia back when she was pregnant.


Jayne Martin said...

That is really quite powerful and, as always, beautifully written.

chachu said...

Beautiful post.

Cheche Chavez

gleaner said...

And if there was a test for it after he was born then he probably may not be sitting in jail because of his ability to use genetics as his defence, which is something the court systems are using more and more...scary stuff!

hope said...

A point strongly made...and one which should've seen the light of day earlier, IMHO. Nice work!

Aoife.Troxel said...

Very striking. And sad too.
It is reminiscent of the poem "First They Came..." by Martin Niemoller, I think.

Like a sequence of events that lead up to a final event, that somehow both summarises all the events and is worse than all the events, but that could have been averted by changing one of the previous events.

Respectfully Yours said...

I wonder what would happened if there was a test to show us how hard raising teenagers would be. No one would have kids...glad you decided to pull this one out...thanks.

Ron said...

One of the most effective short stories I've ever read in my life Kim. Especially so since you are pro choice (as I am), your short story presents a powerful argument against abortion.

While I personally do not believe in abortion (the mere thought of aborting a new life is hard for me to comprehend), I also believe that a woman has the right to chose. I believe as you do that the answer to the abortion question is education, not criminalization.

Thank you for writing and sharing your powerful story. I am privileged to know you.

LegalMist said...

Good stuff.

I agree with you that abortion should be a choice, but pregnancy is not like shopping at the supermarket. You don't get to choose your brand, color, style. If you have to terminate for health or emotional or even if you want to terminate the pregnancy because you feel you are not ready to be a mom or to be pregnant at all ("I'm just not ready to have a baby"), that's one thing - I agree we shouldn't force people to have babies if they do not want to give over their body for nine months plus recovery time in the service of having a baby.

But to actively seek to end a pregnancy, when you want a child, merely because the baby isn't exactly what you were shopping for is horrific. Reminds me of the Nazis and their eugenics. Ugh.

Goes right along with our society's tendency to pathologize everything - or, as you put it, to see slight differences as "other." Scared of spiders? You used to be normal. Now you're arachnophobic. Like to keep your hands excessively clean? You used to be a neatnik, now you're OCD. Like to run around a lot and hate to sit still in school? You used to be a normal kid, now you're ADHD.

(And I'm not saying these problems don't exist - just that we've come down the slippery slope so far that even minor differences are deemed "abnormal." Why not just accept that people have different strengths and weaknesses?)

OK, I'll get off my soapbox now. It is, after all, your blog, not mine!

Thanks for sharing the story. I think it's right on.

A Daft Scots Lass said...

A perfectly written, touching story. Thanx for sharing.

Kim Ayres said...

Jayne - thank you :)

Cheche - thank you :)

Gleaner - I'm afraid I don't know that much about the US legal system, other than the OJ Simpson trial

Hope - thank you

Aoife - isn't that so true of so much of life?

Respectfully Yours - that's possibly one of the most accurate and powerful things I've read - I'll be using that one - thank you :)

Ron - thank you for such warm words :)

LegalMist - we live in a consumer society where we are constantly bombarded with the idea we should have the best, the most up to date, the most admired items, lifestyles and accessories. Every day we are hit by hundreds, even thousands of highly sophisticated marketing techniques undermining our self confidence and promising to make us feel better if we have what we are told is the best. Is it any wonder that these ideas should seep into people's perception of how their children should be? The difference between how life is presented to us and how it actually is, is vast, and this certainly contributes to the problem

Gillian - thank you :)

Anonymous said...

Phew.... great point, well made.

Jennifer said...

Kim, - I was single at the time of my conception of my child. There is much I could discuss of, now is not the time. I am so thankful I have my BEAUTIFUL piece of sunshine. This subject is VERY personal for me...I am thankful I did not listen to those that would have had me consider the option of TERMINATION.

Cannwin said...

I'm sitting here nursing my 3 month old. shes fallen asleep curled in my arms and a smile spreads across her face.

I don't think your post was in your face at all. The reality of it is that most abortions are performed for selfish reasons. That is wrong, terribly wrong.

Recently a friend of mine told me of how she had tried to convince a woman to carry through with a pregnancy. The woman had become pregnant and the father had left. She was thinking strongly about giving the baby up for adoption until she met a new guy and decided she wanted to have a relationship with him so she aborted.

My friend was in shock, she was in tears, when she told me about it her face was white with anger. She can't have children, she has done everything to get them, her and her husband have spent large sums of money to have a child and this woman cast her own off without thought.

I think the statistics are horrible. If I could I would take every one of those almost children and raise them myself.

Bravo to you for being in the minority! Bravo to you for speaking out. More people should.

Kim Ayres said...

Starrlife - thank you :)

Jennifer - once the life is there in our arms, it becomes inconceivable we could have wanted otherwise

Cannwin - yes the statistics are horrifying. And while researching the figures on this I discovered that in the UK, 22% of all pregnancies are aborted, regardless of any complications, which is much higher than I'd realised.

Tom P. said...

There was an episode of "Touched by an Angel"...

A couple finds out that there child will have Down syndrome. They are sitting in a coffee shop together discussing what they should do. The husband wants her to abort. "I don't want a disabled child. I want a strong son like that boy," he says, pointing to a boy wearing a football letter jersey who has just walked in. The boy then pulls out a gun to stick up the diner and in the ensuing confusion shoots the wife.

Mimi and Tilly said...

I don't think this post is "in your face" at all. I think it's powerful but bang on. People are all different but equal. We need to stop seeing the label, and instead see the person.

Anonymous said...

This is certainly "in your face" but I don't know that you should have held it off the site in the past.

Not that I know better than your wife ;)

I wrote a science fiction piece that has a little to do with the issue you've raised here and in the companion post.

If you ever have the time, and desire, it's on my blog under "SF" and it's called "Samuel".

Nice writing, Kim. As always.

Unknown said...

I can't imagine her getting away with that selective breeding crap here in America! I had no idea there was a gay gene test.. She is a SNOB! This is just a work of fiction.. right????

Charlie said...

I would categorize your story as horror rather than Sci-Fi because you've described the ultimate female monster.

Kim Ayres said...

Tom P. - nice :)

Mimi & Tilly - my thoughts precisely :)

Sang - it's a wonderful piece of writing :)

Lorraine - I think, if you look into it, there's more chance of it happening in the USA than practically anywhere else in the world. However, yes, it is a work of fiction - an idea of what might happen if we continue to follow unreal ideas of perfection and expectation

Charlie - the problem is, Charlie, part of me feels it's not so far fetched :(

Falak said...

That is a very thought provoking and beautifully written story..... If only most of us would learn to accept the gift given to us rather than analysing the pros and cons.
Thanks for sharing it with us.

Unknown said...

wow. Just incredible.

snoble24 said...

um if you have an abortion that many times its pretty unlikly that youll be able to really give birth to a baby. but this was still good

Pat said...

Powerful and to the point.

jen said...

I read this post when you first wrote it and it has been eating away at me since. My mother once told me that if abortion were legal (it wasn't in 1968 in the US), I wouldn't be here. When I was pregnant for my daughter, I was told that she would have Down's and what did I want to do. I was scared, but there was no question. It turned out the test had given us a false positive anyway.

Now onto the children I work with now. These children are far beyond a child with Down's. They are labeled "Severe and profound" as they have no ability to communicate and in most cases do not even have mobility. Several eat through feeding tubes. I have heard many comments on how they should have just been "let go" at birth or before. Who the hell are 'they' to decide who lives and who doesn't. The children I work with bring pure joy to many lives. They are the most pure, innocent, true beings I have ever known. I love your story and I love your views and I love your writing.

Thanks for putting it out there!

Stephanie Ann said...

Exquisite. Nothing else need be said.

Kim Ayres said...

Falak - thank you :)

Sarah - thank you :)

Snoble24 - it's a work of fiction to make a point :)

Pat - thank you :)

Jen - apparently the medical profession recommended my mother should have aborted my younger sister. That's always stayed with me.

Stephanie Ann - thank you :)

Hindsfeet said...

I've never seen words that plunged so deeply into the bullseye of the reader's mind. A leveling blow to our two dimensional idea of perfection. Well done my friend.

WheresMyAngels said...

Well I know this story wasn't written about me! lol I'm the woman that had to keep signing papers that I refused testing, even with all my pesky chromosome issues.

Great story!

Jo said...

thx for posting this, I'm about to go on Radio tomorrow to talk about Down's syndrome and one thing is for sure there are no tests that can guarantee anything in life but I know that I've not heard of any children with DS grow up to be bank robbers, paedofiles or mugging people

I think this poem sums this up

I would never be without my daughter with DS she has bought so much in my life and continues to do so every day

Colette said...

This is just what I needed after a horrible day yesterday with 'the stares'. Admittedly these days are rare and usually I can just ignore it or give these
people the benefit of the doubt. I think beacause most of them were other kids it made it a bit harsher to deal with. So instead of licking my wounds I decided to use the good old www to find some inspiration and I am so glad I found this blog. What I didn't need was soppy retoric so thank you for being 'in everyones faces'!

Kim Ayres said...

Colette - welcome to my ramblings and thank you for taking the time to comment. I can't remember the last time I noticed the stares, but then we live in a small town and I think everyone knows my daughter anyway. Certainly when I walk down the street with her, far more people say hello to her than to me :)

Unknown said...

Wow! That is a powerful and alarming post. I know that often people terminate pregnancies when they discover DS in the fetus. I can only say more's the pity for them. They never learn the true joy of having a child who truly accomplishes things, and at their own pace and in their own time, not on a schedule like "typical" kids. My daughter is 38 and is a joy! She graduated high school (beginning school in a Head Start program - which we had to fight for - because when she was born there was no law demanding education for kids with special needs - oh, yes, back when those with DS were called "mongoloids"), has worked at a variety of paid and volunteer jobs, participates in Special Olympics and Best Buddies and many other things. I am a member of both our local DS association and D.A.D.S. (Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome), and the whole family is so much richer because of this DS connection.
Cheers to you for your courage in publishing this blog, and keep up the good (though hard, I'm sure) work!
Joe Rinaldo

Kim Ayres said...

Joe - thank you for taking the time to visit and comment.

Although my daughter has DS, I don't have a huge number of posts about the condition, mainly because it's not a huge part of our lives - Meg is Meg, and msot of the time we don't think about it.

Every now and then, however, I get passionate about a particular point and need to write something about it. In this case it was a rare piece of fiction. I felt creating a short story could illustrate the point far better than just a rant :)

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