Tomorrow is the start of “40 Days for Life” which has a campaign mission that says:
To bring together the body of Christ in a spirit of unity during a focused 40 day campaign of prayer, fasting, and peaceful activism, with the purpose of repentance, to seek God’s favor to turn hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life, thus bringing an end to abortion.
I think this mission is reflective of just how out of touch the pro-life right-wing is with the true plights of women seeking to terminate a pregnancy. “A culture of death” – seriously?
Clearly the individuals who wrote this mission, those who will stand and pray outside Planned Parenthood facilities, are lacking any true understanding of what drives a woman’s choice to end her pregnancy. The decision to abort is usually not one made in haste or without serious thought. There are some very serious life situations and experiences that the anti-choice are simply not empathizing with, whatsoever.
Hell, if there is anything to pray for, perhaps start with praying for less birth defects, less maternal illness, less rape, less sexual abuse, less child abuse, less poverty…all factors that play a part in the abortion issue.
But, no. Most of those things are not what these 40 days will be about. What they will be about is standing in front of medical facilities to shame the women that find themselves in the tragic situation where the choice has to be made. A choice they neither like, nor wish to make, but feel they must – based upon their personal situation. Whether she is a single woman without the financial security to raise a child, or having a child forced upon her through the violation of rape – her decision is likely not one she has made lightly.
One small group that is completely overlooked by the anti-choice prayer warriors are the women that yearned to hold their babies, but couldn’t. Their children were wanted and loved. Birth plans were underway and prematurely halted by the letters D&C.
“The heartbreak felt when those words are said in the doctor’s office, ‘There is a problem . . .’ is only compounded with the words, ‘You’ll need to make a decision.’ “
As if that agony isn’t enough for these families to endure, they then may have to wade through not only bureaucratic red tape to exercise their choice – depending on what restrictive state laws they are forced to navigate, but also wade through the anti-choice prayer warriors who are readily awaiting them in front of the medical establishment where they will say goodbye to their child.
On what may be the darkest day of their existence, these women are experiencing not only the anguish of losing their child, but also the wrath of a society lacking compassion, understanding, and love.
Here are the stories of six women who shared their experiences with NARAL Pro-Choice America.
The anti-choice crowd may choose to condemn them and ignore their personal pain, but we won’t.
I was examined for almost 2 hours, by a team of experts at the specialist’s office. I knew 2 things: I didn’t want anything to be wrong with my baby and it didn’t matter to me if she was mentally or physically handicapped, my girl would go home with me.
And then, I learned there was a third thing, as the team of specialists turned to us and said the words, ‘…not compatible with life…’
I was prepared for everything but that. I asked if they were certain. I asked for candor. I asked how she could move so much if she was so sick. I was told, ‘Yes. Her movements are seizure-like activity, and not normal fetal movements. She should not have made it to this point. It is a form of miracle that she did. She should already be dead. If she could make it to term, which she undoubtedly will not, the birth process would surely kill her. If it did not, the moment she was separate from your body, she would die.’
I was also told that my options were to end my pregnancy, or go home and wait for my baby to die. I was told, that if I chose to terminate, I had 30 minutes to make the decision, because of a waiting period enforced by law. If I took even 1 day, the waiting period would cause the procedure (which must happen out of state) to occur 1 day too late for it to be legal, according to her estimated gestational age.
I was concerned. At almost 21 weeks, Scott and I went to our appointment with the specialist. The sonogram operator asked us to be quiet, immediately changing the mood of the room. She said she wanted to be honest with us – there were many severe issues with our baby. The brain was not developed appropriately, the heart had multiple defects, and none of the organs were in the correct place.
In 2007, I was diagnosed with HELLP in my 5th month of a wanted pregnancy. Because my body was not responding to the labor inducing drugs so I could deliver my daughter, my body was dying quickly. The ONLY way to cure HELLP is to deliver the fetus.
I only had so many hours to live and my daughter was not going to make it no matter what happened. As a result, I had to be given an emergency abortion to save my life. If that were not an option under the laws, my family would have lost both me and my unborn baby.
I was married with a 3 year old when I got pregnant for the second time. My husband and I were thrilled to find out we were going to have another girl. However, when I was five months pregnant my baby contracted Fifth’s Disease and died. I was told that because she was so far along I had to go to the maternity ward to deliver her. While there I was told by the nurses that this was, ‘Gods Plan.’ The experience of giving birth to my dead daughter while I could hear healthy babies in the rooms next door was immensely traumatic.
It was not until months later that I started to question why I was not given the option to have the child removed surgically. I went to the doctor and asked why I was not given that option, and explained that the birth experience was the most traumatic part of the loss. She stated, ‘because late term abortions are not legal in North Carolina.’ It didn’t matter that I did not terminate the pregnancy, that my daughter had died due to illness. The pregnancy was already over, but I had to go through the experience of stillbirth, which haunts me to this day. The doctor also told me she had a patient have her stillborn child removed via c-section because she could not bear the still birth process. This is inhumane.
This story is about my great grandma Josephine and why I am pro-choice. I have always been pro-choice and believe what we choose to do with our bodies is nobody else’s concern. But the story of my grandma Jo cuts to the heart of why abortion must be kept safe and legal. My grandma became pregnant in 1948 with her second pregnancy. 12 weeks into the pregnancy she became very ill and went to the doctor. He explained her fetus had died and was rotting inside her causing mass infection. He told her it was illegal to treat this condition and she would soon face death. Shocked and terrified she left the office.
A nurse followed her out and handed her a slip of paper with no name just a number. The nurse said, ‘I did not give you this.’ Grandma went home and called the number. A man answered an only said ‘Give me an address I will be there at midnight.’ Midnight arrived and a man came carrying a medical bag and a bucket. He told her to lie on her dining room table and open her legs. He performed the procedure right there. Four years later my grandfather was born. I would not be here today if it were not for a nurse with a slip of paper and an unknown man. He never charged my grandma a cent. But we owe him everything. Protect Roe v. Wade!!!
Thirty-five years ago, I was married and the mother of a beautiful little girl. I also was suffering from an undiagnosed but painful bout of what turned out to be colitis. After two days of upper and lower GI and small bowel Xrays, the colitis was discovered and treatment began. Within two days of the testing process, we also discovered that I was two months pregnant. After many tests and discussions with my gynecologist and my husband, we found out that the fetus had been severely damaged by the Xrays and that it was nonviable. At that point, my choices were to carry a nonviable fetus to term or to have an abortion. Thank God I did have a choice – and that, thanks to Roe v Wade, all we women continue to have such choices. We must always have choices.
Featured image via The Catholic Beat