Josie Cunningham abortion U-turn: Feeling baby's first kick and unborn baby pictures changed her mind

(Photo: Hajnalka Arda)

Josie Cunningham, glamour model who announced her plans to abort her baby for the sake of an appearance on reality show Big Brother, has since reversed her decision after she felt the baby kick for the first time.

Ms Cunningham, who is a 23 year old mother of two, previously rose to notoriety when she received a £4,800 breast enlargement surgery on the NHS.

When her comments about her plans for an abortion were shared in the Sunday Mirror, a social media backlash began against her.

At the time of the initial revealing of her pregnancy, Ms Cunningham said: "I'm finally on the verge of becoming famous and I'm not going to ruin it now."

"An abortion will further my career. This time next year I won't have a baby. Instead, I'll be famous, driving a bright pink Range Rover and buying a big house. Nothing will get in my way."

Some Twitter comments were more reasoned, with one saying: "Any Doctor who signs an abortion form for @JosieCOnline should be prosecuted as this is a clear breach of the law."

Others were far more hateful, with comments about how Ms Cunningham "should be shot", acid attacked or run down by a lorry.

One abusive tweeter said to her: "Shame your parents didn't abort you."

Ms Cunningham ignored much of this, but has apparently been moved by pictures of the reality of abortion performed close to the 24 week limit: "They looked like fully formed babies and I read there have been 66 cases where aborted fetuses have come out alive because their mothers left the decision so late. I lay in bed and sobbed. Doubts crept in."

She described how very obsessed she had become with the idea of being famous, and how she didn't care whether it was for positive or negative reasons.

"I kept telling myself I must be doing ­something right because at least everyone knew my name. I had 13,000 Twitter followers overnight – I didn't care if they hated me. I've been hated all my life by bullies at school and then by the public over my boob job. People are going to hate me, so at least I was getting famous in the process."

Speaking to the Mirror last weekend about her change of heart, Ms Cunningham said: "I really thought I would be able to but I couldn't. I'd felt the baby kick for the first time 24 hours earlier and I couldn't get that feeling out of my head.

"I'd forgotten what the feeling was like. It was magical. It was like the baby was telling me not to go through with it.

"I was in the taxi driving to the clinic and felt physically sick. I was shaking. When the driver told me we were a minute away I burst into tears. I wanted to throw myself out of the moving car to get away. I had my hands on my bump and I had the strongest feeling I couldn't let anyone take my baby away."

Pro-life groups have responded very positively to Ms Cunningham's change of heart, and have used the case to demonstrate what they believe to be the culture of abortion on demand.

Andrea Williams, of Christian Concern, said she was "delighted to read in the media that Josie has decided to keep her baby having really thought about the life she is carrying inside her".

She suggested Ms Cunningham was in fact a victim of "the society created around her over the past 30 years".

"It has become the expectation among young mothers-to-be that they can have abortions on demand. It has become a 'rights' issue which allows the woman's interests to supersede her unborn baby," she said.

"So it's rather hypocritical to attack Josie for behaving as she has been conditioned to think, and to consider abortion as a reasonable option for dealing with the trauma of an unwanted pregnancy."

Current UK abortion law requires two doctors to agree that the continuing a pregnancy would result in more mental or physical harm to the mother than an abortion.

However, Ms Williams said the protections have been "destroyed by a powerful so-called 'pro-choice' lobby which has shouted down the evidence of substantial mental and physical health risks, to which women who have induced abortions are exposed".

Grace Mason, director of the UK pro-life charity United for Life, said part of the problem was the lack of education women receive about the unborn baby.

"Women are not told about the development of the unborn. They are not told that the heart starts beating three weeks after conception, even if it is just a rudimentary tube," she said.

"They are not told that a baby or embryo is fully formed with all its organs at eight weeks and s/he then becomes a fetus, where all the baby needs do is grow and mature.

"She is not told that at this early age the baby is already moving, has fingerprints and toe prints, and can feel pain. But because they are so small they are seen as dispensable.

"So thousands of women will kill their child by abortion at this early stage and hope that nobody finds out what they have done. Their life can then continue as before they became pregnant, but in reality it doesn't."

In the Guardian, commentator Martin Robbins suggests the attacks against Ms Cunningham's original decision were less to do with pro-life sentiment, and more an expression of elitism.

"[Ms Cunningham's] actions are no different from those of thousands of women who exercise their reproductive rights in order to make informed choices about their future careers and families," he said.  

"Yet because she uses the wrong language, because she talks 'common', and wants to be on Big Brother instead of working in a call centre, she has been subjected to a torrent of vile abuse and bullying."

Polling data consistantly shows that more women than men support increased restrictions on abortion.

In 2011, a YouGov poll found that 28 per cent of men and 46 per cent of women support a reduction in the number of weeks of gestation permitted before a woman can legally have an abortion. In 2012, that view was held by 24 per cent of men and 49 per cent of women.

When data from other polling companies such as Angus Reid and ICM are included, the divide remains consistant with between 24 to 35 per cent of men supporting more restrictive abortion laws, compared to 43 to 59 per cent of women.

Ms Cunningham expressed deep regret about her original decision, saying: "I lost control and I wanted to be famous so badly I lost sight of what matters.

"I'm disgusted with myself and I'm sorry – not to the haters but to the child I'm going to have. Now I've made this decision I am determined to be a good mother just like I am to my other children."

She is expecting to be giving birth in early October.

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