Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Real Late Term Abortion

One of the three doctors in the nation publicly willing to do late term abortions was murdered today, probably by a "pro-life" fanatic...murdered as he ushered at his Lutheran Church.

If nobody is pro abortion, then absolutely nobody is pro, "late term" abortions, abortions during the third trimester, abortions which happen after the legal age of viability. Most of these abortions are abortions of wanted, loved, even named babies, and they are caused by tragic circumstances. Nobody talks about them, few people defend them, fewer find a calling to provide them. When they happen they are tragedies, and the only good thing one can say about them is that because of late-term abortions, even greater tragedies are averted.

I found one woman's story of a late-term abortion here, and another story where late-term abortion was contemplated, here. I was once involved in a similar situation. It was a long time ago, soon after my own baby was born, and on the one hand, I hesitate to tell her story, but on the other, the world needs to hear these stories so that they can understand the need for this kind of medical care. I hope "C" doesn't mind...and I hope I remember all the details.

I met "C" in the pregnancy exercise program I went to, post-partum. She was still pregnant, and she discovered late in her 6th month that her baby had genetic abnormalities "incompatable with life outside the womb." The testing took a while, her shock and her husband's made decisions difficult. During those weeks every time she went out of her house people smiled at her pregnant body and sometimes even made small talk about her baby. It was...way too hard. They realized that they couldn't do this for three more months and decided to terminate the pregnancy. The baby was going to die probably during birth, certainly within a few hours. Why keep it on life support for three months...especially since 100% of the life support was being provided by my friend's swollen body.

The hospital ethics board had to be involved in this decision, since it was now in the third trimester, and that delayed things a few more days. In the end, they induced an early labor, and that worked. Technically, it wasn't an abortion, but surely they would have had to resort to that if labor had failed.

The baby did die during birth. The family had as planned, a bedside naming ceremony for her. She was held and loved by parents and grandparents until it was time to let her go.

And about 18 months later, I met their second child in the delivery room, and that was a special joy.

I have read that the doctor who was murdered today was an exceptionally gentle man who not only performed a difficult medical procedure, but who did so with compassion for parents in extremely difficult circumstances. May he rest in peace.


Anonymous said...

God bless YOU for YOUR understanding of these times in our lives when we had to make such a hard, difficult, gut-wrenching decision that has left us with memories we wish we could forget and longing that our hearts will never cease to feel. You could have posted horrible words. But you didn't. THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Christine. What a tragedy. I worked in the Reproductive Health Field in the early '90s and ministered to many who faced "wanted" pregnancies with "unwanted" complications. I even testified before the Missouri legislature about this healthcare dilemma with others from Interfaith Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Dr. Tiller pesented a marvelous workshop on the D and X procedure to our staff during that time. He was the consummate, gentle, brave professional. Kathi.

kimc said...

You said "most" were for 'tragic" circumstances. I asked someone I consider trustworthy and she said that ALL of the late-term abortions performed by Dr. Tiller were medical necessities: they had to have a second opinion and be able to convince a judge that they were medically necessary under the law. Dr. Tiller was challenged several times and always won, because he really was, apparently, only doing these for legally acceptable reasons, under a law that is pretty stringent.
I just thought that should be completely clear, since the anti-abortion people have been saying that most of them were just for the convenience of the mother.

Christine Robinson said...

This is what I heard of Dr. Tiller and it is certainly my own very limited experience. However, "all" is a very strong word, and one I just don't have the numbers to defend.