In the summer of 1987, my wife became hospitalized with extreme swelling and high blood pressure. She was in her fifth month of pregnancy. She had an undiagnosed auto immune disease. There are a limited number of medications that don’t cross the barrier to the fetus that may control the blood pressure.
I can still remember being called to the hospital by my wife’s nurse. I came to the hospital and my wife was crying. She had been told that there was no way to control her blood pressure and that they had to administer drugs that would be harmful to the baby and that the very presence of the pregnancy was causing her blood pressure spike. They also induced labor. Later that night, while my wife and I were alone, she spontaneously delivered a still-born child.
What I just described was an abortion. This is a medical procedure for terminating a pregnancy. This decision wasn’t made by myself or my wife. It was made by medical professionals. The doctors weren’t weighing any other political or moral questions. They weren’t worried about the legalities of the steps that they took. My wife’s life was saved, her Lupus was diagnosed and she is a mother today. This didn’t happen easily as another pregnancy ended at 7 months with the death of the fetus in utero.
Today, I have 28 year old twins who wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for an abortion performed over 30 years ago. For the record, I am pro-life. Today, I honestly believe that there are 3 lives that wouldn’t be here if the doctors had to face this decision in this environment. Abortion was a heroic intervention that needed to take place when the circumstances demanded it.
I do believe that abortion should not be treated as a casual solution for an unwanted pregnancy. I do believe that there are choices that can be made before and after sex. When the life starts growing, the ethical questions get tougher. In a culture of extremism, the answer to a question like this is difficult to find.
I recently began a new diet, well, healthy living program. It is based on the premise that all living things want to survive long enough to procreate or reproduce. Their defenses are genetic, instinctive, and rational. They protect their young from the time that they are alive. Certain plants are poisonous until they are ripe and then they become food so that the plant can reproduce. This astonished me, and gave me pause.
Nature wants us to reproduce. That’s why we have a sex drive. God proclaimed for us to be fruitful and multiply. It was Mr. Spock who said, “live long and prosper”. The living long part makes us want to fight the nature of reproducing when our sex drive is the highest. It also makes for a huge market for solutions to the fact that we want sex to be for our own pleasure long after reproduction has taken place and our ability to “perform” is lacking. We are so afraid to separate the science from the science fiction.
Extremists on both sides want there to be black letter law to justify their positions. It is wrong for all pregnancies to be treated the same. My own situation is a perfect example. It is wrong for us to treat life with such disregard as to wanting the government to guarantee that a mother can make the choice for or against a life right up until birth. These are “extremist” views and neither one can be defended in a civilized society. So what if we start there and back off to the center.
If we decide that there are no absolutes and that there is in fact a point where we have to defend the living child inside of the mother as well as the mother, then we can talk about it. We have to define birth control before conception and conception interruption after coitus as acceptable means to control an unwanted birth that may have come from a non-consensual sexual encounter. If we are unwilling to do this, then we have no business being in government.
The bottom line, for me…abortion needs to be regulated as a choice. No medical professional should ever be second guessed by a black letter law when it comes to rendering care to a patient that needs it. Finally, no person, man or woman should have so little regard for human life that they proclaim the ultimate right to life and death of a living viable human being in the name of a cause.
Search your own hearts and know…that black letter law on this subject…is extremism…and if I may be so bold…now it is state sponsored terrorism against medical professionals.
2 thoughts on “An Abortion Story”
Thank you for sharing your family’s story!
Many are bound by the limits of their own experience and do not understand how the implications of these laws. What good would it have been for anyone, for doctors to have been forced to withhold that medication and lose both your wife and the baby?
I’m sorry for the pain and loss but I’m so glad she was able to live and meet her other two babies.
Thank you for sharing your family’s story. I know it is incredibly complex and filled with emotions. I have been very vocal in the pro choice world. My adulthood has straddled pre Roe and post Roe. My involvement in providing medical care has included experience in OB/GYN and ER, as well as having an Internal Medicine practice. My concern from the beginning has been the realization that these “Pro Life” laws are not just anti-elective abortions. Too many critical, medical complications, are part of many pregnancies. Decisions have to be made quickly and decisions have to be made with medical judgement, as well as with compassion. The other problem with these laws, is that they define pregnancy with parameters that are hard to prove. A spontaneous miscarriage looks just like an elective abortion, when sitting on the external end of that speculum. If an early pregnancy was already frail, and on the way to a miscarriage, that ultrasound is not going to give any accurate information. The medical facts that these laws “cover” could fill many books. Yet, legislators, who haven’t even discussed their words with any doctors, write down factually incorrect and stupid parameters as laws. In the same documents, they direct their dangerous words to threaten the very lives of women and their doctors.
If a young woman is pregnant and has vaginal bleeding, will her “care” mandate an interview with police in order to find out if she had an elective abortion, or took the morning after pill, or even worse for her, attempted to self abort? Who determines her guilt? Is she taken from the hospital to the magistrate for questioning? It was like that pre-Roe. The stories are coming out from people just like me.
No laws should exist that legislate Women’s Medical Care. There should be medical organizations, that dictate proper medical guidelines, as they do now. There should be involvement of criminal charges when a doctor, institution or group of affiliates, practice bad medicine. But, no body of the law should legislate their personal or religious beliefs, into the actions of the judicial branch. No one should be in that room with the doctor and the patient, except those who are there to provide care and support.
NO ONE is pro abortion, anywhere, ever. We are pro choice. We do not intend to provide anything except medical care. The only deaths predicted to occur from these laws, have been written in by “Pro Life” posers. Thank you for providing this platform. And, Michael, thank you and your family for baring your souls, so we all have more informed discussions. Blessed be. Maureen