In the wake of the last United States Presidential debate on Wednesday, the subject of abortion and a woman’s right to choose was one emotional issue. The popular topic hasn’t lost any followers or comments this week, as bloggers, journalists, and political pundits have taken the perennial debate online.
“Late term abortion” is an unfortunately misinforming term, that many people mistake for “3rd trimester abortions” only and “partial-birth abortion” only. Roughly 95% of all abortions happen in the 1st trimester. Late term abortions can be defined as either 2nd or 3rd trimester. 3rd trimester abortions happen very, very rarely, if at all, and partial-birth abortion has been banned nationally since 2007.
Late term abortions nearly always occur due to severe defects found in the baby that are not detectable earlier on, or the mother’s health, and yes, the mother’s health can be suddenly imperiled at those stages. Even in 2016, pregnancy is risky and complicated.
There are several articles currently floating about (here and here) in which mothers describe the heart-wrenching decision to have “late term abortions”–in at least 2 of the articles, they are early 2nd trimester abortions–due to the baby’s severe poor health and lack of viability. Then there are the counter-articles, like Matt Walsh’s Facebook post (ah, Matt! We meet again), which exudes much self-righteous wrath but little information.
Many pro-lifers show very little understanding (or at least, admission) of the complexity of human life. They also seem to have the tendency to highlight the few cases in which doctors were wrong, never guessing how often doctors were right. Just as Matt Walsh expresses no idea of the immense risks or even likelihood of successful infant heart transplants, yet blasts the mother for “not wanting to deal with her son’s medical issues”, so others try to paint abortion with a very wide brush. Favorite words thrown about as stones that maim and kill, include “selfish”, “brutal”, “callous”, “holocaust”, “murderer”.
“He may have moved inside me for only five months, but he had touched and shaped me in ways I could never have imagined…He made me more compassionate and more patient. He taught me to love with reckless abandon, despite the knowledge that I could lose it all.” Source
The heartbreaking truth is some babies are born to die. Some babies are conceived, never to be born, or born alive. My first-born would have been 13 years old in 6 days, but for a heart condition not unlike the one described in the first article. I carried to term, happily ignorant of the imminent danger I was in due to severe complications of that pregnancy. I carried to term, confident in the belief God would heal my baby, and she lived 22 hours, not moving, on morphine because she was in such pain, on a breathing machine, with tubes going every which way. Looking back, I would have made the same choice, but I can understand why other mothers, just as loving, would choose differently.
Every life is precious, but not every life is meant to be long-lived. Not every parent has a say in the decision for life for their child, but they should get to decide how they grieve. Those babies and children who die too soon, their lives change others in big ways and small. They may not become doctors or lawyers, they may not live to take their first steps or even their first breath, but they are precious and they are loved.
Which mother is right? The one who prevents long-term suffering of her helpless child, or the one who allows it with a vain hope of miraculous healing? Can you judge their hearts? Will you cast the first stone?