The final presidential debate of the election was this week, and for the first time, abortion was the topic Americans across the country were talking about the next day. Donald Trump provoked a furor when he called out Hillary Clinton for her extreme position on abortion.
“I think it’s terrible if you go with what Hillary is saying in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby,” Trump said. “Now, you can say that that’s okay and Hillary can say that that’s okay, but it’s not okay with me. Because based on what she is saying and based on where she is going and where she has been, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month on the final day. And that’s not acceptable.”
Hillary immediately responded by calling that a lie, and pro-abortion advocates in the media quickly parroted. Yet federal law does permit abortions to be performed at any time, up until the ninth month of pregnancy. Most states have their own restrictions on abortion, but eight states allow abortion up until birth for any reason. Nevertheless, that didn’t prevent pro-abortion activists from repeatedly insisting that abortions don’t take place that late in pregnancy.
Choosing Which People Deserve Life
In addition to calling Trump a liar, many women came forward to talk about their own experiences with late-term abortion. Most claimed they went forward with the procedure because they received a prenatal diagnosis of a disability or a fetal abnormality. (Interestingly, one story that went viral of a woman’s supposed “late-term abortion” didn’t involve abortion at all.)
As women came forward to shout their abortions in response to Trump, the accounts were often similar. It was a wanted pregnancy, but they received a poor prenatal diagnosis, and chose to abort their babies rather than give birth. Their baby wouldn’t live long after birth, their quality of life would be “poor,” nothing could be done to save them—there were endless excuses for why it was better to just have the abortion.
That’s because in today’s world it’s acceptable to make a value judgment on which lives are worth living and which are not. It’s fine for a woman to decide for someone else whether his or her quality of life is good enough to be worthy of life itself. Women who choose to have an abortion after making that judgment are applauded as brave and compassionate, because they chose to abort their babies.
I was not one of those women. When I was still in the first trimester of my second pregnancy, I agreed to a test called a nuchal translucency screening. I knew that it screened for birth defects, like chromosomal disorders or heart problems, but I never really considered that it would come back positive. The screening consists of an ultrasound and a blood test, and I just wanted the chance to see my baby a little early.
Yes, the Diagnosis Was Devastating
To my surprise, it came back positive, with 1:6 odds that my baby had Down Syndrome. I was referred to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, where I was given the choice to wait until I gave birth to get an official diagnosis, or undergo an amniocentesis and find out now. Complicating matters was that my husband was then an active-duty Marine set to deploy to Afghanistan in mere days. Whatever I decided, I would have to go through it alone.
I decided I couldn’t go through the next five and a half months consumed by stress and worry. I got the amniocentesis two days after my husband left. Three days after that, I got a phone call with the results: male, positive for Trisomy 21, or Down Syndrome.
Finding out my son had Down Syndrome was devastating. I knew it was a possibility, yet I hadn’t allowed myself to believe it would actually happen. I talked myself into believing that everything was just a mistake, that the amniocentesis would come back normal and I would laugh about it later. But deep down, I think I knew. I was too scared to entertain the thought, though.
I had never known anyone with Down Syndrome. I had never even seen anyone with Down Syndrome. I didn’t feel prepared to raise a child with a disability. I was alone and terrified, and I cried for days. But despite my fear, I chose life for my son. There was no other option.
There Are No Excuses for Deliberately Killing a Child
Being a parent to a child with a disability was never part of my plan. It was certainly not something I would have chosen—not at the time, anyway. Regardless, carrying my son in my body did not give me the right to take his life because he didn’t fit into the preconceived notions I had about what I wanted out of a child. Having a disability does not mean that someone has less value than an able-bodied person.
I don’t have the right to kill someone because he or she has a birth defect or a disability, not at any point in his or her life. The fact that so many people feel otherwise—that they think people like my son should be sentenced to death before they’re even born, simply because they’re different or disabled—is utterly heart-wrenching.
When parents get a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome or another disability, they’re often given the worst-case scenario, even if that isn’t the current medical reality. This is especially common with Down Syndrome, with research showing that only 11 percent of women who receive a prenatal diagnosis say the experience was a positive one.
In an anonymous survey, only 63 percent of doctors said they tried to be unbiased about the diagnosis, while 13 percent admitted to emphasizing the negative aspects of Down Syndrome to push the mother towards abortion. It’s no wonder that the majority of women receiving a prenatal diagnosis choose to have an abortion when their doctors are so completely and utterly failing them.
Leaving aside the fact that most late-term abortions are not performed for medical reasons, this line of thinking is not only disturbing, with eugenicist undertones, but also dangerous. Children are not products to be bought and sold, where if you get a defective one, you toss it out. Yet this mindset is promoted at an alarming rate. The majority of Americans don’t support abortion past the first trimester—except in cases of disability or fetal abnormality, and then it’s acceptable.
People with disabilities are quite clearly seen as not deserving of life. Rather than seeing this for the eugenicist outlook that it is, this attitude is applauded and encouraged. It’s disturbing that this is where we have come as a society, where killing your preborn baby because he or she has a disability is now “compassionate” and “brave,” as opposed to the horrifying tragedy that it is.