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The Hardest Choice: Why I had a second-term abortion. By Phoebe Terry for

Why I had a second-term abortion.

By Phoebe Terry |

Everyone’s talking about the murder of George Tiller, the Kansas doctor assassinated because of his work providing late-term abortions to women (and, it must be said, girls). Much of the talk, on television anyway, centers on political questions: Will the Tiller murder reignite abortion as an issue at this delicate moment, just as a new justice is being considered for the Supreme Court? Will conservative pundits bear some responsibility for their characterization of the doctor as “Tiller the killer”? Does criticizing those who demonized him amount to a call for censorship?

The questions I would ask are different: Will someone else take over Tiller’s practice? How many places are left that will offer the service he did, terminating pregnancy in the second and even third trimesters? Who will take care of these mothers when they find themselves facing the worst choice ever?

Choice isn’t just a euphemism for abortion, and it’s not a political term of art either. The women who went to Dr. Tiller weren’t seeking to abort pregnancies they hadn’t chosen in the first place; they went to him because of wanted pregnancies that had gone terribly wrong, because they and their wished-for children got stuck with the worst luck ever – because they found themselves in situations they never, ever would have chosen. I know because I could have been one of them.

I hadn’t expected to be pregnant again. Our son was only eighteen months old, and at forty I wasn’t sure I was all that fertile. But my period was late and as I remembered our kid-free weekend getaway a few weeks earlier, I immediately used the last in an old boxful of pregnancy tests, left over from our days of trying to conceive our son. When it came up positive I was shocked, then thrilled – then worried, since it was an oldish test, possibly expired. My husband was out of town so I dragged the toddler off to the drugstore to buy some newer tests – these, too, showed the pale blue crosses. I called my husband’s cellphone. Out with friends, he shared the news right away; they all drank to our great good fortune.

Because we’d had a miscarriage before conceiving the toddler, and because of my age, I got an early ultrasound at eight weeks. I took the pictures – the baby looked like a child’s drawing of a teddy bear, circles etched in white, floating in a dark sack – when I traveled to my hometown for my father’s retirement party. After I returned, around eleven weeks pregnant, we heard the baby’s galloping heartbeat via the Doppler listening device.

“Nice strong heartbeat,” the doctor said. “You can relax now.” I started to take her advice. I thought, having had a miscarriage before our son, that I had already been through the worst my reproductive life had to offer, and was now getting to the good stuff. I was wrong.

A week later we had another ultrasound, this one to look at the baby’s nuchal fold measurement, an early sign, sometimes, of heightened risk for Down syndrome. Ultrasound rooms are dark and cool and quiet places. While the technician guided her wand on my tummy and looked at her monitor, my husband and I looked the other way, into a monitor set up just for us. The baby bubbled into view, yielding some obvious features – skull, spine – while others looked mysterious and hard to read, etchings in a language I don’t know. The easy thing to remember is that dark is fluid and white is tissue. At twelve weeks, the baby is just around two inches long.

The room got quieter as soon as the technician pushed and angled her wand to see the baby’s neck and spine. What should have been a tiny line of darkness looked like a deflated balloon stretching from the baby’s neck down its back to its rump. I simultaneously noticed that it looked wrong and immediately deleted the thought from my mind, asking instead about the profile, the legs, the hands. My husband asked if we could have a picture. The technician said sure, but didn’t save or print one. She removed the wand from my belly, wiped up the sticky blue jelly, and told us the doctor would be in soon.

As soon as she left the room, I began to cry.

A doctor we hadn’t yet met entered, measured in silence for what seemed like years, then crossed his arms and sighed. He told us that instead of the two millimeters they expect to see, our baby’s nuchal translucency measured 76 millimeters, off their charts. He suspected Trisomy 18, a chromosomal disorder that kills most affected children before birth, and the remainder a few days or weeks after. The rare child who survives more than a few months with Trisomy 18 will be profoundly mentally retarded and painfully physically disabled. Virtually none survive more than a year or two. We immediately scheduled another test to confirm the diagnosis, but the doctor pointed out that even if this baby didn’t have a chromosomal disorder – a vanishingly small possibility – it almost certainly had other major physical problems.

“We can’t do anything for these kids,” the doctor said, “but the best we can do is tell you early.” What he said violated the carefully drawn terms of the abortion debate – to call the fetus a kid even as you make plans for termination – but he was right on both counts.

Nobody can prepare you for how quickly things change. That morning I had been thinking about beds. Specifically, I was strategizing the family sleeping arrangements like a particularly complex word problem in math class: If we moved the toddler into a big boy bed sometime just before the new baby came, then we would not have to buy or borrow a new crib. But how to time it? Move too soon, and we might destroy our toddler’s good sleep habits, do it too late and we’d risk intense sibling rivalry as he saw a new baby move into his beloved crib. Would we move the two into a shared bedroom, and when? I looked forward to converting our current guest room into a nursery for two, and re-inventing the toddler’s room as a smaller guest room.

A few hours later I was planning for a procedure you don’t have at my age unless there’s something terribly, terribly wrong. We agreed we would almost certainly terminate the pregnancy, we would say goodbye to this very much wanted, very much loved child.

Over the next day I learned a lot of things I’d never known before. How when you cry very hard while lying on your side you can actually feel the tear make its way from one eye across the bridge of your nose into the other eye, pushing a new tear out of that one. How much hope you can pack into two inches. How 76 millimeters – it’s tiny, such a small measurement – can blow your heart open.

When I told friends what had happened, they cried with me. One sent me a link to a website where women wrote of similar bad ultrasounds and horrible options. While some of these women chose to carry to term, gestating and delivering babies born to die, or born already dead, most didn’t. The pain they faced was nearly matched by the logistical obstacles in their way. Most of them only learned of their babies’ serious problems at a second-trimester ultrasound, far too late to terminate in most places – not by law, but because the doctors and facilities simply do not exist. This is why there’s a section of the website devoted to “Kansas Stories.”

Because I grew up in Kansas, yet had never heard of Dr. Tiller, I clicked out of curiosity (even wondering, for a second, if chromosomal abnormalities could be more common in Kansas). Story after story described anguished journeys to Wichita, rushing through throngs of protestors only to emerge in a place of kindness and succor.

Reading their stories, I realized I was almost lucky; I live in a state where insurers cover the nuchal fold test, I was old enough that it was recommended. If my situation had been different, I might have found out about this baby’s condition when they did, at the 20-week ultrasound – after feeling the baby move, after weeks in maternity clothes, in the midst of shopping for cribs and bibs.

I didn’t have to go to Kansas. A week later, after cornfirming the diagnosis, I terminated this pregnancy at the hospital where my son was born. For the actual procedure, I was completely sedated. It was the first good sleep I’d had since that hushed ultrasound room.

Friends, who mean well, sometimes refer to what happened as a miscarriage. I know they’re trying to spare me the label “abortion.” I know they’re trying to be kind; they’re trying to absolve me of the implications of choice. But as much as I appreciate and depend on their kindness, I disagree with them. First, because I’ve had a miscarriage before, and this was different. When you miscarry your body is taking you on a ride your heart and mind rebel against; when you terminate a wanted pregnancy, it’s your mind against both heart and body. You do what you have to do – what the doctors caring for you tell you is right and what you know is best for you and for the baby – but your uterus keeps growing, the placenta keeps pumping your blood and nutrients into that tiny body, and there’s no way your heart can ever be ready to say goodbye.

And second, because this was a choice. When you have children, literally from the moment you realize you’re pregnant till the day they go off to college, your days are filled with choices – about birth plans, breastfeeding, diaper types, potty training, preschool curricula, sports and activities, clothing and Internet use, dating and driving, and on and on. But when your pregnancy takes the kind of turn mine did, all your mothering boils down to one choice – and I chose to spare my child the suffering of a brief, painful life. Of all the million and one things I wished I could be doing for this child, the only act of love circumstances allowed me to perform was this one. The women who went to Dr. Tiller made the same choice, under even more excruciating circumstances. Now that he’s gone, who will help women like them?

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About Phoebe Terry


Phoebe Terry

Phoebe Terry is a pseudonym of a writer in the Northeast.

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94 thoughts on “The Hardest Choice: Why I had a second-term abortion. By Phoebe Terry for

  1. SashaB says:

    So, so beautiful.  Thank you for writing this and highlighting the tragedy of Dr. Tiller’s death. 

  2. Sarah101 says:

    A friend of mine faced a similar choice and I remember how devastating and heartbreaking it was for her.  Thank you for writing about your own experience so beautifully.  More stories like this one can only add much-needed complexity and insight to a debate so often marked by dogma and ignorance.

  3. anonymom says:

    I thought the same thing when I read of Dr. Tiller’s tragic death… instant sadness for his family and worry for the women and girls he will no longer be able to help. I have to believe that women telling their stories (as painful as it can be) will lead to change. Thank you for telling yours.

  4. JGM123 says:

    I feel for you and women in your incredibly painful situation.  However, every time I hear people say conservative pundits should be penalized for this crime I am floored.  Turn off the knee-jerk emotion for one minute and ask if you REALLY want to live in a society where people do not have freedom of speech.  Someday, you might be the one the who disagrees.  There’s this little thing called free will, and denouncing someone’s actions does not make someone responsible for the crimes another commits.  Hence, when a conservative commentator denounces the actions of an abortion provider who is then murdered, the commentator is NOT the one who committed the crime!

  5. Shana says:

    JGM123, people that have to go through this want to hear conservative pundits tell them they have done something wrong even less than my husband and I want to get dirty looks from people because of ou interracial relationship.  Granted they do indeed have the free speech rights to say whatever they believe.  The problem though is that sometimes those opinions are based on mistruths or a bid for ratings.  And that is a painful thing to hear when you are going through something like that.
    I am currently 8.5 months pregnant and I can tell you without a doubt that if I was in the same position as some of the families that have had to seek out Dr. Tiller, I would make sure that those protesters knew that I want my kid.  My husband and I got pregnant on purpose after a miscarriage that I cried about for days!  It is horrible to see the amount of people that have been posting on websites ad such talking about these women just didn’t want to be nconvenienced or whatever.  Do any of them even think about the fact that these women they are putting down could feel their babies move, had purchased things for these kids, named them?

  6. JGM123 says:

    I’m pro-choice, but I also think that means people have the choice to disagree with that.  Just because people don’t WANT to hear something doesn’t mean jack.  We are talking about fundamental rights as Americans, not making people uncomfortable.  Is what the writer had to go through horrible, of course.  Mind-bogglingly awful.  My point is that people who say things you don’t like still have the freaking right to say it.  I suppose people who give you dirty looks for being in an interracial relationship should have their eyes gouged out so they can no longer judge people on appearances.

  7. Ali says:

    Dr. Tiller is a martyr to women all over the world now. He truely cared about us. We are just as confined as women in Saudi Arabia or China as far as our reproductive privacy is concerned. In the US women still live in the third world. Fight harder.

  8. silvita says:

    I am very, very sorry for what happened to you. I can’t even imagine the pain you endured. Thanks for sharing your story and for bringing a new angle to Dr. Tiller’s case. It’s scary how ignorance and fanaticism can just make something so unimaginably painful even worse.

  9. Chimom says:

    This must have been a difficult piece to write. Thank you for discussing this and helping others with your story.

  10. luckynewmom says:

    This piece made me cry and I cry for Dr. Tiller, a true angel of mercy.

  11. amya says:

    This essay is beautiful, and very helpful. Since I became a parent, I’ve been really conflicted about abortion. I was a pro-choice activist from my teens on but then when I saw my (very much wanted) son’s ultrasound at six weeks I suddenly thought, “Oh my God, it’s a baby!” and felt like maybe abortion wasn’t so okay after all. I still thought it should be legal, but I suddenly, secretly thought it was a Very Bad Thing. This essay put everything in perspective. The questions of where life begins or whether it’s Bad or Good aren’t the right questions to be asking. Women need access to abortion. Period. The thought that a woman like the one in this essay would be told by the government what she could or couldn’t do in her situation is criminal. The questions Phoebe asks in this piece are the right questions.

  12. tcs says:

    Thank you so much for telling your story.

  13. meggie says:

    What JGM123 fails to see is that the ferocious fear and shame tactics that both these conservative talking heads and extremists use to deter women from “choosing” abortion are only effective in leaving women to suffer in silence, since most women who have undergone or are planning to undergo an abortion feel they never actually had a choice in the first place. Those words HURT women, and just because you can say it doesn’t mean you should, or that you are not responsible for the harm caused by your words. The case for freedom of speech is weakened by those who use it as a tool to bring other people down and further their own personal agenda. You are hurting all of us by pleading this defense. Please stop now.

  14. ChiLaura says:

    Jenny Schroedel’s “Naming the Child” (available on is a book full of amazing reflections on the beauty that “even” children afflicted with Trisomy 18 and other fatal diseases can bring to their parents and siblings. (It also deals with miscarriage and stillbirth, and I highly, highly recommend it to anyone who has ever gone thru any of these things.) The author was forced to decide between two incredibly painful choices, that much is clear. Without impugning her, though, it seems that the few parents who share her situation and choose life in the face of death are truly courageous individuals.

  15. trisomy18org says:

    And although less than 10 percent survive to their first birthdays,
    some children with Trisomy 18 can enjoy many years of life with their
    families, reaching milestones and being involved with their community. 
    A small number of adults (usually girls) with Trisomy 18 have and are
    living into their twenties and thirties, although with significant
    developmental delays that do not allow them to live independently
    without assisted care giving.

  16. girl with a choice says:

    Thank you for shinning some light in the eyes of those so narrow minded that don’t understand the struggles women face. It is a tragedy that our the choices we make out of love have to be scrutinized by others.

  17. wwwwwww says:

    Thank you for being a voice for those of use who have had to make this horrible choice. I too experienced something very similar during my first pregnancy. Luckily, I had a wonderful hospital and amazing doctor. I have since gone on to have two healthy children – but I will never forget my first baby. People should not judge until they have walked in our shoes.

  18. jeanbean says:

    Thanks for sharing your story – it is, as always, nice for other women to know they are not alone when facing such difficult choices.

  19. puasamanda says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It must be incredibly difficult to live it again in such a public way, and I just want you to know that your doing so is a great public service. Too often, the women who have faced this heart-rending situation are shamed into silence about it by people who have never walked in their shoes. Speaking up and speaking out can help show a side of the debate that is rarely seen, and can only help all of us become more supportive and understanding – no matter what our views on abortion may be.

  20. Making the tougher choice says:

    The nuchal fold test also has a false positive rate of 5% – this means that 5 out
    of 100 babies that are seen to have a thickened nuchal fold when in
    fact, they do not. Thank God for those women who do continue with pregnancy.

  21. grievingparent says:

    thank you so much for telling this very difficult story. I had a similar situation with my first child, who was determined to have no brain growth at 22 weeks and therefore we made the agonizing choice to end the pregnancy and spare the child a short life of suffering. We later found out I was a carrier of fragile x. I went on to have two healthy children, but each pregnancy bore the risk of losing another one to the same disease. It was a terrifying and life altering experience, but I am so grateful I was allowed to find out the information and make the right decision for me and my family. This is a personal issue that belongs between a woman, her doctor and her family. Ending that pregnancy was the hardest thing I have ever done, and I am always sad and grieve that loss, but I am so glad I was able to do what I thought was the right thing.

  22. Laure68 says:

    Thank you so much for your story. In all the talk about Dr. Tiller’s death, I wondered why we did not hear more about these difficult choices women make when they find out something is wrong with their pregnancy. I read that, at Dr. Tiller’s funeral, there was a large sign that stated “Trust Women”. I was so moved by this.

  23. catmom says:

    This essay is the most genuine tribute Dr. Tiller could receive, and probably the most important thing that this website has ever run. I am dismayed, however, to see that earlier comments by (I believe) ChiLaura and some trisomy group were removed.

  24. kelly01 says:

    After being pro-choice my entire life I struggled with what to call my developing fetus. I was certainly connected to it as a “baby,” but I felt that calling him that somehow took away from the fight for abortion rights. When I was talking with a friend about this she told me that she believes life begins when you conceive of the idea of a baby. So for a woman who has been actively trying to get pregnant, life does begin at conception… because to her that fetus is a baby. But for a woman who has an unwanted pregnancy it’s not a baby to her. Framing it in this way suddenly made the whole issue so much more nuanced. It’s made it easier for me to mourn with women who make the difficult decision to have late-term abortions and easier to support women who are not prepared to be pregnant and choose to abort a fetus. I think if there were more nuance added to this national conversation perhaps doctors like Dr. Tiller wouldn’t have to fear for their lives.

  25. Amanda B says:

    What the author and her family had to go through must have been more painful than I can even imagine. I certainly cannot judge her. I have no idea what choice I would make if I was in her place. However, I would like to remind everyone that Dr. Tiller did not simply perform late-term abortions for women like the author. Some women chose to have a late-term abortion for reasons nothing like this. While the murder of Dr. Tiller was a horrible, disgusting crime, I don’t think he should be canonized as some kind of saint for women. He ended the lives of perfectly healthy viable human beings too.

  26. ChiLaura says:

    Where is my comment? I really don’t think that it was offensive at all. I actually thought that I presented the “other side” in the least offensive manner possible. And that’s not my own book I’m talking about, it’s someone else’s. I only wish that I could write something so beautiful and moving. Come on, babble, please re-post my comment! I disagree with your (apparent) stance that just because I myself have never been faced with this choice I have nothing to add.
    And thanks, catmom, for noticing that my comment was removed and at least defending my “right” to speak.
    Amanda B, you’re exactly right about “the rest” of Dr Tiller’s practice. There are many pro-lifers, myself included, who recognize that ending a wanted pregnancy because of fetal deformity is many degrees different from ending one because of inconvenience. Some of us are not so blind that we have sympathy for the author’s terrible dilemma. However, as you say, he isn’t a saint in the minds of many other women, who see that he also engaged in “end[ing] the lives of perfectly healthy viable human beings too.” Which is not to say that his own life should’ve been taken!

  27. anonymouswoman says:

    Dear “Pro-Choice” Women,
    If your mother aborted you, you wouldn’t be here, reading this. Who are you to choose who lives and dies? How do all these women know that there won’t be a cure for whatever their baby has when they reach full term, no matter how impossible it may seem at the time? We put adult murders in jail; you make a hero out of an adult who kills innocent babies. Hmmm.

  28. rainydayindenver says:

    Dear anonymous woman,
    When you have had to face the notion of carrying a dying fetus to term, when you have had to make this choice, when you have been been told by a doctor that carrying a child to term may very well endanger your own life, only then can you tell me who is a hero. Only then can you tell me how this decision has a simple, black and white answer. Until then, there must be a choice.

  29. cyndiego says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Made me cry. Take care.

  30. awoman says:

    I am so sorry for what you had to go through and I completely sympathize with your stance on the Tiller murder. When I was nearing the end of the first trimester of my current and second pregnancy, a routine blood test showed that I had recently caught the CMV virus – an infection that amounts to not much more than flu-like symptoms in most children and adults, but can be very dangerous to a fetus, leading possibly to severe neurological and physiological disorders of the kind you described. I was told that there was a 40% chance of the fetus having been infected, and that the only way to know for sure was via amniocentesis at week 20-22. My husband and I decided that if the fetus was found to have been infected we would terminate the pregnancy. An excruciating couple of months followed, in which it was all I could do just to “hope for the best and prepare for the worst.” Luckily for us, the amniocentesis results were ok. But the point is that in a situation such as ours, there was no way to make the decision sooner, earlier into the pregnancy. We had to wait for the results at around week 21 so as not to abort a healthy and wanted baby. It seems to me that this type of situation is way too morally complicated and personally difficult to fit neatly into a political pro-choice vs. pro-life argument. I believe that most women who find themselves facing late abortions do so because of serious complications and are having a hard enough time as it is, and that they and their doctors should be treated with courtesy and respect.

  31. Rebecca Miller says:

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful, personal and painful story.

  32. BabbleEditors says:

    Hi – just wanted to address issue of deleted comments. That little “Flag for Abuse” button sends comments into a kind of message purgatory from which either Gwynne or I have to go and rescue them. If your comment gets deleted and it’s not spam about Jessica Alba (which 90% of flagged comments are), it will be freed within hours or days, as soon as we log in and locate it. Thanks for reading and commenting! These conversations are so important. – Ada, EIC

  33. Shan says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story.
    No one can really understand what it is like until they are there. Under very different circumstances my husband and I had to decide whether to take our brain-dead child off artificial life support. (We did, and she died shortly thereafter. For the commenter who thinks that sticking it out is the “tougher” choice, I really have to say: You have no idea.)
    What struck me about people’s reactions to that choice was that so many people think they have a handle on what parents “should” or “shouldn’t” decide. But in fact, we all make choices of life or death for our children – whether to conceive, whether to carry to term or not, whether to vaccinate, whether to drive to the ER, whether to use a car seat, and so on.  Of course the extreme choices stand in relief to every day decisions, but to say that a parent doesn’t have that kind of responsibility for a gamete, embryo, fetus, newborn, child is ridiculous.
    What is tragic is when parents have to make that kind of decision in isolation from medical experts and practitioners who can help them understand the information and situation at that time, or for political reasons like not having access to legal procedures. I’m very pleased to see these stories being told.

  34. bmoremom says:

    Almost 7 years ago, I went through a similar experience with my first, very much wanted, pregnancy. My options were to go through labor and delivery or to have an abortion. I chose the latter. It was deeply traumatic, and I still think about the experience, and that baby, nearly every day. I often wish I had the courage to write about it, but it’s just so damn painful. Unlike the author, my decision wasn’t so black-and-white; there was a chance the baby could have been seriously afflicted by her birth defect or maybe not so seriously–the doctors couldn’t say definitively. That’s what I anguish over to this day. But it’s hard to imagine NOT to have had a choice. Through a small support group, I met a few “pro-life” women who had been through the same thing as me; they chose to rationalize their decision in a different way. A lot of people who so vehemently decry abortion (particularly second trimester) have never experienced that dreadful moment when the sonogram room becomes gravely silent and the doctor steps in to deliver the gut-wrenching, knee-buckling news that something is terribly wrong with your baby.

  35. Aftercancer says:

    I want to thank you for having the courage to share such a sad, sad story. I work in Early Childhood Intervention with babies under three years old with significant disabilities. We all work very hard with the families and children in our program and we are all pro choice for exactly the same reason.
    It is very easy for people who have never dealt with it to talk about how “special” these children are but they are not the ones setting up the feeding tube in the middle of the night, or suctioning out an airway or fighting to get the services that these children need paid for.
    Thank you for your honesty.

  36. RedKitten says:

    I think that what a lot of people keep forgetting is that pro-choice does not automatically equal being pro-abortion. It means just what it says: pro-CHOICE. As Shan said, nobody can really understand what it is like until they are there. And even then, two women going through the exact same thing might have very different outside circumstances that affect their decision. To take away a woman’s right to actually MAKE a decision is to utterly ignore the fact that we are all human, with different situations, different minds, and different experiences. For argument’s sake, let’s pretend that in the author’s case, abortion had been legally mandatory after the diagnosis. If she had actually wanted to carry to term instead, we pro-choicers would be fighting just as vehemently for her right to do so. What matters to us is not WHAT choice the woman makes — frankly, that is none of our darned business. What matters to us is that she is ABLE to make that choice. I cannot imagine anything more cruel than a woman in the author’s situation being forced by law or circumstance into one option or another, against her wishes. When it comes to difficult situations like an unplanned pregnancy or a pregnancy that comes with a devastating diagnosis, the decision really has to be between the woman, her partner (if she has one) and her physician. And they should be allowed to make that decision and choose what they deem best without having a bunch of strangers berate them, and without having to worry about some gun-toting anti-abortionist using them for target practice.

  37. Marj says:

    I don’t like abortion – but I am pro-choice.  Although it is not a choice I would make except under exceptional circumstances, I think that safe and medical is a better choice than the types of abortion that exists outside of hospitals.  Thank you for sharing your story – it was heart-rending, and an important view of the difficult circumstances under which these decisions are often made.  My poor aunt (who was never able to concieve & carry a child, she adopted 3), back in the 70′s was forced to carry a dead baby for several weeks.  During that time she laid in bed and cried until she couldn’t anymore.  I think forcing a woman to carry a dead baby is a form of torture.  She is a strong, happy woman now, but not all woman could have recovered from that.  Expecting every woman to be the same is ridiculous. 

  38. JohannesClimacus says:

    I don’t believe anyone here is necessarily equating “pro-choice” with “pro-abortion,” though admittedly the rhetoric of the “pro-choice” political camp can sometimes lead observers to draw that conclusion.
    With that said, the “pro-life” camp is not, in principle, concerned with discarding the difficulties women face when pregnant. Stories such as this one demonstrate that “flippancy” is by far not the default attitude of women who feel compelled to choose terminating a pregnancy. I believe, however, that those who consider themselves to be “pro-life” would question whether or not the difficulty of a particular situation, even one which is likely to wrench the hearts of those who hear/read about it, ought to shape social policy. In other words, there’s a much larger field of concerns which have to be taken into consideration. Many people don’t like to think about that, of course. It’s easier, from a pragmatic standpoint, to simply suspend public discourse on the complexities of any issue (including abortion) and simply devolve the matter into one of “personal choice.” It seems that is possible to do with abortion so long as we presuppose certain things such as the personhood of a fetus, the breadth and depth of “rights,” social stability, the existence (or nonexistence) of a public morality and, from there, whether that morality ought to be reaffirmed and enforced through law, etc. For those who identify themselves as “pro-choice,” the presupposed “answers” are rarely brought back out for discussion. Perhaps it’s not their fault. Careful minds from across the political spectrum have certainly called attention to the fact that it was ultimately the courts and not our political system (and the discourse it presupposes) which “resolved” the problem.
    As for the censorship issue, the “Flag For Abuse” feature invites abuse. When push comes to shove, the most liberally minded have no problem availing themselves of a bit of illiberality.

  39. Amanda B says:

    I am glad that the Babble editors do look back at the comments that other people “Flag For Abuse”. My comment has been erased and there was nothing abusive about it. I even sympathized with the author, but apparently, someone who read and/or contributed their own comments cannot handle reading another point of view. Pathetic…

  40. liberalintolerancereigns says:

    Could people please stop deleting comments just because they don’t like what’s in them? Many comments have disappeared, and none of them that I have seen have been “abusive.” An opinion that goes against the majority is not “abusive.”
    The irony, of course, is that those who are deleting these comments are undoubtedly from the liberal and so-called “tolerant” left. I thought “tolerant” was supposed to apply to ALL viewpoints, not just SOME viewpoints.
    Please let the rest of us have a voice, too.
    Amanda B, I saw your comment and thought that it was well-said. And non-abusive. =)

  41. trustwomen says:

    My friend experienced the same situation.  The diagnosis was at 22 weeks, every specialist and technician was consulted, and in the end there was really only one very painful answer. It was too late to legally terminate in her state.
    It is unfortunate that she had to fly to KS with her husband and face the crowds of protesters as she entered the clinic.  It is horrifying enough that she could not have this procedure performed where she lived, and recover with her family and friends, but to be met with such angry hateful people certainly made the situation all the more painful. 
    This is a painful reminder for me that I will fight hard to ensure the privacy of all people and defend the right to choose.

  42. patricia says:

    I am pro-choice in that I do not believe abortion should be illegal, but I am not in favor of abortion in any way, and the pro-choice rhetoric is a huge turnoff sometimes, with its insistence that all anyone is ever talking about is a ball of cells, an inconvenience to the pregnant woman, etc. The refusal to admit that proto-children are being killed is, to me, a distasteful aspect of the militant pro-choice movement. Anyone who has seen an 8 week ultrasound has seen a recognizably human living thing moving around in there, and to deny that abortion kills those things is to seem fundamentally unserious about why the debate affects so many so deeply. It isn’t just about choices in the abstract; it is truly about living things, even if those things may not have the same moral weight as already-born people.
    Yet the story told here is heartbreaking, as are some of the other stories of Dr. Tiller’s patients I have read. These stories are circumstances I hope never to have to live myself. Yet, these wanted children were not the majority of Dr. Tiller’s practice. See this link,, where Rachel Larrimore cites an article from the Kansas City Star in which a Tiller spokesperson said about 75% of his patients were teenagers who denied their pregnancies until it was impossible to hide them any longer. Does this change the moral calculus about abortion in a general sense? Should it? This sort of statistic is what leads to much farther reaching discussions, of birth control and sex ed, of teaching good choices that maybe won’t lead to these harder ones, of personal responsibility and morality, of societal and cultural mores that encourage or discourage good or bad behavior (and what behavior should earn those “good” or “bad” labels) and how to change those mores, if indeed they need changing.
    I wish the author all the best and I thank her for sharing her story. It is another dimension to the abortion debate, though I recognize that to the author, it is so much more than an abstract policy “debate.”

  43. mindyourbusiness says:

    Thank you so much for sharing, I can’t imagine having to make such a choice. I too was staunchly Pro-Choice before I had my little girl 5 months ago. I’m still Pro-Choice, but perhaps not as staunchly. I cannot imagine denying that beautiful little creature, who is so full of love and joy, an opportunity to live. However having a Level II ultrasound that let us know definitively that she was perfectly healthly played a role in that.
    I personally do not support abortions when the only thing preventing the fetus,baby,etc. from living a full and happy life is the abortion itself, but catastrophic test results such as those the author received are absolutely grounds for what is sometimes ‘the only loving action’ possible. So in the end I find that I am not pro-abortion, but I am most definitely Pro-Choice. It is imperative that women have the right to choose. Just because it’s not always the choice you or I would make is no reason to persecute these women and the few doctors willing to assist in what is undoubtedly the most painful decision of their lives. Judge not…

  44. ChiLaura says:

    Even if the deformed and aborted child is “wanted”, isn’t there still the inherent danger in providing such abortions (based on defect) that very soon we will be aborting or not aborting our children based on perceived quality of life? (“However having a Level II ultrasound that let us know definitively that she was perfectly healthly played a role in that,”as mindyourbusiness says, brings this to mind.) How long will it be before we’re able to diagnose a predisposition to, say, autism in the womb, and babies with this gene will be slaughtered by the thousands? The abortion rates for Down syndrome babies are currently at about 85-90%. Or something like cystic fibrosis, where an early death is certain, but “early” can mean well after 20 years of age. I guess that I don’t see much qualitatively “different” between aborting a baby who might live for a few days, months, or a year before dying (as in Trisomy 18) and aborting the types of “diseased” babies I just mentioned above. Do pro-choicers not think about this slippery slope? Do they dismiss it as “it won’t happen here”? I’m genuinely curious.
    Further, I think that there is something courageous and beautiful in carrying for as long as possible and birthing a child who has an early death sentence written into his DNA, and for getting to know that baby as much as possible before he is taken from the parents. I wonder, too, how much this could actually be a form of healing for the parents. At least one commenter above said that she thinks about her wanted, aborted child every day. Could things be different? I strongly, STRONGLY object to mindyourbusiness’s contention that abortion is “sometimes ‘the only loving action’ possible.”
    Marj, I don’t know what the situation with your aunt was, but I know of someone whose baby died in utero recently, and for some weird medical reason she had to carry the dead baby, too, for a time. I fail to see the connection between her carrying a dead baby and the debate at hand, unless there is a detail that you left out. I don’t know that any (sane) pro-lifer would say that she “should” carry that baby until her body naturally passed it, or anything like that.
    JohannesClimacus: “As for the censorship issue, the “Flag For Abuse” feature invites abuse. When push comes to shove, the most liberally minded have no problem availing themselves of a bit of illiberality.” Amen!

  45. mindyourbusiness says:

    First, let us be clear; it is not my contention that it was the only loving action. I was using the author’s own words (hence the quotation marks). In it’s entirety: “Of all the million and one things I wished I could be doing for this child, the only act of love circumstances allowed me to perform was this one”.
    Second, I find it really hard to believe that you can make no distinction between a child that is almost surely destined to live a few, short painful months and one that has autism. Although I suppose this alarmist attitude is typical of the extreme pro-life movement, which I’m assuming you subscribe to. You cannot possibly compare a potential parents reaction to the devastating news of Trisomy 18, CMV, and other horrible birth defects to finding out about a predisposition to autism. Slaughtered by the thousands? Give me a break.
    Lastly, finding out my daughter was healthy was a relief, but finding out otherwise would not have changed the outcome. I can promise you that even if I knew in advance she had down-syndrome or something similar, she would still be here. The issue is quality of life, not perfection. Though a child is wanted, it doesn’t mean they’re wanted to suffer. You think it’s courageous to carry as long as possible and birth a baby with an early death sentence, but I think some would call it selfish.

  46. ChiLaura says:

    myb: Sorry, I missed that quote from the article; ascribing the words to you was unintentional.
    Without clarifying what you mean by “extreme,” I can’t say whether I do or do not ascribe to that vein of the pro-life movement. Regarding quality of life issues: Do you consider Down syndrome to be a “horrible birth defect”? You personally may not, but the fact that so many Downs babies are aborted (hence, “slaughtered by the thousands”) seems to suggest that many people DO consider it to be terrible enough that they don’t want themselves or their children to live with it. I don’t know that I would consider Down syndrome and autism to be *that* far apart when speaking of quality of life issues, which is what makes me wonder if children who might (someday, given the science) be identified as having autism/a predisposition to autism wouldn’t be aborted.
    I’m sorry that you took my words so personally; I certainly wasn’t trying to speculate as to what you personally believe or don’t believe. I think that you read my post with a far harsher tone than I intended to convey. I’m actually interested in the question of the slippery slope. I advocate abortion under very, very narrow circumstances and it’s hard for me to view the issue from a more liberal pro-choice perspective.
    You’re right: some would call bearing a child with a fatal disease selfish; others don’t. And I think that it’s rare that, if you read any accounts of parents who choose such a path, you *would* actually call them “selfish.” One might say that their compassion is misplaced or that they’re stupid, or something along those lines, but if you read the story thru their eyes, I think that it’s difficult to call them “selfish.”

  47. wakeupplease says:

    i feel for this mother and other mothers whose dreams of a new baby are dashed by such horrible news. isn’t society strange? if a baby is born and then killed by its mother, she is accused of murder. but if the same baby is aborted, nothing. abortion is killing, there is no way around that. If the baby isn’t ‘alive’ then why do you have to kill it to get rid of it? Abortion is murder. people must see this.

  48. relaxedrevolutionary says:

    “I work in Early Childhood Intervention with babies under three years
    old with significant disabilities. We all work very hard with the
    families and children in our program and we are all pro choice for
    exactly the same reason.”
    I have a daughter with profound disabilities, and participated in Early Childhood Intervention services.  It disturbs me deeply that those assisting me in her care would hold the belief that she and I would have been better off had I had the opportunity to kill her before she was born.  That choice is not a choice to not have a child with that condition, rather, it is a choice to end the life of that child who has that condition, prior to her birth.  
    I can’t help but feel that the choice to have an abortion in these circumstances is an inherently uninformed choice, colored by doctors’
    liabilities and cold medical efficiency, without the love and
    connection between a mother and child to balance it.  Sure, that baby
    is wanted, but psychologically, she or he is still an abstract idea, and therefore, not fully represented.  There are some mothers who would choose euthanization for their children.  But not nearly as many as could choose late term abortion, especially with the support of the experts around them.
    As an agnostic, my views on abortion do not come from a dogmatic religious perspective.  I, like several who have commented, was pro-choice before my first pregnancy.  But seeing the ultrasound, experiencing the miracle of life first hand…  I cannot deny that that is a child – my child.  Whether I want it to be or not does not change that fact.  And I can’t help but reflect that my mother – a staunch supporter of abortion rights – never had the opportunity to see that early ultrasound when she was pregnant.
    I think the pro-choice/pro-life debate is a false dichotomy that distorts the real issues at hand.  An abortion is a homicide, and we already have a structure in which to determine whether a given homicide is justifiable or not.  I don’t think it is right that ending the life of a devastatingly disabled baby in utero can be considered under completely different terms than ending the life of that same baby with those same issues, after birth.  It’s just easier to be more ‘rational’ and pragmatic about it all when the reality of the situation hasn’t been fully revealed.
    To the author of this article, please understand that I do not dismiss your pain, or your thoughtfulness, or your courage.  I do not condemn you for your decision, though I may disagree with it.  What I condemn is the way that the abortion issue is taken so separately, lacking a fundemental consistancy with all other issues of taking life.  People often criticize the Catholic Church for taking such an extreme stance – cherishing life and forbiding even birth control (and the death penalty).  But I think we can learn something from their consistency.

  49. catmom says:

    Oddly enough, now my comment has been deleted.

  50. ChiLaura says:

    catmom, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to people deleting posts. Some pro-choice posts that essentially condone the author’s decision have been deleted, too, I’ve noticed. Strange.
    Wow, relaxedrevolutionary, what a great post, and what honesty. Your words bring to mind Peter Singer, the “ethicist” who basically argues that all people with disabilities should be euthanized. I fail to understand how he is much different than pro-choicers who say that it is okay to abort disbled fetuses; the only distinction is that he advocates euthanization after birth, which, presumably, many pro-choice advocates do not. Why, though, is the slippery slope argument so often ignored? I think that the response that “It won’t happen here” is naive, and you see this with clarity. Also, regarding your words about the Catholic Church: As you point out, at least they are consistent. The church takes very seriously the sanctity of life, all life, and this, not pragmatism, is what dictates their approach. I feel fairly confident that the church realizes that it would be more popular if it would just give in to pressure to promote birth control, but to do so would be a betrayal of their bottom line: Life is good and should not be taken by humankind. The issue isn’t ultimately about controlling women or about unrestrained child-bearing but about what it means to live in truth. I don’t agree with every jot and tittle of Catholic law, but we do have a lot to learn from them. Anyway, I really appreciate your honesty and clarity. Sadly, I think that they are somewhat uncommon these days.

  51. coloradoblue84 says:

    The problem i have with most pro-life advocates is simply they do not seem to be able to mind their own business. Being pro-CHOICE means exactly that, a person advocates others being able to CHOOSE what is best for themselves, and their families. The beauty of this stance is that while I may not agree with the circumstances surrounding a person’s decision to terminate a pregnancy, ITS NONE OF MY BUSINESS. That is their own choice that they have to make. And i fully and completely support each person being able to make their own choice. People above have made comments about other’s decisions to terminate genetically sick babies, or those that will not live past a few days or months, and i quote: “Further, I think that there is something courageous and beautiful in carrying for as long as possible and birthing a child who has an early death sentence written into his DNA, and for getting to know that baby as much as possible before he is taken from the parents.”Please be aware and cognizant to the fact that what you may see as “courageous and beautiful” may be cruel and unusual to another person, and while you may not agree with their choice, it is, again, none of your business and has nothing to do with you. You are not the pregnant person in these instances, and you do not have to make that decision. So please, before you hoist your opinions and ideals on other people, who most likely you have never met, nor will ever meet, just remember, its THEIR CHOICE, not yours.

  52. ChiLaura says:

    That was me that you quoted above. I fully realize that it may seem cruel and unusual to another person. What pro-choicers fail to understand, though, is that pro-lifers ultimately see abortion as the *murder* of an innocent victim, regardless of what other circumstances (such as deformity) that there may be. I think that I did write above, somewhere, that I recognize at least some degree of difference between aborting a disabled baby and aborting just because it’s “inconvenient,” or something like that. However, that doesn’t change the bare fact of what is going on: ending a human life. To tell pro-lifers to stand by, mind their own business and not say a word is, to their minds, like telling someone to stand by and ignore the abuse of a child or the genocide in Darfur because, hey, it’s someone else’s choice, not theirs. While you may not see it this way, many of us do. Asking us not to say anything and do what we can to defend unborn children is asking us to condone murder.

  53. Michelle DuBose says:

    I find it sad that a previous poster considered carrying a seriously impaired or ill child “beautiful”. If you have given birth to a child with a devastating illness or defect, then you can criticize (perhaps?) another mother who chose to terminate. Romanticizing the pregnancy, birth, and care of seriously ill children is just appalling. Sure, it takes courage, but it also takes courage to have an abortion–for whatever the reason.
    This article was heartbreaking. I felt pain for this mother and for what she went through. I do hope it gives other women the courage to talk about their experiences with the same issue.
    What is so bad is that we as society have our soapboxes we carry around just waiting for someone to say something so we can drop them to the ground, stand on them, and start preaching. Unless a person has gone through something similar to the mother in this article, then they really have no idea how difficult the situation is. What has happened to our capacity to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” before we criticize?

  54. myheartraced says:

    Great story. With my 3rd pregnancy with my now 6 month old baby..I had a blood test screen say I had a 1 in 60 chance of having a baby with Trisomy. I was panicked a few days later and a $700 ultrasound we found it to be a false flag. Baby Ronen was beautiful and awesome..I was 16 weeks at the time. For 4 days I struggled with what we would do. I researched like mad. The disease is horrid. The equivalent of letting a animal die an agonizing slow death or quickly releasing it from it pain. I was torn with the idea of going through the months with a baby that was going to die either in utero or after birth…most don’t survive birth. I am pro choice. I also thought of abortion…I felt that little guy swimming away in there like a cannon ball bouncing against the walls and thought how could such a strong swimmer have any disability? My gut finally dismissed all notions and I knew he was perfect. Thank all he was perfect in all ways. I still don’t know what choice I would have made if given the results you were. To the anti haven’t raised a highly diasabled child with Trisomy 18 it makes Downs look like a walk in the park. Of course those people you know are going to say what a joy their child is. What kind of a person wouldn’t speak kindly of their offspring? all children are a joy. If I had a disabled child all my time would have gone to that one childs needs, who would have cared for my other two? All the anit abortionist should go and adopt all the disabled children and see if they had any time left to hold up signs. You dedicate the rest of your life to them. You have nothing left for anything else. Close minded reactionist…look at the whole picture not just the parts you like.

  55. ldancer says:

    I’m 16 weeks pregnant right now. Last week, I had my genetic counseling appointment, to discuss my upcoming amnio. The genetic counselor told me that she had personally referred quite a few patients to Dr. Tiller, that his was the most professional of the few offices performing this service, and that his death had sent a shock wave through the medical community. She had one other doctor, she said, to whom she could send patients, but Tiller’s assassination has severely damaged women’s health care in this country.Dr. Tiller performed this service not just for women like the author of this piece, and their families, but also for children who had been impregnated by rape, girls so young that they sometimes did not even know that they were menstruating yet, girls for whom a pregnancy would not even be apparent until quite late in the game, and for whom childbirth would be dangerous at best. I’m sure someone would find the idea of these little girls carrying their rapists’ babies to term beautiful. But in the real world, it’s just heartache on top of heartache.Leaving aside these most extreme of cases, something I never hear addressed is the ethics of demanding that a woman carry a dead or sure-to-die baby to term. I certainly would not, and will not if that turns out to be the case for my pregnancy. I am grateful that there are people who can perform this service for women.Dr. Tiller’s assassination was an act of terrorism. We are poorer for it.On choice in general, I have to say that becoming pregnant has made me even more pro-choice than I was before. No one should have to be pregnant against their will, for any reason. You can argue all you want about when life begins, but the undeniable fact is that the woman is already alive, sovereign, with rights and responsibilities. Here’s another one: the discourse in this country is dominated by Christian thought. Not everyone in this country is Christian (and of course, not all Christian thought is anti-choice). Traditionally, Jews don’t believe that the soul enters the body until the first breath is drawn. Now, I’m not religious. But I am not from a Christian background, and I’m sick of the conversation being dominated by one religious group alone. The author was courageous for sharing her story. She didn’t have to. It’s none of our business. But she’s done a service, however lonely, by trying to provide some nuance, something the right wing attempts to silence.

  56. Manjari says:

    ldancer, I agree wholeheartedly with your comment.

  57. Alicia Rogers says:

    The simple fact is that what happens inside a person’s body *is their
    own business* and *their own choice*. Yes, a zygote/embryo/fetus is a
    baby, a baby in utero is a(n) zygote/embryo/fetus, but that baby is
    still something that is inside the mother, living off the mother, and
    hence part of the mother’s body. A woman’s uterus doesn’t suddenly
    become a separate thing when conception occurs. It is still *her*
    uterus. So anything within *her* uterus is a part of her. Since it is a
    part of her, it is up to her and *only* her what type of identity she
    gives to her uterus and baby (i.e. if the growing zygote/embryo/fetus
    is granted personhood, hence she decides to carry it to term, or if it
    is simply some cells inside her that have potential to become a person
    but it’s a process she doesn’t wish to allow to happen.) It is only up
    to *her* if she wishes to experience the roller coaster experience of
    pregnancy and child birth.
    I just don’t understand the view that every woman’s body is no longer
    her own when conception takes place. That there’s suddenly a red flag
    over her saying that she no longer has any control over her own body
    and that it’s suddenly community property where society has control
    over it. When a man ejaculates and it causes a conception his body is
    still his own. He may not be growing another body inside of himself,
    but wouldn’t it stand to reason that if the woman’s body is no longer
    her own because of a conception that the man’s is no longer his own
    because he contributed 50% to the DNA of the potential new life? That
    society now has the right to tell him what he can and cannot do?
    This all leads to the question of if a woman suddenly loses her own
    personhood once conception takes place. Does the potential baby mean
    more to society than the already living, breathing, independently
    living woman the conception took place in? Sure, the baby, if born,
    perpetuates the species, but with over 6 billion people in the world,
    that’s not a real issue for humanity. Does her right to sovereignty
    over herself disappear?
    In my opinion (and in my experience) a lot of pro-lifers view the world
    in terms of black and white. Life isn’t like that. It just isn’t.
    Abortion isn’t either. With 6 billion plus unique individuals living
    today, it’s absolutely impossible for everyone to fit into neat little
    boxes and follow the exact same rules. Abortion is legal in this
    country *for a reason*: To give access to safe abortions so women and
    girls would stop dying from unsafe “back alley” abortions. If abortion
    is made illegal once again there will still be women who want or need
    abortions, and they will go return to unsafe abortions to make it
    happen. It’s even happening today in areas where legal, safe abortions
    are near impossible to find! Is it really better to lose the life of
    the woman after an abortion? I would think that people who are pro-life
    wouldn’t want that any more than they want an abortion performed.
    In the end I think vehement anti-abortionists need to stop wasting so
    much of their time and energy on making abortion illegal and go live
    their lives. Go home and make their own choices for their own lives and
    do what they feel is right for *themselves*. Or at least instead of
    protesting outside of abortion clinics, focus on what they would like
    to see happen, which is pregnancies carried to term. Support the local
    adoption agencies and pregnancy centers, and maybe even (gasp!) help
    the pro-choice side stop any need for abortions by supporting programs
    *that work* in preventing unintended pregnancies like more effective
    birth control and comprehensive sex education (since abstinence
    programs outside of religions fail, and even the religious ones aren’t
    As for this article, it makes me so sad women have to go through this.
    I know two other women who have faced this awful choice and also chose
    to have medical terminations. They’re no less courageous than a woman
    who chooses to carry a terminally ill baby to term. They hurt just like
    any other mother who loses a baby after birth. They’re affected just as
    much. They have lost their child too. Remember that. They had already
    made the choice to give personhood to their growing baby. That baby was
    every bit as real and an individual as a baby carried to term is to its
    mother. They made the choice that they felt in their hearts was right
    for their child. It’s no different than having to make the choice about
    keeping a child on life support or continuing cancer treatment when
    they’re terminal or not. The only difference is this choice had to
    happen before birth.
    The two women I know, along with many others, have written a book
    that’s self-published and available on It’s called “Our
    Heatbreaking Choices”
    - copy and paste the link). I recommend everyone read it. Gain a new
    understanding of abortion in regards to medical terminations.
    I also recommend everyone watch the movies, “If These Walls Could
    Talk”, and most importantly “Vera Drake”. They both show the realities
    of what happens to women when abortion is done illegally.
    A woman is not a uterus. She is a living, breathing, thinking human
    being first and foremost. A conception inside of her never changes that.

  58. Alicia Rogers says:

    PS – Dr. Tiller’s murder will have devastating repercussions. There are only *2* doctors in the entire USA now who will do a medical termination past the point of viability. TWO. If they’re murdered also or decide to quit or reach the point of retirement, where will women and girls go who *need* an abortion past 22 weeks?!

  59. response to Alicia says:

    Guess those women who ‘need’ an abortion past 22 weeks will just have to keep their babies – shocker! I sincerely hope these remaining 2 murders go into immediate retirement or switch professions. Abortion is murder. I am not happy at all that Dr. Tiller was murdered. No one has the right to take the life of someone else. Maybe we should see Dr. Tiller’s death as a sign that life is a gift, not a choice. Abortion kills.

  60. Alicia Rogers says:

    So a woman who has a condition where she will die if she doesn’t terminate a pregnancy past 22 weeks simply has to die? A child who was raped and didn’t understand she was pregnant until past 22 weeks simply has to go through the whole ordeal of child birth and become a mother at a young age? A girl who is pregnant because of sexual abuse/incest and is too ashamed to tell anyone until past 22 weeks simply has to give birth to her abusers baby against her will? A woman like in the story these comments are attached to who has a child with a terminal disorder that isn’t found until past 22 weeks simply has to carry to term when she feels that the more humane thing for her child is to end the suffering before it starts?
    You have a very narrow and immature view of the world, “response to Alicia”. There is no ‘one size fits all’ scenario in the world. I’d bet you’re one of those people who, when faced with such a scenario, would think that your abortion was fine and justified but that all others are wrong. At least that’s the impression I get.
    And life is a choice. I can sit here right now and chose to keep living or chose to kill myself. I can chose to not kill a random person on the street or I can chose to do so. I can chose actions that protects my life and others’, or I can chose ones that would kill (i.e. drunk driving). 

  61. ldancer says:

    Here are two more facts the genetic counselor told me:1) It is far more safe for a woman to have a mid- or late-term abortion, than it is for her to carry a dead or non-viable fetus to term, and then give birth to it. Many complications can happen during birth. Ask yourself, O those who would cast stones and cry “Murder!”, what the real murder is here. It’s murder to abort a fetus who has anencephaly, and will not survive outside of the womb? I believe that it is soul murder to force anyone to carry a pregnancy they do not wish to. You may believe differently, so…go ahead and carry your pregnancies to term, and leave the rest of us alone. You do not have the right to make demands on anyone but yourself.2) These American Taliban who comprise the anti-choice movement even go after the March of Dimes. I was incredulous when she told me this. I asked her why. She said, “Because they encourage genetic counseling”.The people who perform this service are deeply decent, selfless men. The forces allied against them have no morals; they target their children, their families. One doctor’s family farm was razed to the ground. The names of their families, the addresses of their childrens’ schools, and more, are posted on the internet, underneath crude graphics of dripping knives. This is terrorism. Clinics where women receive prenatal care (and where non-pregnant women go for routine checkups) are bombed. This is terrorism, as sure as bombing airplanes and markets is terrorism. These people do not understand the real reasons why a woman would need to end a pregnancy. To those people I say, I sincerely hope that you, your daughters, your sisters and mothers, never have to find out what it’s like to need an abortion, and only be able to have one via coat hanger, pennyroyal tea, or a disinfectant pumped into your uterus through a rubber hose. Because in the real world, the one I live in, that’s what we will return to. Hemorrage, death, darkness. I used to go to that Planned Parenthood in Boston that was targeted by a gunman; I went there for pelvic exams in college, because I had no insurance. It was just my luck I wasn’t there that day, because that was the time period when I used that clinic. It wasn’t “an abortion clinic”. It was a women’s health care clinic. They did pelvic exams, routine blood tests, STD tests, gave out condoms, gave prenatal care to pregnant women. That jerk came in and murdered their receptionist, and destroyed a safe place where college students went for low-cost medical care.As I await the results of my amniocentesis, I am also anxious. If something is found to be wrong with my very wanted baby, I’m going to have to walk that phalanx of ignorant, violent religious fanatics. I hope that doesn’t happen.I find no “common ground”. There is none. This is womens’ business. This is not a religious matter (we aren’t all the same religion, or any religion). This is a matter of public health and private life. There is no one in the so-called “pro-life” movement I trust. They show one face to the public, and quite another to eachother. They do not care about the lives of women and girls.

  62. mommyagain says:

    My son was born in 2003 and we found out within a few weeks that he had an extremely rare and genetic metabolic disorder with no cure. Of the 50 known cases worldwide, all the children had died within the first few years of life – most had died before their first birthday. We were given a death sentence, but did everything in our power to make sure that our son was loved and given every possible advantage. We cherished every possible moment of our life with him and we didn’t regret any regrets when he passed away a month after his 3rd birthday. He taught us so much about life…and what it means to love another human being. We loved him with all our hearts and souls and nothing could prepare us for losing him…even though we knew that would be the inevitable outcome.
    Since the disease was genetic, there was a 25% chance that each pregnancy would be affected with the disease. Despite knowing how much joy our son brought us, we knew that we would terminate any future pregnancy should the tests come back positive. We became pregnant a little over a year after our son passed away…and when we got the results from our CVS test at 13 weeks, we were devestated to find out that our second baby was afflicted as well. It was the hardest decision we ever had to make, but we made the right decision for our unborn child and decided to end the pregnancy. Living in California, we are very lucky to have many doctors at our disposal, but we still found that there was a stigma attached to terminating a pregnancy after 13 weeks. I have always been pro-choice although I never expected to have to make the decision for myself. I was raised a Catholic and always thought that I would never willingly choose to have an abortion. But having been on both sides of the situation, I know that I could never tell someone else that they can or can’t have a child. Everyone’s circumstances are different and I don’t think that anyone who chooses to end a pregnancy does so flippantly.
    We are now expecting another baby boy within the next couple of weeks – the tests have come back negative and hopefully he will live a normal and healthy life. We miss our son every single day and wouldn’t change anything…we know the heartwrenching side of parenthood and the incomprehensible feeling of burying your own child and now we look forward to a different parenthood experience.
    Not everyone knows what it is like to raise a disabled child, not everyone knows what it is like to terminate a wanted pregnancy, not everyone is lucky enough to know the joy of “normal” parenthood. Since one person can’t claim to know all sides of the story, it’s best to allow a woman the right to make the correct choice for her and her situation. As women, we should lift and support each other instead of denouncing our choices or the way we mother our children. We need to love each other more.

  63. Voice of Reason says:

    Mommyagain, thank you so much for your intelligent, poignant and relevant post. I know I speak for many on this comments board when I wish you every happiness when your little boy arrives. You and your partner have clearly had more than your fair share of heartache and, as one of those women who really should be thinking more about lifting and supporting each other, I hope your life as his mum is filled with joy.

  64. response to Alicia says:

    Okay , Alicia, I have never had an abortion and I NEVER WOULD, no matter what. It is funny how when someone stands up for the unborn baby they are immediately branded ‘immature’ or as having a “narrow view of the world”. If someone faces a horrible pregnancy, then give the child up for adoption. Don’t punish the child for the sins of the parents. YOU are here because YOUR mother chose life.
    And if you did kill someone Alicia, would you be allowed to walk away from the murder and continue living your life? No, you would be charged and most likely sent to jail. But mothers who kill their babies are given support and comfort – nice. When did one life become more important than the other? When did killing babies so that grown women can live become a heroic thing to do??
    I don’t know how you can say that life is a choice – if you murder someone, YOU are chosing that they die – they aren’t chosing to die – they have chosen to LIVE. Just like unborn babies who are CHoOSING to live. It is their mothers who are choosing that they die. If someone chose to kill you or someone you love, would you just say, “Well, life is a choice, and I guess you chose to kill my loved one, oh well.”
    People who kill have no respect for life. It is as simple as that. They, like you Alicia, feel that as long as you are still here, what does it matter for the other person – you don’t feel the pain of death so it is okay. I feel sorry for you that you think life is so disposable. You must really be sad and alone, especially to sit around and think about how you could chose to kill yourself or someone else.

  65. A Little Embarrassed For You says:

    @response to Alicia
    …or maybe they call you ‘immature’ because of your juvenile writing style. Your post hasn’t exactly encouraged me to consider the POV of the pro-life movement because you’ve given me nothing to consider. In fact, it reads exactly like what someone with ‘a narrow view of the world’ would write. Ironic, huh? Or not.
    Seriously, Alicia takes the time to craft an eloquent, informative post and your response reads likes something a grade-schooler cobbled together. Obviously the subject matter makes you emotional but, if you’re going to go to the trouble of writing a post, it should make sense. Your argument lacks coherence, to say the least. How exactly are unborn babies are ‘choosing to live’? I don’t think you understand what the word ‘choose’ means.
    This was just plain weird.

  66. Voice of Reason says:

    @ Making the tougher choice
    The nuchal fold test is a SCREENING test. This means that one takes the test to decide whether to undergo invasive diagnostic tests such as CVS or amniocentesis.
    Therefore, the assumption that a false positive could result in a termination is simply invalid.
    The ultrasound technicians (sonographers) and physicians need special training and high-quality equipment to perform a nuchal fold ultrasound correctly, and they must be certified by the Fetal Medicine Foundation in London, the organization that currently sets the standards and provides the software that allows a doctor to evaluate your risk.
    I was lucky enough to have both my nuchal fold scans at the Fetal Medicine Centre in London and I find it very difficult to believe that someone who had undergone this certification process would advocate the termination of a pregnancy without first having a diagnostic confirmation of the ultrasound results.
    It should also be noted that the nuchal fold test is in wider use because its false positive rate is much lower than that of its predecessor, the ‘triple’ blood screening test.

  67. Alicia Rogers says:

    @ response to Alicia:
    Actually, I’ve experienced death. My dad died last year. I’ve known others who have died, including a little girl who died from cancer after her parents chose to no longer prolong her pain and stopped treatment when it was found her tumor was far too aggressive. But I’m not afraid of death like you apparently are. I accept death as a natural part of life, hence why I can talk about it candidly. I’ve also been highly suicidal, hence why I can talk about someone choosing to take their own life or not.
    And maybe it’s common for people to say that many pro-lifers are immature and have narrow views because they do. It’s not about standing up for *someone elses’* unborn child, it’s about your perception of the world. You and many pro-lifers view the world as black and white. Life isn’t like that. Ever. Having a wider view of the world means accepting that. It also means realizing that you could never make someone else’s decisions for them.
    You see unborn babies as inherently on equal footing as it’s mother. I don’t. That’s fine. However, I wouldn’t *force* anyone to have an abortion if they didn’t want to. I’m about *choice* and making sure everyone has a *choice*. You and rabid pro-lifers working to make abortion illegal are simply trying to make people live just like you when they’re not you. You’re trying to *force* your views on others. Granted everyone goes through a developmental phase where they’re completely self-centered and think their ideas should be followed by all, but most people experience that (and move past it) when they’re a child. Seems like there are those that get stuck in it.
    And just because you haven’t an abortion before doesn’t mean that that possibility might not come up in your life. Never say never.

  68. Alicia Rogers says:

    @response to Alicia:
    PS – About my mom and how I’m here because she chose to have me: Yes she did. But she had also had two abortions when she was younger after condoms broke. If it wasn’t for her making those choices, I wouldn’t be here either. So abortions don’t just end pregnancies, they make future ones possible.
    And that’s the key word: Choice. You’re alive because your mother *chose* to have you just like I am. I had the life I had and you had yours because our mothers *chose*. There are also people like myself who are alive today because their mothers *chose* to have abortions in their past until they were fully ready to be a mother. They got to *choose* when they had a baby. Again, I’m about protecting *choice* for all. Trying to make abortion illegal for all won’t make abortions go away. They’re only return to back alley abortions.

  69. Alicia Rogers says:

    Oh, and I’m happily married with a 2 year old I *chose* to have. I have a large extended family and friends all around the world. I am pro-death penalty because I am against the killing of innocent, *born* individuals. I am also supportive of those who kill in self-defense. I would kill to protect my son in a heartbeat just as I would try to protect others in mortal danger. Like I said, I have been highly suicidal before because of mental illness. I’m all kinds of shades of gray. Just sayin’.

  70. response to Alicia says:

    It is amazing to see how most of the negative comments about pro-life posts have nothing to do with the abortion issue at all, but simply attack the person posting, using words such as immature, juvenille, narrow, etc. I guess that people who pro-choice choose to name call and belittle others when they get defensive; not suprising seeing how you view the life of another as disposible and a ‘choice’. It is fine if you wish to attack my word usage or sentence structure. I don’t care to ‘convince’ you of anything, I am just stating the truth.
    Alicia, the abortions your mother had didn’t ‘make future pregnancies possible’ they killed your older siblings – from your explination of abortions, I am lead to believe that you think if a baby is aborted, it simply comes back again and again until the mother is ‘ready’ to have it. And it is fine to close your eyes and pretend that the unborn baby isn’t a human, or isn’t ‘choosing to live’ as one mocker stated. Pro-choice people view abortion as the great ‘do-over’ button in life. Get pregnant but don’t want the baby? Just abort it and you can start over! If you don’t respect life, if you can’t see that a baby is alive at conception, that abortion is murder, then you can’t see how wrong it is because you are blind to the truth.
    Just answer this for me if you can. If a mother gives birth to a 24 week old baby who survives and then, minutes after the birth puts the baby in a garbage bag and throws it in the trash because she is young and doesn’t want the baby, what happens to her when the baby body is found? Now say instead, this same young mother gets a late term abortion at 24 weeks, what happens to her?
    I am fine with the insults that you throw at me; I am proud to stand up for the defenseless unborn babies who can’t speak for themselves yet but NEED someone to speak for them. And just so you know, I am a young single mother who is raising my baby and it is tough, but I made a choice when I decided to sleep with his father – that was my ‘woman’s choice’. You all need to grow up and realize that just because you are older, doesn’t make the young and unborn all less deserving of the right to life then you do.

  71. jojo44 says:

    Wow. I had a scare with possible Trisomy 18 with my baby as well. It was horrible. We talked to the geneticist after a frantic 30 minute wait and she said that everything would be OK. I am one of those (hated on all sides) pro-choice anti-abortion people. I always thought that I would never consider it but I did not judge others for their choice. Sitting in that waiting room and knowing what it meant to possible give birth to a baby with this disorder, I questioned everything. God bless you.

  72. Alicia Rogers says:

    If a woman gives birth to a baby then kills it, it’s murder. Once the child’s placenta disengages from the uterus and the child takes a breath of air, our society views that child as a separate entity. A good example of this is the Laci Peterson case. They couldn’t charge Scott Peterson with the murder of his son *until* they ruled that the baby had taken a breath and his lungs were filled with air prior to his death. If the baby had died in utero without taking a breath, by law they couldn’t charge Scott Peterson with the baby’s murder. Hence why an abortion at 24 weeks isn’t considered murder. It’s all about personhood. The simple fact is the only child *you* can grant personhood to is your own. Or, in simple language, the only child you can speak up for IS YOUR OWN. So mind your own damn business.
    Oh, and I don’t have some idiotic view that when a woman has an abortion the same child comes back over and over until it’s born. That’s just stupid. If you had actually comprehended what I wrote, you would’ve realized that. If my mom wouldn’t have had those two abortions, I wouldn’t exist period. Those conceptions happened with some completely different guy she later broke up with. If she had had them she wouldn’t have moved to the city where she met my dad and gotten pregnant with me. Simple as that. And those weren’t my older siblings. They were never born. They had the *potential* to be born, but they weren’t. They were never a separate, independently living person.
    And you still haven’t explained how a developing baby can ‘choose to live’. How? It doesn’t have a functioning brain for much of the development (the most growth happens in the last month or so), and even when born babies don’t have reasoning skills. It’s plain fact.
    Before you moan about how ‘negative’ people who are pro-choice are, look in a mirror dear. You came after me. I’ve only been responding in kind. If you want to stand beyond reproach, think about what you do before you do it. Not to mention that *your* truth is only *your* truth. It’s not universal. But since you’re so smug about how righteous you are and self-sacrificing, I know you’ll never understand. You’ve probably never seen much of the world beyond the little bit you’ve lived in your whole life or from what others have told you, so I guess it’s not a surprise you can’t look beyond your own nose at the reality of the world. Whatever.
    By the way, your choice to have sex outside of marriage and your choice to have your baby are also choices I would fight for. Remember that if it wasn’t for the same pro-choicers you think find life so disposable, you would be shunned by your community and you probably would’ve been forced to adopt your child out even if you wanted to keep it. You also would’ve been sent to a special home for unwed moms to have the baby and then return home like nothing happened. Because that’s what happened until barely 40 years ago when the Feminist movement started, and pro-choicers started fighting for reproductive rights. Not only did they work to make abortion legal, they also worked to make birth control available, premarital sex acceptable, and single motherhood okay. You should be grateful for your ability to make CHOICES about your reproduction.

  73. catmom says:

    Regarding the comment that a woman facing a “horrible pregnancy” should just give the child up for adoption, let me say how unlikely it is that one would find adoptive parents for a severely disabled child, or one who won’t live past infancy and will spend a short life of suffering. I’m slightly familiar with the case of a woman who had an older sick child die of an inherited illness, had a younger, healthy child, and was seeking adoptive parents for her ill fetus. I’m familiar with at least one foster mother who has devoted herself to these kinds of cases – she was spotlighted in the news and given a cruise one time for Mother’s Day. But that’s because she is an incredible exception. The pools of adoptive parents are generally not made up of people who want to throw themselves at this situation.

  74. Anonymous MD says:

    Alicia said “It doesn’t have a functioning brain for much of the development (the most growth happens in the last month or so), and even when born babies don’t have reasoning skills. It’s plain fact.”
    I would just like to clarify this comment, as it is incorrect. Fetal brain function begins at around the 7th week of gestation. If the brain was not functioning in the fetus, the development of vital organs, including the heart and lungs, would cease. The brain of the fetus controls movement, growth, and heart rate while in utero.
    Bioethicist, Baruch Brody, has stated that full hummanness begins when the brain starts functioning, which can be first detected in a fetus at 40-43 days after conception.
    As far as the comments regarding the pro-choice movement and the acceptance in society of premarital sex and single mothers, studies show that it was the pro-life movement that helped promote the concept of single mothers, giving pregnant woman the support they needed to keep, not abort, their child for fear or social stigmatism.
    Alicia, it seems as if you have some unresolved issues concerning the abortions in your family history, as you come across as very hostile in your posts. Perhaps you would benefit from counseling of some sort to help you deal with your aggression.
    These posts have been very intersting to read, and as a professional, I have not commented, but I felt the need to clarify some of the incorrect points that were raised.

  75. Alicia Rogers says:

    Anonymous MD – Sorry, but I don’t have unresolved issues regarding what my mom did in *her* past. If you had actually read everything I wrote, I was responding to a very annoying person who had responded to my first post, then engaged me in a back and forth. Hence why they were all directed at her. So if I come off as “aggressive”, it’s because I don’t handle repeated stupidity well. I’m sarcastic and snarky, but not aggressive. But I’m not surprised the suggestion for counseling was only directed towards me since there’s a clear bias going on in your post. Gotta stand by your buddies, huh?
    As for brain function, it’s functioning, but on a very primitive level. A embryo/fetus *doesn’t* have reasoning skills. Fact. It doesn’t think. Fact. It is in a parasitic state. Fact. Just because *one* bioethicist says that “full humanness” begins when the brain starts to function doesn’t make it universal truth. I guarantee that there are other bioethicists that would argue that point, especially since there are plenty of animals with brains who aren’t automatically considered “human” because they have a functioning brain.
    And as for the pro-life movement overall being supportive of single motherhood – that’s true to a level, yet there’s still a vast majority (that are also highly religious) that preach abstinence and will shun women who have sex outside of marriage. The simple fact that many of them consider premarital sex a ‘sin’ in and of itself negates the view that they are the ones who started the acceptance of single motherhood. If that was true, then why didn’t it happen *before* Roe vs. Wade instead of the stigmas they attached to it? Why is it that many of the pro-life people would encourage a woman to keep a child yet bitch when she goes on welfare or uses medicare? Silly me, but I would imagine that the pro-lifers would be fighting tooth and nail for a universal health care system along with comprehensive child care instead of there being a few little places where moms can get some help along with second-hand clothes, furniture (that might not be safe), and talking-tos? Where is the therapy for after adoptions?
    I’m not expecting a comprehensive, intelligent response to this. Why do that when it’s so much easier to tell me I’m “aggressive” and need counseling? Or that I and others are ‘picking’ on someone. All I’ve desired from these types of online discussions is an intelligent, well thought out response from a pro-lifer, one that doesn’t resort to insults or unsubstanciated claims or close-minded, regurgitated sayings.

  76. Alicia Rogers says:

    One last question: Where’s the “aggressive” comment for all of the other comments about how the ‘liberals’ are the ones that caused other comments to be deleted? Or for others that clearly became aggressive in their posts?
    Guess I’m just confused as to how I’m the only one to warrant a comment about my apparent “aggression”.

  77. BabbleComment says:

    Alicia Rogers states: All I’ve desired from these types of online discussions is an intelligent, well thought out response from a pro-lifer, one that doesn’t resort to insults or unsubstantiated claims or close-minded, regurgitated sayings.
    Alicia, I am a proud pro-life supporter. I could give you thousands of reasons why abortion is wrong, but when someone is as liberal as you appear to be, no amount of facts or statistics will change your view point. Every one of your ‘facts’ are regurgitated sayings that pro-choicers use over and over again. And you are receiving intelligent well thought out responses – you stated in a post that fetus do not have a functioning brain, you were proven wrong, and then you back track to say, okay, well it is functioning, but on a primitive level, so it doesn’t count. This is a typical liberal tactic, to state something and then when proven wrong, backtrack and ‘change’ what they are really trying to say. You do seem to be aggressive, using ‘stupidity’ to describe the posts of a previous poster; is it necessary to insult someone because they do not support your viewpoint? There are time in life when it is black and white – and life and death is one of them. A human life begins at conception. If you would like to close your eyes and pretend that this is not true, that is your decision.
    In my own humble opinion, I believe that those who are pro-choice are still not at ease with the decisions they make when it comes to abortion – why else would the author of this article use a fake name, instead of her own name? I have seen no other authors use fake names, even when they are discussing hard topics, such as an illegal home birth, or single parenthood.
    Alicia, you have been given intelligent, well thought out responses from pro-lifers. Just because their responses do not reflect your line of thinking, does not mean that they are not intelligent or well thought out. People like you will never see an argument from an opposing side as being intelligent because to you, it means defeat.
    Perhaps one day your clouded judgement will clear and you will see the truth that abortion is wrong; but until then, it seems that you will constantly deal with an inner struggle of defending what you know is not right.

  78. Alicia Rogers says:

    Ah, again, nothing except what I’ve said or done ‘wrong’. I love how the old fall back of me being so ‘liberal’ has caused me to say the same ‘ole ‘liberal’ things. Yet never once I’ve sat here and said ‘oh, you crazy conservatives!’ 
    I don’t know how I’ve had intelligent responses when I’ve only responded to (now) three people. The first one, ‘response to Alicia’ wasn’t well thought out or intelligent. Women with difficult pregnancies should just have the baby and put it up for adoption? So there are really people out there that will adopt a Trisomy 18 baby? I highly doubt it. And a mother with other, living children should just continue the pregnancy that will kill her without thinking about what her other children need? Not everyone would disregard their living children like that.
    Then we just went back and forth.
    About the ‘Anonymous MD’, 1) I have no clue if that’s really a doctor, and 2) all that poster said was that the brain was functioning (and I agreed since I was specific in my previous post though it *is* on a primitive level; what newborn do you know that has higher level reasoning and cognitive skills?) and 3) the poster quoted *1* bioethicist as saying ‘humanness’ begins when the (primitive) brain begins. Oh, and that I apparently have issues from things that happened years before I was even conceived. (Does that mean I have issues from everything that happened in the world or my family before I was born? Um, no. It’s not logical.)
    Then there’s you, again not giving me anything other than a “You’re wrong you crazy liberal” speech, plus saying I’m aggressive.
    So that’s 3, 1-2-3, people I’ve had contact with since I posted my original post. Out of the 3, none have given me any intelligent answers, especially in regards to my questions in my first post. None of you. So how am I being judemental and blind and all that jazz when I’m only trying to engage in an honest dialogue in hopes that *someone* who is pro-life will stop talking gibberish and make some sense?
    So I challenge you, BabbleComment, to point out exactly where these well thought out answers to me are, and I will freely admit that I was in the wrong. I also challenge you to list all of your reasons, though scientific reasons would be much more embraced than anything rooted in theology. Up to it? Is anyone up to it?

  79. Alicia Rogers says:

    About the ‘stupidity’ thing: I call it how I see it. Not because she disagrees with me, but because of how she’s presented herself. If she’s insulted, okay. I could sit here and cry about how I’m being ‘insulted’ by being called aggressive and being described as some sort of liberal sheep, but I’m not. It’s puzzling, but whatever. But I haven’t sat here and called every single person here ‘stupid’ who hasn’t agreed with me. I have pro-life friends I would never call stupid simply because they present themselves intelligently. But I don’t suffer fools gladly, and that one poster was, IMO, a fool.
    Oh, and considering I support the death penalty and gun rights and some other ‘conservative’ stances, how I can I be oh so ‘liberal’? Hmm? I’m a middle of the road gal. My voter registration has me as ‘independent’. So sorry to burst your bubble, but you’re very wrong about that.

  80. Alicia Rogers says:

    Lastly, to beat a dead bush:FETAL BRAIN &

    Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D.
    Brain Research Laboratory,


    The human brainstem is fashioned around the 7th week of gestation and
    matures in a caudal to rostral arc thereby forming the medulla, pons,
    and midbrain. The medulla mediates arousal, breathing, heart rate, and
    gross movement of the body and head, and medullary functions appear
    prior to those of the pons which precede those of the midbrain. Hence,
    by the 9th gestational week the fetus will display spontaneous
    movements, one week later takes its first breath, and by the 25th week
    demonstrates stimulus-induced heart rate accelerations. As the pons,
    which is later to mature, mediates arousal, body movements, and
    vestibular and vibroacoustic perception, from around the 20th to 27th
    weeks the fetus responds with arousal and body movements to
    vibroacoustic and loud sounds delivered to the maternal abdomen. The
    midbrain inferior-auditory followed by the superior-visual colliculi is
    the last to mature, and in conjunction with the lower brainstem makes
    fine auditory discriminations, and reacts to sound with fetal heart
    rate (FHR) accelerations, head turning, and eye movements–around the
    36th week. When aroused the fetus also reacts with reflexive movements,
    head turning, FHR accelerations, and may fall asleep and display rapid
    eye movements. Thus fetal-cognitive motor activity, including auditory
    discrimination, orienting, the wake-sleep cycle, FHRs, and defensive
    reactions, appear to be under the reflexive control of the brainstem
    which also appears capable of learning-related activity.


    It is now well established that the human fetus is capable of some
    degree of behavioral complexity. In fact, as early as the 9th week of
    gestation the fetus is able to spontaneously move the extremities,
    head, and trunk (de Vries, Visser, & Prechtl, 1985). It has also
    been suggested that the near term fetus may be endowed with some degree
    of cognitive capability (e.g., Hepper & Shahidullah, 1994;
    Kisilevsky, Fearson & Muir, 1998). Cognition has been inferred
    based on alterations in fetal heart rate (FHR) and habituation to
    airborne sound (Kisilevsky & Muir, 1991), response-declines to
    vibroacoustic stimuli (Kisilevsky et al., 1998; Kuhlman, Burns, Depp,
    & Sabagha, 1988), and what appears to be neonatal preferences for
    the maternal voice as well as melodies and stories presented up to six
    weeks prior to birth (DeCasper & Fifer, 1980; DeCasper &
    Spence, 1986; DeCasper, Lecanuet, Busnel, Granier-Deferre &
    Maugeais, 1994; Lecanuet, Granier-Deferre, & Busnel, 1989).

    As will be detailed below, the behavior of the fetus and newborn is
    likely a reflection of reflexive brainstem activities which are
    produced in the absence of forebrain-mediated affective or cognitive
    processing, i.e. thinking, reasoning, understanding, or true
    emotionality (Joseph, 1996a, 1999; Levene, 1993; Sroufe, 1996). It is
    the much slower to develop forebrain which generates higher order
    cognitive activity and purposeful behaviors, and which is responsible
    for the expression and experience of true emotions including pleasure,
    rage, fear and joy and the desire for social-emotional contact (Joseph,
    1992, 1996ab, 1999; MacLean, 1990).

    At birth and for the ensuing weeks, the forebrain is so immature that
    its influences are limited to signaling distress in reaction to hunger
    or thirst; a function of the immature hypothalamus (Joseph, 1982, 1992,
    1999) in conjunction with the midbrain periaqueductal gray (e.g.
    Larson, Yajima, & Ko, 1994; Zhang, Davis, Bandler, & Carrive,
    1994). Although various limbic nuclei become functionally mature over
    the course of the first several postnatal months and years (Benes,
    1994; Joseph, 1992, 1999), the neocortex and lobes of the brain take
    well over seven, ten, and even thirty years to fully develop and
    myelinate (Blinkov & Glezer, 1968; Conel, 1939, 1941; Flechsig,
    1901; Huttenlocher, 1990; Yakovlev & Lecours, 1967).

    It is rather obvious that the neonate is able to scream and cry and can
    even slightly lift the corners of the mouth as if smiling. However,
    these do not appear to be true emotions (Sroufe, 1996; however, see
    Izard, 1991). In fact, smiling, as well as screaming and crying can be
    produced from brainstem stimulation even with complete forebrain
    transection or destruction (Larson et al., 1994; Zhang et al., 1994;
    reviewed in Joseph, 1996a). Hence, neonatal and premature infant
    “smiling” or distress reactions to noxious stimulation (e.g. heel
    lance) are also likely brainstem mediated, particularly in that they
    may be triggered in the absence of any obvious stimulus source and
    following forebrain destruction or lack of development (anencephaly).
    However, as brainstem maturation continues in a caudal-rostral arc
    (Debakan, 1970; Langworthy, 1937), at term and over the following weeks
    and months, the immature hypothalamus (which sits atop the midbrain),
    and thus the forebrain, increasingly contributes to and gains control
    over these behaviors (Joseph, 1992, 1999).

    The progression in behavioral complexity that begins with spontaneous
    fetal movements and which culminates with presumed preferences for the
    sound of mother’s voice, also appear to reflect maturational events
    taking place in the brainstem, followed by forebrain structures.
    Indeed, the brainstem is first fashioned around the 33rd day of
    gestation (Bayer, 1995; Marin-Padilla, 1988; Sidman & Rakic, 1982)
    and nearly completes its cycle of development and myelination around
    the 7th gestational month (Gilles, Leviton, & Dooling, 1983;
    Langworthy, 1937; Yakovlev & Lecours, 1967). However, in contrast
    to the forebrain, the brainstem is incapable of cognition such as
    reasoning, comprehension, or thought (Joseph, 1996c), but instead
    reflexively reacts to a variety of stimuli in an exceedingly complex,
    albeit stereotyped fashion (Blessing, 1997; Cohen, Rossignol &
    Gillner, 1988; Cowie, Smith, & Robinson,1994; Steriade &
    McCarley, 1990).

    (The rest of the study is here:
    Just to show I don’t pull random things out of my behind.

  81. babblecomment says:

    In Support of the Fetal Brain Functioning 4. Indisputable Medical Evidence – the Unborn baby is a Human BeingTime Magazine and Rand McNally’s Altlas of the Body states, “In fusing together, the male and female gametes produce a fertilised single cell, the zygote, which is the start of a new individual.” 7
    The Official Senate report on Senate Bill 158, the “Human Life Bill”, summarised the issue this way: “Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being – a being that is alive and a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings.”8
    Everything that determines the individuality and originality of a person is established at conception. The first single cell contains the entire genetic blueprint in all its complexity.

    The heart starts beating between 18 and 25 days.

    Electrical brainwaves have been recorded at 43 days on an EEG. If the absence of a brainwave indicates death, why will pro-abortionists not accept that the presence of a brainwave is a confirmation of life?

    The brain and all body systems are present by 8 weeks and functioning a month later.

    At 8 weeks, the baby will wake and sleep, make a fist, suck his thumb, and get hiccups.

    At the end of 9 weeks, the baby has his own unique finger prints.

    At 11-12 weeks, the baby is sensative to heat, touch, light and noise. All body systems are working. He weighs about 28g and is 6-7.5 cm long.

    He is fully developed before his mother’s pregnancy is even noticeable. This is the age of baby, that the government is saying can be killed for any reason whatsoever, without a waiting period for the mother to consider her decision.
    From conception, the new person conceived is as deserving of the full protection of the law as any other person.

  82. puasamanda says:

    Boy, oh boy, I have stayed away from this discussion so far, because it is so fraught with emotion. I have followed every comment, however, and I can no longer resist piping up with an opinion.
    This whole discussion has deteriorated into a discussion on abortion in general, and I would like to bring it back to the original point, which was a second term abortion performed because of a diagnosis in the fetus which was not compatible with life. Regardless of whether or not a fetus is a human life, started at conception, or a parasitic life form (i.e., “cluster of cells” so often referred to in pro-choice circles), is a moot point in THIS discussion. In fact, the author of the original article clearly believed that her fetus was a “baby,” and indeed referred to the fetus as a “much-wanted baby.”
    However, when a diagnosis is handed down which is not compatible with life or viability, a decision must be made. In fact, I see it as no different than when a family is forced to choose whether or not to continue life support for a loved one who cannot live any other way. I would never vilify a family for making a decision to remove a loved one from life support, if that loved one’s condition/diagnosis is one of non-viability.
    I was in middle school with a 12-year old girl who suffered a terrible head injury in a skiiing accident, and was pronounced brain dead at the hospital later that night. The medical personnel made it very clear that she would never recover. Her family decided to remove her from life support after several days of prayer and reflection, and her death greatly affected everyone who knew her. It was a tragedy, pure and simple. I would defend her parents’ right to make that decision, and I would challenge anyone to accuse them of “murdering” or “killing” their daughter…which is exactly what so many in this discussion are accusing the author of doing. I personally do not see a difference between the two decisions. They are both cases of the parents making a decision to end their child’s suffering, to end their family’s suffering and worry, and to move forward in the grieving process. Both situations are tragedies which call for unthinkable (for me, anyway) decisions to be made. I support the decisions wholeheartedly, and can only hope and pray that I would never be faced with making one like them.
    As a side note, I would point out (for babblecomment) that it in no way makes your position more teneble to post quasi-scientific studies which have clearly been published on a Christian, pro-life website. It reeks of bias, as it is very difficult to believe that a site that like would publish anything that was not biased to it’s own position.

  83. babblecomment says:

    Puasamanda, you can’t compare a family taking a brain dead girl off life support to an abortion. Of course they didn’t kill their little girl – she was being kept alive by machines. But a baby who is aborted is not being kept alive by machines – for the nine months of their gestation, they are being kept alive by their mothers, who have been given the duty of carrying them to term. Fortunately, for your middle school friend, there are laws that would prevent her parents from causing undue harm or terminating her life for selfish or unfounded reasons, or simply because they didn’t want to suffer anymore. If she was not brain dead, but simply in a coma, there would be protests and upset if they tried to take her off any life support (remember Terri Shirvo?). Unfortunately, for unborn babies, no such laws exist; their parents can do whatever they want to them; including partial birth abortions, which are inhumane and cruel, to say the least.
    The mother in the main story who aborted her child in the second term due to an unfavorable diagnosis made a decision, that, as a supporter of life, I do not agree with. The article I posted contains factual information that, regardless of where it has been compiled or who publishes it, has been scientifically proven. YOUR post reeks of bias, as you obviously have joined the long line of pro-choice supporters who feel the need to attack others to hide your own insecurities about your position on abortion.
    It is hopeless to continue on with the back and forth of these posts; those who are pro-choice will never see the light; no matter what is presented to them supporting the pro-life issue, they will find fault with, as they defend themselves by putting others down or using insults to try and make themselves appear superior.
    In the end, it is the simple fact of life vs. death. Just think of all the wonderful men and women who are not here because they were aborted. So many people live wonderful lives with disabilities that others are have been aborted for having. When did the life of one human being become more important than another? A mother’s first and most important job is to protect and nurture her child; not kill it. Why this is so difficult to understand is a mystery. Just know that if you are reading this, you mother loved you enough to not abort you. DOesn’t everyone deserve the same?

  84. puasamanda says:

    babblecomment: I am not comparing the decision to remove someone from life support to any old abortion…I am comparing it to the specific one represented in the article. Neither am I arguing that this baby was not a human being. I simply stated that this diagnosis is one which is not compatible with life, very similar to a diagnosis in an older child or adult which leaves a family to face a decision to keep their loved one alive artificially or not at all. I understand that you do not agree with the author’s decision. I simply stated that I do, and why. It is a matter of opinion.
    As for the article you posted, I am not arguing that, either. I am genuinely explaining that it is very difficult to argue to a pro-choice person using anything that has been posted or published on a Christian site. I am not saying that the article is wrong, just that because of it’s source, and the fact that it is an editorial/opinion article – it cannot help but have the appearance of being more biased than scientific. That is always difficult to defend, just as it is difficult to defend when a pro-choice person posts an article arguing the other side from something like, oh…the Pro-Choice Forever Group or something. Since biology, theology, medicine, law, and philisophy have not conclusively proven one way or another the “humanity” of a fetus, we are left with only opinion. Posting someone else’s opinion to support your own opinion (on either side!) and calling it irrefutable scientific evidence is a very big stretch.
    As for this: “Just think of all the wonderful men and women who are not here because they were aborted.” Well, that statement is referred to in debate and argument as a “slippery slope” argument, because (among other flaws) it can so easily be dismissed by stating the opposite. For instance, just think of all the horrible people who might not have been here, of only they had been aborted. I can certainly think of a few. Neither position is defendable, however, because they assume too much without proof.
    Also, I can assure you that I have no insecurities whatsoever about my position on abortion. I have my opinion, and I am very happy with it.
    You have stated several times in previous posts, including your last one, that pro-choice people resort to insults and “putting down others” to make themselves or their argument seem superior. I am genuinely sorry you feel that way, and hope that I have not insulted you. However, the last two sentences in your reply to me seem to equate the choice not to abort with maternal love…directly implying that women who don’t agree with you don’t have that love. That is incredibly insulting, especially to women like the author. If you wish to not be insulted, it would help to avoid insulting others.

  85. Voice of Reason says:

    Well said, puasamanda. Thank you.

  86. isupportbabblecomment says:

    Puasamanda, how is it loving to kill your child? That is sounding very “Andrea Yates-like. If a mother loves her child she will not kill it. Abortion saves only the mother – not the child.

  87. puasamanda says:

    isupportbabblecomment: I am admittedly very confused about the question you posted. I simply stated that it is offensive to accuse the author of not being a “loving” mother, or feeling some deficit of maternal love, because she terminated a much-wanted pregnancy after a devastating diagnosis. That seems to be the point most missed in this discussion – the diagnosis. The diagnosis in this case is central to any discussion about it, and yet many people seem to be forgetting that fact entirely.
    Comparing the author’s experience to Andrea Yates is a stretch of the imagination that I just cannot comprehend in any way. Andrea Yates drowned her healthy children. The author terminated a pregnancy only after receiving a diagnosis which is in no way compatible with life. Has anyone who wants to make a “murderer” out of her actually researched anything about Trisomy 18?
    We are talking about a condition which is almost universally deadly, the majority of deaths occuring in utero. For those babies who manage to make it to birth, there are multiple heart defects (requiring multiple surgeries, in most cases), kidney malfunction, severe and painful physical deformity (including part of the intestines being located outside the body, hyper-developed muscle tone resulting in painfully clenched limbs, pockets of fluid on the brain resulting in constant pressure and pain, and hernia). I don’t know how many times one has to say it – this is a devastating diagnosis. It is not only a death sentence for the child almost universally, but for as long as the child DOES live, it is a “pain and suffering” sentence. Yet some would compare the author to a murderer, simply for choosing to spare her child from this? You would agree with those who say that she did not love her child? It boggles my mind.

  88. isupportbabblecomment says:

    Uh, puasamanda, do your homework. Trisomy 18 is not an immediate death sentence for ALL babies, and those who do live to birth are not always in pain…if you want to have an educated discussion, get your facts straight. What Is Trisomy 18?
    Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome, is a condition which is caused by a chromosomal defect. It occurs in about 1 out of every 3000 live births. The numbers increase significantly when early pregnancy losses are factored in that occur in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy.
    Unlike Down syndrome, which also is caused by a chromosomal defect, the developmental issues caused by Trisomy 18 are associated with medical complications that are more potentially life-threatening in the early months and years of life. 50% of babies who are carried to term will be stillborn, with baby boys having higher stillbirth rate than baby girls.
    At birth, intensive care admissions in Neonatal units are most common for infants with Trisomy 18. Again, baby boys will experience higher mortality rates in this neonatal period than baby girls, although those with higher birth weights do better across all categories.
    Some children will be able to be discharged from the hospital with home nursing support for their families. And although less than 10 percent survive to their first birthdays, some children with Trisomy 18 can enjoy many years of life with their families, reaching milestones and being involved with their community. A small number of adults (usually girls) with Trisomy 18 have and are living into their twenties and thirties, although with significant developmental delays that do not allow them to live independantly without assisted caregiving.

  89. puasamanda says:

    isupportbabblecomment: I did do my homework, on the same site you did, it appears – and then some. My facts are straight, and you posted the same information I did, if you would carefully re-read. Did you read the site carefully as well, like I did, and check out the physical deformities which come with Trisomy 18? You know, the ones that require multiple surgical interventions, and the ones that cause continuous pain and discomfort? Have you ever had to hand over a day-old child for what will be the first of several heart surgeries? How about having to try to comfort a baby with kidney failure, when that baby cannot know what is happening…only knows that he or she is sick and in pain? How about having to try to comfort a baby who has swelling and fluid on the brain, which causes continuous, untreatable (without brain surgery) migraine, and seizure disorders? I have known a baby with heart defects, and I have known an adult with kidney failure, and I myself had brain surgery – twice – for cancer which caused chronic, excruciating migraine and seizures.
    An immediate death sentence for all babies? No…just 90% die before their first birthday. I don’t like those odds, but perhaps you are a gambler at heart, and think of it differently.

  90. tired of judgemental fools says:

    Wow, some “Dr” you must be . . . please let us know where you practice, so that we, along with all our friends and families can avoid your office like the plague!

  91. Jane Roper says:

    Not going to jump into the fray here. Just wanted to say to the author that this was a very moving and courageous essay, beautifully done. It underlines just how complex, nuanced and painful an issue this is — something that people on all sides of the abortion debate should keep in mind and respect. (As many commenters here seem to.)

  92. futurephd says:

    First of all, thank you to the author for this poignant and beautiful article. It was courageous, and I hope, cathartic, for you to write this piece.
    To those who believe that aborting a child destined to live a life of pain and suffering is wrong, all I can say is ask how much suffering and pain have you youself endured? It may be courageous to suffer oneself, but it is cruel to force another person to suffer. A fetus does not feel pain and has no sense of self (see explanation of scintific findings below), a born child does. This is why it is kind and loving to spare an unborn child from such pain.
    Now, on to the general abortion debate:
    First of all, the various movements of a fetus (as well as heartbeat) are due to what is referred to as the “reptilian brain”. It carries that label because it is the part of the brain that we inherited from our reptilian ancestors and it is the same “brain” that snakes and lizards are endowed with now. The other, more advanced and evolutionarily recent parts of the brain, are developing during gestation, but they are not fully functional. They begin to acquire function gradually, during the last months of gestation and continue to grow, change and perfect themselves throughout life (these changes are what account for learning). Even a newborn (not just a fetus!) is not yet capable of true cognition or emotional processing.  A newborn has no sense of self and only begins to understand that he/she has a physical body during the first few months OUTSIDE of the womb. However, a newborn does feel pain and has the behavioral patterns necessary to try and survive (for the majority of its development, a fetus DOES NOT, because the necessary brain regions have not yet developed). The scientific article (based on actual experiments rather than someone’s opinion) that was posted by someone earlier explains this in a more complex way, that many readers from non-scientific backgrounds may not have understood. Thus, equating a fetus with a “born” human being is not scientifically supported.
    On a personal note, one of the things that I realized after my wonderful son was born was how much humans rely on love and care to survive and thrive. A human cannot develop normally into a healthy (physically and psychologically) person without love and affection and a responsive caregiver. No child should have to go through life without love and gentleness. That so many do is a tragedy beyond compare. Hundreds, (if not thousands) of children are abused every year. Some are murdered at ages when they are quite capable of realizing what is being done to them by caregivers who do not want them. While many may not agree with this view, my opinion is that a life without love (spent in emotional, if not physical, pain) is worse than death. Those who oppose abortion seem blind to the fact that, unfortunaltely, an unwanted child is just that: unwanted and unloved. It would be wonderful if there were loving homes available to all the unwanted children who are concieved. This is not the case. I wonder how many abortion opponents have adopted children, espeially those with special needs. Have any of you who have spoken out against abortion actually adopted a child? What about a child with specially needs? Someday, if I can afford it (since I believe that children should be provided a good, secure and stable life), I would love to adopt one of the many children who were brought into this world by people unable, or unwilling, to do what is necessary for a child to have a good life that is worth living. It would be great if all the pro-life people would be willing to do the same.
    Ps.- A Dr. does not necessarily mean a medical doctor. The person can have a PhD. in theology (which is probably the case with the earlier poster).

  93. amaline5 says:

    ldancer, and Alicia Rogers, bravo. Thank you for writing such thoughtful, well written, and well researched points. And to Dr. Sonya Riesling…What kind of “daily hell” is it to realize that you are a cruel, judgmental, heartless bitch? Knowing that you are likely spouting off this hateful vitriol to your children makes my stomach turn. “Low life gutter slut who becomes a murderer”? What rock did you climb out from under? Further talk is pointless, because you clearly have no compassion to appeal to. What a wonderful doctor and mother you must be.

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