Advance apologies – I’m going political on you. But long-time readers of this blog know that this topic hits very personally to me. I was listening to NPR the other day, and a story caught my attention. The story was about a just released documentary entitled, “After Tiller.” Created by pro-choice advocates (so I’m sure it has quite a lot of bias), the film attempts to communicate the reasons why doctors and clinics who perform late-term abortions make the decision to continue doing something that is so clearly fraught with danger. From what I understand (and I should note that I have NOT yet seen it), the film also looks at the people who get late-term abortions for both medical and non-medical reasons. The part that struck me was this statistic: Today there are only FOUR doctors in the US who perform late-term abortions. To get to them, it seems you often have to be pretty desperate.
Six years ago, my then husband and I were presented with an almost unthinkable “choice.” At 22 weeks, we needed to decide whether to consciously and deliberately end what was almost certainly a non-viable pregnancy or risk bringing a child into this world that had no reasonable shot at anything resembling a real life. I’ve already outlined the details of that decision and its aftermath, so I won’t get into the same level of detail here. But I beg you to put yourself in our shoes. Imagine this:
You have a happy and healthy first trimester. You’re nervous about becoming parents, but you’re filled with wonder and excitement that this life is growing inside you. YOU MADE THIS. And it is awesome.
And then, seemingly out of the blue, things start going south. At first, it’s like a rumor you hear in the background that you dismiss almost out of hand. Surely it’s nothing.
But it’s not nothing.
Then you think, well, I live in one of the most medically advanced cities in the world. They can fix this. They have the technology.
But they don’t.
Finally, you’re forced to face reality. The baby inside you that looks to your inexperienced eyes so very perfect probably won’t survive the pregnancy. And even if it does draw its first breath some day, it will not have a good life. It will barely have a life at all. Certainly not one outside the hospital.
You’re crushed, naturally. Then, to add insult to injury, in the midst of this devastation, while you’re trying to come to terms with this horrific, life-changing news, you are told you have to make a decision – end the pregnancy now or risk even more tragic consequences. That because of a “post-viability abortion restriction,” you can’t “wait and see” or “let nature take its course.” You need to make a decision, and you have about two days to make it. Because after that, the state will make the decision for you.
I would have given anything to have been able to let that baby die within my body naturally – something it likely would have done in two or three weeks. But for me, given medical circumstances for both the fetus and myself, that was no choice at all. With the hindsight of six years, I have no regrets about the decision that we made.
Given the circumstances, I know without a doubt it was the right one. But I resent that this law that was supposedly designed to protect life was the reason I couldn’t wait for it to end on its own. Three years ago, I outlined my views on late-term abortions, and as you can see, those views haven’t substantially changed.
I write this post with trepidation. I’ve seen the comments on the Here and Now story, and I’ve seen them on the blogs of others who have dared to written on this topic. I know my following is small so I should have little to worry about, and I hope that those that read this will take my final words below into consideration before they post.
I’m not completely naive. I don’t expect to change minds. I never expect to do so with a topic like this. But today, at this moment and regardless of your views, I’ll ask the same thing I asked of you then: Compassion and understanding.
As I said then, “I think the world can always benefit from a pause, a deep breath and a little extra consideration.”
Here’s the trailer to “After Tiller” :
Courtesy of Here and Now.