Archives For It’s So Personal

A reader writes:

Enough of the judgment from your readers: a well-considered decision to bring either an adopted or biological child into a family is a highly personal one, and the idea that it is well-considered is the important part.  I appreciated the candor of your reader who had 11 miscarriages; her perception that an adopted child may be more risky or difficult to parent may or may not be correct, but if it gives her pause or causes her to think deeply about why she wants to be a parent and what her coping skills realistically are, that is a good thing.  It is far better than someone whose romanticized view of adoption – as a selfless act that is all about giving a child a family, not giving a family a child – leads them into a situation they cannot cope with.

Sometimes, perhaps a decision to hold out for a same-race child may signal that a person has gotten in touch with some hard truths about themselves and is simply being honest about what they think they are equipped for.  I am not sure they should be made to justify the decision or cover it up with a lie.

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It’s So Personal … On MTV

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 2 2011 @ 5:27pm

by Zoë Pollock

Lynn Harris praises MTV's 30-minute interview special on abortion, "No Easy Decision":

Seriously, they nailed it. And by "nailed it," I don't mean they just did a great PSA for abortion. I mean they told the many-sided truth: that abortion is safe and common, that abortion has been made difficult to get, and, most importantly, that abortion is a complex decision made by complex human beings. (That thump you heard around 11:35 p.m. EST was the sound of 100 feminist media critics falling off our collective couches.)

(Perhaps the best posts this year were penned by readers, and the most illuminating, gripping and emotional posts were related to late-term abortion, in the wake of the assassination of the abortion doctor George Tiller. I've never seen the power of this medium so clearly and up-close: one personal account caused a stream of others. How could old-school reporting have found all these women? How could any third-person account compete with the rawness and honesty and pain of these testimonials?

It was a revelation to me about what this medium could do. Like the Iranian revolution that followed this post, it made 2009 a very special year for this blog. – Andrew)

Many readers have asked us to compile the various late term abortion testimonials we published this week (which are only a fraction of the ones we've received). Here they are, in chronological order:

Fetus It's So Personal
It's So Personal, Ctd
The Catholic Mother
The Trauma
A Doctor's View (reader reaction)
A Target Of Terror
The Regret
Not Knowing For Sure
When Principle Meets Reality
Serial Abortions (reader reaction)
Preparing For The Worst
An Unforgiving Family (reader reaction)
The Guilt
Holding On
The Gay Fathers
What Guilt?
Ectopic "Miscarriage"

Still more to come. (And maybe a bound collection? We're actively thinking of it, prompted by many reader requests. But this should be a useful link for now.)

It’s So Personal

Andrew Sullivan —  Sep 6 2009 @ 8:14am

by Patrick Appel

This video of a couple who choose to take their son to term despite his being diagnosed with a terminal illness in the womb is heart-breaking. It's hard to get through without bawling.

Our series on late-term abortion and the terrible choices some families are forced to make is here.

(Hat tip: Dreher)

A reader writes:

Last January, at the age of 41, I conceived my first child, a child I have wanted all my life. At 22 weeks into the pregnancy, my partner and I went for a routine ultrasound at a clinic in Overland Park, Kansas, near our home in Lawrence. We and all the expectant Davinci grandparents were eager to find out the baby’s gender. Before the appointment, my mother wrote a quick email: “What time is your ultrasound? I'm excited!! Let me know what gender my "Grand" is! Love, Mum.xoxoxoxo”

Our appointment began jovially. The perinatologist and nurse joked about names, and at one point, the doctor called the baby a “little rascal.” As the ultrasound continued, the room grew quiet. The perinatologist scanned the baby’s head again and again. He finally announced, in a solemn voice, “I’m seeing some things in the baby’s brain that concern me.” Time stopped, and everything in the universe shifted. Holding my partner’s hand, I struggled to listen despite the thick blanket of grief that settled over the room.

The doctor continued, “The baby has holoprosencephaly. It’s a brain malformation in which the forebrain fails to divide. Most of these babies die before term. Those that are born have severe disabilities.” He finally took a deep sigh and started to deliver the especially delicate part: “I don’t know what your beliefs are but some people would terminate a pregnancy of this nature. Since you are 22 weeks along, you would have to go to Wichita for the procedure.” Everyone in the room knew this was shorthand for, “You would have to see George Tiller, the infamous late-term abortion doctor. No one else will help you at this point.” Numb, I asked to know the baby’s gender. He placed the ultrasound wand back on my stomach and read the grainy image: “It’s a girl.” We walked out of the clinic with blank stares and wept in the car.

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A reader writes:

My wife has Marfan Syndrome, a condition that (among other things) leaves people susceptible to sudden dilation or aneurysm of the aorta. It weakens the walls of the aorta with no symptoms, followed sometimes by catastrophic tearing.  When it tears, there's an 80% of death – 65% en Davinciroute to the hospital, 15% at the hospital – and only 20% survive through aortic graft surgery.  Pregnancy greatly exacerbates that risk.

We knew about the dangers during my wife's first pregnancy, so she had repeated measurements of the aorta.  It got a little bigger, but never to the danger zone. Our daughter was delivered by C-section without serious complications.  Once the aorta gets bigger, however, it never gets smaller, so the pregnancy left my wife on the precipice of serious medical catastrophe. 

A few years later came the second pregnancy.  Her OB/GYN sent her to a Marfan specialist at Johns Hopkins.  He treated us like we were murderers – or rather, treated her like she was a slow-motion suicide.  He insisted on an immediate abortion.  He plied us with his recently published study demonstrating that all of his previously pregnant Marfan patients died during the second pregnancy.  And he pointed out that all the women in his study were at least 5 to 10 years younger than my wife at the time.

We decided to proceed instead with the help of an OB/GYN who specialized in dangerous and difficult pregnancies, fighting to make them safe and successful.

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A reader writes:

While I've always considered myself a pro-life conservative, I do admit to having mixed feelings about abortion.  I've been following your series on late-term abortion for the past several days, and I thought I'd pass on our story.

About 5 years ago, after a lot of effort, my wife got pregnant with our second child. We did the regular genetic screening (I can't recall the name of the test, but it was just a simple blood test). It  Davinci came back positive for Down's Syndrome, but only at a slightly higher risk. Our OB/Gyn said the odds for someone my wife's age (27) to have a Down's baby were about 1 in 10,000. The positive test result put the odds closer to 1 in 150. He recommended we go to a doctor who specialized in high-risk pregnancies to confirm there was no problem. She was 5 months along at the time.

During the additional testing, we had an ultrasound done with an amazingly high-tech machine. During the scan we kept asking the tech if she saw anything, but she kept telling us she wasn't legally allowed to say one way or the other. We sat quietly until the end of the test, at which point the tech turned to us and said, "Well, I'm going to be honest with you, because it's the only way I know how to be. I see some problems with the head."

I could hear my wife's breathing quicken, and my hands started to shake uncontrollably. The doctor came in and said he saw holoprosencephaly, which, as we learned, essentially means that the brain did not divide into two hemispheres. In fact, although we were 19 weeks along, the brain had stopped developing at 11 weeks.

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