Belinda’s BabyDocumentary | 1998 | ABC
Belinda Wardlaw-Jones is one of the few women in Australia to be born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, an incurable muscle-wasting disease which can drastically reduce life expectancy. Despite her condition and against the advice of many, she and her husband Andrew decide to have a child.
In this confronting documentary, Belinda and Andrew share their hopes and fears as they prepare for and experience parenthood in the face of sever disability. Belinda defends her decision to proceed with this pregnancy, believing it to be her right to become a mother, whatever the medical risks and ultimate social costs may be.
Belinda’s pregnancy compounds her disability and she is forced to have up work. As personal finances wither away, government funding is sought. After nerve-wracking delays, some funding is granted. However it brings a host of new complications: a constant stream of managers, bureaucrats and carers resulting in an acute lack of privacy and loss of control over their lives. When Belinda gives birth she makes Australian medical history. Not only has she outlived her life expectancy by her 17 years, she has created new life. This powerful documentary looks at fundamental issues of medical ethics, welfare priorities and human rights from a frontline perspective. It is ultimately a story of struggle, courage and survival.
The film was shot over 18 months and presents a “warts and all” account of two battlers. At the start of filming, no-one could predict the emotional rollercoaster ride that Belinda and Andrew would experience.