Angela wrote to the Prime Minister to show her support for Susan Forshaw and her son Andrew and tell their heartbreaking story.
On 4th May, 1970, when Susan was 20 years old, her mother took her to the doctors as she suspected she was pregnant.
The doctor gave her two tablets with no explanation as to what they were – one to take straight away and one to take the following day. She was told that if she didn’t start her period, that meant she was pregnant.
Eight months later, her son Andrew was born. From birth, Andrew suffered from regular fits but Susan was told he was simply retarded and nothing could be done for him. She was given no help and had no one to lean on for support.
Caring for Andrew was difficult as he was – in Susan’s words – very fractious and never slept. She says she couldn’t take Andrew to family gatherings on special occasions like weddings, birthdays and Christmas as his behaviour was so disruptive and holidays were an impossibility.
In March 2016, when Andrew was 45 years old, Susan was watching the news and heard about Primodos for the first time. She phoned her doctor and asked him to check her records and it was confirmed to her that she had been given Primodos in 1970.
In November 2017, the UK’s Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) published its report on the use of hormone pregnancy tests and adverse effects. The CHM said the evidence did not support a causal link between the use of HPTs, such as Primodos, during early pregnancy, and adverse outcomes of pregnancy regarding either miscarriage, stillbirth or congenital abnormalities.
Angela said: “I was disappointed at that decision, campaign groups called it a whitewash, an injustice and a betrayal. I believe it is clear from the reaction to that report that real anger remains about the way in which the affected families have been treated.”
Research uncovered in the Berlin National Archives and studies by several independent scientists produced comprehensive evidence that categorically concluded that a link exists.
Campaign group Association for Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests welcomed the news and said that while it wouldn’t right any previous wrongs, it would give those affected some answers.
Susan said: “After all these years of heartache and pain with no answers and no explanation, I felt like a train had hit me. I was devastated that my only child should have and would have been born normal if not for those two little pills. Pills that were never tested and pills that were never explained to me. Our lives could have been so different.
“I know everyone worries about their children, but to have a severely disabled child gives you a constant feeling of anxiety. My son will be 48 in January. He was born with a small head (micro cephalic), severe epilepsy and impaired sight. He can’t talk and he is still in nappies. He cannot feed himself and he has no sense of danger. He needs round the clock care.”
Andrew’s needs are so complex that he now lives in a care home in Skelmersdale. He comes home to see Susan once a week. The family have been told that Andrew’s care home is under threat of closure and this is causing more undue stress.
Angela said: “It is not right that parents like Susan have had to go through life suffering and not knowing why their children were born with abnormalities and disabilities that could have been prevented.
“They may have some of the answers they have been looking for all their lives, but they don’t have justice. Their quest to unearth the truth was covered up for decades, which added to the stress and misery they were already enduring.”
Angela urged the Prime Minister to join her at an All-Party Parliamentary Group meeting to hear from eminent scientists, members of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review and professors that have taken part in studies linked to Primodos to give her a full understanding of the situation these families are facing and decide the best course of action to take to get justice for Susan and the thousands of other parents who have suffered like she has.