This last week, Caroline Kee reached out to me and asked if she could write about our story for Buzzfeed. 'Of course you can', I immediately thought. Afterall, my whole goal through sharing has been for our story to reach those who may be uneducated in the facts behind late-term abortions (for example, people still believe that "partial birth abortion" is an actual medical term, it's not). Buzzfeed was a great outlet for this to happen. Their reach far exceeds my personal Facebook page and I was hoping sharing through them would embolden other women to stand up and share their stories. So far it definitely has as my inbox is currently filling with women's stories. Keep them coming, ladies!
It's an incredibly strange feeling having your personal tragedy aired out to the world and like with most things made public, our story has not been immune to ridicule.
Though the response is overwhelmingly positive by probably 999 to 1, I have experienced my fair share of ridicule this week, and it doesn't feel good. This goes pretty hand-in-hand with any story I have read about late-term abortion, no matter the situation. As much as I want to (and I know other mothers in my situation want to), it would be incredibly unhealthy to respond to each person who has a snide remark. We would go insane.
I talked recently with some of my friends (women who have experienced similar loss) and asked them which questions/comments got under their skin the most and if they could respond to each one what they would say. I have compiled some of the most commonly made statements and our responses below.
What do you want to say when people say "abortion is murder"?
Becky: It is no more murder than a parent who chooses to remove a child from life-support. We are fortunate to live in a country where we have bodily autonomy and informed consent. If our child was in the hospital on life-support, as parents we would have the legal right to choose to withdraw care and it wouldn't be murder. If the UPS man came in off the street and removed our child from life-support without our consent it would be murder. In this case our bodies are the life-support machine, and as parents we have the legal right to choose to withdraw care from our child who is dying.
Darla: I have a hard time with this one. Like Becky mentioned, there's removal from life support. But also, if you're speaking to someone who believes that an unborn child deserves all the same rights as you and me. There's no reasoning with them. But to me, this is vastly different from murdering someone in cold blood, or even the death penalty. And I say that not as someone who has lived it, but as someone who truly believes that this just isn't the same thing.
Lindsey: Until birth, a fetus is 100% dependent on its mother's body. Even if the fetus were to be legally considered a life, the "right to life" doesn't mean the right to use someone else's body. If it did then people wouldn't have the right to refuse organ or blood donation for example (even if doing so would save someone else's life). The "right to life" also doesn't mean the right to live by threatening someone else's life. At the end of the day, the "right to life" is a right to NOT have someone else's will imposed upon your body. What makes a woman's body not deserving of this right?
"But doctors aren't God, they don't always know what they're talking about! They told me my child was going to die and he didn't, now he is 5 years old."
Darla: For me, this is along the lines of, "but what about a miracle?!" and I just can't. A miracle is, by definition, surprising, inexplicable, unexpected. Therefore, one cannot expect a miracle.
Becky: While we of course hoped for a miracle, we also believe that doctors have been put on this planet for a reason. Knowing the pain/suffering our child would experience if born living, we knew we could not in good conscience subject them to a 99.9% chance of excruciating pain and a prolonged death while hoping to fall in the .1% of miraculous recoveries.
Lindsey: The people who say that we should have waited for a miracle are the ones who frustrate me the most. If you believe that God could have worked a miracle, then you believe he is all-powerful. This means that he could have healed Omara at any point. This means that he knew the day and time I was scheduled for our termination. If he wanted to save our daughter by a miracle, he could have. As her mother, it is my duty to protect her and I did so by giving her a peaceful death. If God wanted her to live and be with us, she would be here.
Hadleigh: Let's also remember how far modern medicine has come. Even just a few years ago some diagnoses were based on indicators with a % change, vs now, with tests like NIPT blood work we are getting a 99.9% accurate diagnosis based on chromosomes.
"Only God should take a life, not you or your doctor."
Darla: So if your child/spouse/parent were on life support, you don't think it's within your rights to remove life support if they are "living" as a vegetable? If the answer is "I wouldn't remove [them from] life support," then there's no reasoning. But in my mind, this was no different.
Robin: My thoughts are 'I don't believe in God' (whether that's true or not is beside the point). Or more to the point "I don't believe in your version of God." which is true. My relationship with God is that God wouldn't put me in this position - being a mother - just to have me choose to let my loved daughter suffer. My God would never judge me for choosing this humane option after so many experts in their field assured me that it would be fatal and painful for our daughter. So I'm not beholden to their God's rules because I don't believe in their version of God. There are many ways to have a spiritual relationship with God and the world around us to make ourselves the best people we can be and to make sense of the world around us. Some believe their faith is the only right one, and I just can't wrap my head around that. I respect that they have their belief system, but mine is different, and I believe it deserves just as much respect as theirs does. I would never dream of telling them they were inhumane if they wanted to continue carrying their child, hoping for a miracle, because of their faith. I wish the respect went both ways more often than it feels like it does. We're all just doing the best we can with the circumstances we are given.
Becky: The God that I know wouldn't want my child to suffer needlessly. Like you said, their version of God is the only right one, so it's almost like a waste of breath...I mean, pro-lifers who are against late-term abortions would have rather seen both of my daughters die because "abortion is murder" and I should have "trusted that God would have saved them." No. He was not going to save them. I had to. The doctors had to. Period.
"Your baby deserves to have been born so that they could die in your arms."
Robin: My thought on this one is that if the baby is born, don't we still have to choose when to take him/her off life support, and is that somehow ok once their born? Newborns can't express consent any more than a fetus can, nor an adult that has been in an accident and has no brain activity. Do abortion-opposers also support leaving humans on life support for forever? (Maybe they do?) We were faced with a terrible decision, with no good choices that were pain free. But we thought our daughter passing away peacefully in my womb, hearing my heartbeat and feeling my warmth with a far less neurologically advanced system was better than allowing her to go through the trauma of birth just to have life support eventually have to be removed. Neither option was great, but we felt our choice was the right one for us.
Darla: Glad to think you believe my baby deserved to suffer a painful, short existence. And a traumatizing, painful, and dangerous delivery. Our situation was different [with it being twins], so for us, I would have to include my other daughter's life being at risk. But generally speaking, I am NOT for the needless suffering of a baby who is going to die anyway. Let her go peacefully in your womb hearing your heart beating.
Lindsey: My baby would have died very painfully before ever making it to my arms. I could never imagine willfully and knowingly putting my child into that type of situation. We chose to end the pregnancy so that she could die peacefully by a painless injection.
"You poor woman, your doctors have led you astray and misinformed you."
Robin: I have actually read comments where people say doctors like to butcher babies. Maybe there are a handful of psychopaths out there who would enjoy that, but do people honestly think the three independent experts we consulted on our options, and the 8-10 people in our operating room who performed the termination of my pregnancy all ENJOYED ending our daughter's life? After I tearfully and urgently told my doctor over and over that I wanted my daughter desperately and to please treat her with love and care? It is simply untrue to believe that doctors do this for fun. Unfortunately abortions are part of well-woman care and that is never going to change - circumstances like ours are never going to stop existing and we need the procedures to be safe.
Darla: My doctors were VERY invested in giving us the most accurate information possible. Peter (my husband) always says that Cate's the most imaged baby ever because our OB imaged her, our MFM imaged her probably ten times between initial diagnosis and termination, and the specialist we saw in Houston imaged her for THREE HOURS. They wanted her to be okay. And she wasn't. And they were devastated for us. Also, read what Dr. Google has to say about her various developmental issues. There was no leading astray.
Becky: We saw a large number of doctors, all of whom are considered to be experts in their field. Of course we are going to trust their professional knowledge gained through nearly a decade of education and continuing practice over the armchair quarterbacking of Dr. Google.
Jessica: People assume so much. People have argued about my son's diagnoses, but they had the wrong condition in mind! My doctors did not lead me astray. They gave me all of the information needed to make an educated decision.
"This isn't the type of abortion they are trying to ban!"
Darla: Yes it is. You talk about "late-term abortions," and this is what you talk about. You think you're talking about ending an unwanted pregnancy late in the pregnancy, but facts are that's just not common. And under the law, abortion is abortion. No exceptions made.
Becky: Unfortunately, this is. Whether intentional or not, none of the recent legislation around abortion bans has included exceptions for the health or viability of the child. The health of the mother is considered, but a fatal fetal diagnosis has not been included as a valid reason for an exception to the ban.
Zoe: They are trying to ban all abortions, however it is not possible to have different rules for 'different kinds' of abortion because there is too fine of a line. Who decides if the baby is sick enough? Who decides at what point the mother's life really is in danger? Doctors will be too worried about malpractice suits, that they will wait to be 100% sure that the mother's life is at risk that the mother could die; this actually happened in Ireland. I feel if you truly want to stop abortions of unwanted babies then put this emotion and effort into lowering the need for them, fight for sex education, free contraception, maternity leave, etc... then the only abortions needed will be [medically necessary].