I understand the fear of receiving a terrifying diagnosis while pregnant, because it happened to me. As a parent, especially a mother, I wanted nothing more than to grow a “perfect” child. I selfishly desired to have him develop inside me and be delivered without any abnormalities.
We waited with much anticipation for what seemed like months for our first ultrasound. In reality, it was only seven weeks. Finally, we got to see on the screen our little baby safely growing inside my body. We breathed a sigh of relief at the security of seeing the life we created.
I was given the usual do’s and don’ts. The nurse told me to take prenatals, intake extra calories and water, rest, drink no alcohol, etc. She also provided us a huge packet whose contents briefly described a slew of optional prenatal tests and bloodwork.
Back home, we researched a bit more and went back and forth on genetic testing. For me, it was unnecessary. No diagnosis would make me view the life inside me as anything less or worthy of ending its life. My husband had a different perspective. For him, it could equip us with the best tools, doctors, and knowledge available, preparing us for the safest delivery possible if we were to receive a prenatal diagnosis like Down Syndrome or Trisomy 18.
With this outlook, we agreed. A few weeks later we were escorted back into a room to meet with the genetic counselor. We only agreed to the more extensive testing if something came back unusual in the first sample. Next, we headed to ultrasound room, where the tech gently moved the probe over my abdomen to do the nuchal translucency test. We got to see our baby’s profile. All of a sudden, the room got silent and the tech stopped talking.
Next thing we knew, a doctor rushed into our room with another nurse. “Your baby’s nuchal measurement was a little large and there are pockets of fluid all over the baby’s different body cavities, so we have to do the blood work portion of the genetic test,” came the explanation.
In a haze, while a nurse took blood out of my forearm, we heard all the potential diagnoses. The fluid is fatal, the nuchal measurement indicates Downs or a heart defect, and on and on. All bedside manner was tossed aside, and so was our joy.
I wept that night in my car before a Christmas party. It seemed ironic to be celebrating the greatest life given to humanity while also mourning for the life given to my husband and me. I felt selfish and ashamed. After much prayer and advice, we let it go. We retook the joy the pregnancy gave us that the doctor had stripped away.
We found great comfort for God’s hand on our baby’s life and that his life was not dependent on a medical diagnosis. Even after the baby’s genetic blood work all came back fine, his 20-week anatomy scan all clear, and a normal prenatal echocardiogram, I was still pushed to have more testing. It seemed to us the medical practice pushed these tests to ensure our son’s health for fear that we wouldn’t blame them if he was born with an abnormal condition.
Today, we have a healthy almost two-year-old, and even if he wasn’t the picture of health, he would still be perfect in every way, regardless of what the medical team thought.
I couldn’t help comparing my story with those of women sharing about their decision to abort. For them and their doctors, abortion was the guarantee that their baby wouldn’t be born with a defect. One set of parents justified their decision saying: “Abortion is not just about getting rid of a baby. Being able to have an abortion for us meant our child, our son, didn’t have to suffer. And that my husband and I got to provide to him only safety and security. When he was born, I was able to hold him, my husband was able to hold him.”
Yet another said: “I can’t speak for people who are anti-abortion, but I suspect they have a strain of thinking that a miracle could happen and my baby would have survived. But that’s not the kind of parent I am. I’m not going to gamble with her life. I gathered all the information I could and I asked the hardest questions of myself, and this is what made sense for our family. I believe very strongly that this was the most moral decision I’ve ever made.”
The mainstream media dumped a handful of these stories after the Senate failed to pass both the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act last week. They seem think it is their duty to make Americans think abortion is a common good.
While the Pain-Capable Act would have banned abortion after 20 weeks of gestation due to the overwhelming scientific evidence that babies at this age can feel pain, the Born-Alive Act has nothing to do with abortion. Born-Alive would require medical personnel to perform the same life-saving measures on an infant born alive after a failed abortion attempt that they would provide to any other baby born at the same gestational age. These practitioners must also immediately transport and admit the infant to a hospital where the child can continue to receive care.
However, both pieces of legislation are similar in that they recognize the inherent humanity of the preborn. As a society we go through great lengths to give people dignity, even going so far as to legalize, in some states, “death with dignity” laws that allow a person to commit suicide under the pretext that their health doesn’t allow them to live dignified or pain-free.
Is it so “compassionate” to abort your child if he can feel the excruciating pain of being torn apart in a dilation and evacuation abortion or as he shivers and fights for breath after being left to die in cold room?
I empathize with these women because I know what it feels like to have a doctor tell you your child could die in utero or live a hard life. But it doesn’t justify abortion as a necessary evil. These preborn babies and those who survive a botched abortion deserve a shot at life, no matter what their health outcome may be.
The failure of the Senate to pass both the Born-Alive and Pain-Capable acts validates the claim that the preborn have no rights. They are single-handedly deciding who is worthy of life. Babies who can feel pain, with a genetic disorder diagnosis, and miraculously born alive after abortion don’t make the cut. In other words, these legislators seem to think that moms and dads, and their preborn babies, are not capable of handling adversity or creative enough to consider that there is self-worth and purpose for every human, even if it’s less than the ideal.
There are no grey areas in life and death. Taking one’s life simply because it is imperfect is not moral. Without this viewpoint, we will never have pro-life protections made into law and any person, not just the preborn, will be susceptible to being deemed “incompatible with life.” We must continue to fight for laws that recognize and guarantee the humanity of all people.