It’s So Personal: Preparing For The Worst

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 2 2009 @ 5:23pm

A reader writes:

My third pregnancy resulted in the birth of twin girls – one with horribly deformed internal organs Davinci and the other normal.  I had chosen not to have testing done, because although I believed in the right to choose, I did not think I would ever choose abortion for myself.  The doctors wanted to do surgery on our daughter that held a 10% chance of survival and promised another decade of surgeries for a child whose disability would leave her blind, mute and severely mentally retarded.  We had to make the excruciating decision of whether to allow that course of events.  We chose to baptise and let her return to God.  We held her as she died three hours later.  Her sister, blessedly, survived after a 2 month stay in neo-natal intensive care.

The struggle and torment of burying and grieving for a child, and explaining to the three older siblings why we only brought home one baby, was an ongoing horror that lasted years.  It took a huge toll on our marriage for a long time.  The next time I got pregnant, I was terrified.  Your odds of having a child with birth defects goes up with age and previously affected children.  I did not want to be blindsided by another child dying in my arms.  I did not think my family would survive another experience like that intact.

I decided to have every test they offer this time.

I found out that I would get the amniocentisis results with only six days to decide and procure termination should I have another child with a life ending abnormality.  Six days.  If I struggled with indecision too long I would have to travel to Kansas.  Being unwilling to put my family through that situation again, I had the number of the clinic ready to make the appointment immediately if my amnio revealed another child doomed to suffer or die.  This time, thankfully, I had one healthy baby girl. 

What happened to Tiller is a crime.  What is also a criminal is that we already have a nation where women are forced into scenarios where all the choices are bad and made worse by the lack of freedom handed unequally to our gender in being able to access a doctor and determine what is right for our children and our families. This is Terry Schaivo territory.  If the Christianists ever succeed in completely outlawing abortion, women in my situation will be forced to watch our newborns gasp their last breath and grow cold in our arms.