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My son Landon was two days post op his first of two neurosurgery operations the day I had a positive pregnancy test last December. To say we weren’t trying would be untrue, but we were very surprised to learn of a new pregnancy given the current events. Landon had been in and out of the hospital for two months and faced a horrendous medical saga. Excitement grew for the pregnancy: two August kiddos we would have.
I had my first trimester screening bloodwork done. I was growing anxious for results to return, it had been a little over a week. Something inside was whispering to me it wasn’t going to be reassuring. Sure enough, my gut was correct, I received that dreaded phone call from my OBGYN and good friend. High risk trisomy 18 and 91% this was an accurate result. As an OBGYN, I’m quite familiar with the profound impact of this news: a child with severe developmental delays and birth defects, unlikely to survive past first birthday and highly likely to die in utero. Two days later, I had a chorionic villi sampling done by my dear friend and former mentor, a perinatologist. Ultrasound findings confirmed the suspected diagnosis and the placenta biopsy returning 2 days later left zero doubt. From the moment my friend shared the words trisomy 18 with me, I knew what road my husband Carter and I would choose if the diagnosis was confirmed. Like most couples, we’ve gone over these what ifs scenarios. At the end of that long week I had a D&C at 12 weeks of a fetus that had a beating heart and a very bleak future. It was the right decision for me and my husband and I have zero regrets.
Though I owe no one an explanation as to why I made this decision, I’ll divulge because that’s who I am (and now that our country has made it a point to invade my privacy, I’ll respond with saying I’ve got nothing to hide from you judgmental stone throwers). My husband and I had a unified opinion that we would not find any joy in raising a child that would certainly die. In fact, it would bring us severe distress. A baby that would need constant medical care well beyond that of a healthy baby. After witnessing medical trauma with our son who went from Covid with ear infection and ended up with two brain surgeries, this was frankly an easy decision. I identify as Christian and I don’t need to explain to anyone else my relationship with God and why I feel this was still a very straightforward decision. My religion and relationship with my God are also in fact, none of anyone’s business. If we want to argue the disgust that is USA Christianity, then I suppose someone should explain where love thy neighbor (get your vaccine to protect the vulnerable, reduce poverty, prevent wars, etc.) got lost?
My abortion story perhaps gains more empathy than some, as it was associated with an abnormal pregnancy. However, any pregnancy that isn’t welcomed/desired for whatever reason are really all the same. No one other than the mom and dad of a pregnancy are truly responsible for the weight and stress of child rearing. A few reasons people get abortions: failed contraception, poor access/financial barriers to contraception, sexual assault, fetal abnormalities, financially/mentally/socially unable to child rear, unsupportive/abusive partner, never wanted kids, too young or old to desire. This is a short list. How privileged you must be if you’ve not found yourself on that list.
Adoptions are still of low interest for most especially outside of newborn age and the foster system is still overflowing with kids who need love and support. If you’d like to hear the horror stories of the foster system and what the children in the system have been through, I’ll get my sister on the line.
Carter often has more of a wide angle lens on these issues. As we discussed the subject, he offered a point of view I’d never really considered.
Sure there is a small percent of our country whose hill to die on is protecting these unborns fetuses. But really the majority of those in power/wealth just wants to perpetuate the large existence of the working poor. This is the population that suffers the most from making abortion illegal. Government employees, their wives, daughters, mistresses will still have access to safe abortions should they need them for whatever reason. Any affluent non government citizens as well. But if we make any societal moves that largely threaten the growing division of wealth in this country- now that is a real problem. Conservatives need the working class who work from paycheck to paycheck to exist and continue to prosper. To have their unplanned pregnancies on their state insurance so they have a disrupted young adulthood and never move up in society to the middle class, where they might actually have money for investments, etc. They don’t want them to have access to “the other side.” There’s the small percent that will rise up through athletic or academic talent, but the rest need to stay put on the rat race that is being the bottom 1/3. The huge irony is that these lower class citizens are the same ones who are most likely to buy into this “pro life” front. Sadly Carter is absolutely right.
How can a country say: we want to make contraception difficult to obtain, make health insurance difficult to obtain, limit sex education in schools, strip government assisted healthcare down to the absolute bare minimum, to stand for religious freedom but only actually support one AND oppose abortion. Further, we want to argue with others who decide to have an abortion as if we might be going into their homes and completely taking on the full essence and burden of parenting for them. MAKE IT MAKE SENSE.
I’m currently arguing with my insurance provider (Cigna, via the healthcare marketplace), regarding coverage of my anesthesia for my D&C, as it was labeled an elective abortion, which is not covered by any marketplace insurance in a red state (aka Tennessee). Love many things about Tennessee and government is not one of them. Guarantee some old white dude coined the term “elective abortion”. Could we not just call it an abortion, leave out the judgment bit? Isn’t it inherit when you are having surgery you are *electing* to do so and have discussed the risks and benefits of the procedure with your surgeon?
It’s true that those who identify as pro-life are quite selective in their areas of compassion. The unborn are such an easy group to shower with compassion (see quote by pastor Dave Barnhart). But really pro life is a lie. If people are truly pro life- shouldn’t they also be anti-war, anti-death penalty and pro policies that reduce homelessness, poverty, hunger, etc. But they aren’t. They are a wave of inconsistent judgement and distraction.
This is probably my most tangential blog yet. I told myself I would write a draft and try to make it more streamlined, but I just can’t. That’s how much rage I have for our country that is headed down a dark path. Where radical opinions and greed for power have become forefront. We are not on par with the rest of the modern world. We are so busy with what the 1% wants to argue that we’ve lost the tenets that are necessary for a flourishing society: public education, investment in youth, infrastructure, maintaining our planet, quality of life, health etc. Our politicians are all owned by corporations. Our lawmakers are passing policies for the general public that will never apply to them. This is a bleak path in a time where our country is desperate for unity, kindness and progress. I don’t know if we can get there. For those that believe this is unjust and turning back social progress immensely, I know we will fight so very hard.
Writing from my trisomy 18 pregnancy/termination:
Farewell my dear son who I’ll never meet. Your life was early marked for only defeat.
Our family continually learns that life’s simply unfair: your condition, always fatal and incredibly rare.
Though your heart beats and you’ve grown along, the ultrasound shows how many parts of you have gone wrong.
Some might decide to let you go on your time, but I can’t do that my child knowing you will never shine.
To carry you inside only awaiting your demise, or bring you earth side to watch you slowly die. Either option destroys me and that is certainly not wise.
Some will label me cruel names, claim this is black and white.
I wish they’d go quiet and put an end to this unjust fight.
For a mom’s choice for her womb is hers and hers alone.
A decision you can’t possibly imagine unless you’ve been there on your own.
How foolish to think your values affirming that you unequivocally wouldn’t, somehow equals I have no choice, under no circumstance shouldn’t.
There’s a place you will flourish my child, you’ll run, you’ll play and you’ll roam.
Last night God whispered “I love you, daughter, go ahead and bring this one home.”