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[Perspectives] Flawed hero

In the early 1960s, expectant mothers who had been exposed to rubella in early pregnancy faced an agonising decision: let nature run its course and take the risk that their baby might be born with severe congenital abnormalities, or seek an abortion. This Hobsonian choice was not made any easier by the fact that in 1962 there was no reliable diagnostic test for rubella or that the symptoms were easy to miss. As one woman wrote to The Guardian after opting for termination in 1963, “I felt a deep elemental repugnance for what I was doing…[but] felt I had no choice”.