It’s So Personal: Monoamniotic Twins

Dustin Rowles, who wrote the Pajiba post mentioned by a reader in our earlier post on After Tiller, recently went through a harrowing ordeal with his wife after doctors determined she was pregnant with monoamniotic twins:

The doctor told us that if we went forward with the pregnancy, if one fetus died in utero it would probably leave the other baby severely brain damaged. He said if that happened, we could make a plan to go to one of two states in the country — Florida or Colorado — that still have individual Doctors providing late-term abortions. Kansas used to be an option, we were told, but the Doctor who conducted procedures to terminate the pregnancies of severely brain damaged and deformed babies with no chance of a decent quality of life had been shot and killed. Ain’t that America.

We decided to terminate. It was the most difficult, most agonizing decision either my wife or I had ever made. We both are pro-choice, but when it comes to abortion, in the typical scenario, you decide to terminate a pregnancy you don’t want. We had made a decision to terminate the potential lives of two babies that we did want. That we wanted very badly.

However, we felt that the risks were too high and that it would be irresponsible to risk not only our future but that of our son, who was four. We didn’t want him to have to grow up in a home with parents that had to devote all their emotional and financial resources to profoundly disabled siblings. More than that, we didn’t want to bring beings into the world that would have to spend a lifetime suffering, who might have a severely low quality of life.

The thing is, there was no one from whom we could solicit advice. There’s not even a lot of anecdotal information with which to work when you’re pregnant with monoamniotic twins. There is one major support page online, but there is a lot of self-selection in posters, and most of the people who write have had a positive outcome that has either confirmed or bolstered their religious convictions. Many of the posts make clear that termination was never an option — and/or should not be an option — for others in this situation, which we totally disagreed with. What we were aiming to do was make the right choice for us — a rational, logical decision that an objective couple in our situation would make. We were relatively young. We could still have more children. We could wait a few months or a couple of years and try again.

The more we thought about it, the more sense it made to end the pregnancy. We felt — and we still feel — that this is a fundamentally personal decision, and we were shocked at the politicization of this medical issue, when of course nobody else can tell you what is right for your family. It is a decision that has the potential to fundamentally alter the entire course of your life, and until you are personally faced with something like this, there is no way to know how you are going to react or what the right course of action will be.

Rowles and his wife subsequently changed their minds and opted to continue the pregnancy. Mercifully, though their twin girls were born premature, they both beat the odds and survived with no ill effects. You can read the rest of his story here. And to read all the late-term abortion stories from Dish readers, go here.