Friday, August 19, 2005

The anencephaly abortion

There are so many posts on the refusal of the US government to fork over the cash to kill a fetus diagnosed with anencephaly. I'll only link to this one, chosen because it's fairly representative.
.... The gov't found that since the child didn't endanger the mother's life, that it wouldn't pay for its abortion. Also, the family had an income of less than 20,000 dollars. The abortion cost was 3,000 dollars which the family had to pay -- they sued for the money and lost.

I personally can't comprehend why fundamentalist conservatives wouldn't condone an abortion in this case. Often, they basically want to "punish" the mom for not having protected sex or some other fault of the mother and want them not to have an abortion. Here though, by bringing this fetus into the world, you're punishing the potential child. ....

My response:
I can understand how somebody who hasn't really done a lot of extensive research can come to the conclusions you did. And I chose your blog entry as representative of those who came to that conclusion. But I think your conclusion is based on common misperceptions about anencephaly and about carrying a pregnancy to term after a grim diagnosis.

Here are some stories by women who have been there. I hope you will read them over and give serious thought to what these women have to say:

Monica's story
Liz's story
Jaime's story
Stephanie's story
Sue's story
Dawn's story

And the most remarkable story of all, The Story of baby Faith Hope

If you look past the common myths about anencephaly and pregnancy, you may come to agree that we should be offering these mothers love and support while they cherish their children's short lives. Throwing money at somebody to get him to kill the baby doesn't help anybody except the guy who walks away with the cash.

Here are more resources for folks wanting to understand how to give mothers and babies love, not abortion:

  • Anencephaly Support Foundation: Information and personal stories
  • Waiting with Love: For families facing any fatal prenatal diagnosis
  • Statement by the Committee on Doctrine of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops: Moral and theological observations
  • Anencephaly Blessings from Above: Christian support site for families coping with an anencephaly diagnosis
  • Anencephaly Net: Information links and links to personal stories
  • The Case against Premature Induction Deliveries of Babies with Anencephaly and Other "Anomalies Incompatible with Life
  • Unwanted Abortion of a Wanted Child: The story of a family tricked into aborting an anencephalic baby they wanted to deliver live.

    Tonal Bliss said...

    Anencephaly cases have interested me for some time. Although the death of any infant is always tragic, the opportunity of some anencephalic parents to bond with their newborn prior to the newborn's death is very important to the healing process.

    Thank you for providing much needed information.

    Christina Dunigan said...

    David Reardon has said that when there's a horrible prenatal diagnosis, there's almost never a happy ending. Abortion only guarantees a sad ending because it eliminates the possibility of a misdiagnosis, of a better prognosis than the doctors anticipated, or of joy and meaning in the child's short life.

    If Option A gives you a 99.9% chance of a dead baby, and Option B gives you a 100% chance of a dead baby, what benefit doe it do to anybody to choose Option A? That .1% is your only hope. Why deliberately eliminate it?

    Unknown said...

    This is disgusting and you are disgusting people. Are you so devoid of empathy that you cannot fathom what it would be like for some women to give birth to a brain dead child? Not everyone believes in wishes and unicorns. Not all can equate an involuntary facial twitch as the miracle smile of a "special child." Some of us will accept that the child is non-functioning and will never be able to feel or understand the love a mother can give and that can be devastating. These children are utterly broken and forcing these mothers to keep them until term when they know for MONTHS the prognosis of their unborn is horrible. And this is not something that is easily misdiagnosed, so don't give me that. Now imagine doing so only to have your child die during delivery or shortly after birth. This is barbaric. Now, I realize that some among us have a strong sense of denial and would happily bear these children, but what about the ones who won't? Are you going to push your agenda on them regardless because that's the way you feel about it? This is the lowest form of low from you pro-lifers, seriously.

    Christina Dunigan said...

    This isn't about wishes and unicorns. It's about being REAL. To abort a baby because her life will be short is to steal from somebody who has very little in the first place. Isn't it worse to steal the last blanket some homeless person has than to steal an expensive hand-made comforter from a rich person who has dozens of nice comforters and the money to buy thousands more if they wanted to?

    Just because the child is given very little life doesn't give somebody else the right to take that life away.

    And to encourage a woman to abort when her child's life is going to be short is likewise stealing form her the few precious moment she would have to love her baby. Even if she were only to have five minutes with her baby, those are five precious irreplaceable minutes, and we're doing her no favors when we deal with our own discomfort by playing "Out of sight, out of mind."

    The idea that it's good for mothers to encourage them to take what looks to strangers like the easy way out is doing what's nice for the strangers. The mother still has empty arms.

    Natalia said...

    I am a mother of a son that had died due to anencephaly.
    When i first found out he would die, i was 20 weeks pregnant, and i was pressured by my doctor to terminate, she said "babies like that look like monsters".
    I re-searched alot and found a wonderful website for support and for me to understand what other women went through.
    There was a mom that wrote"'What Choice Is This?'
    "They say I must make a choice to terminate and have you die now, or carry you and have you die later. What kind of choice is that?
    If I really had a choice you would not die at all. I wish you could stay inside of me where it is safe and warm. That would be my choice for you. When I think of making choices for you, I think of piercing your ears or not. What color dress you will wear. What school I will put you in. Not die now or die later. Dying is not a choice. Who would willingly choose death?
    If your death must be, it will not be by my actions. I will have no part in it! I love you and could not be the cause of your death.
    Some say it would be easier to terminate. Easier for who? Not me and not you! For them, so that they don't have to look at us with my big belly and wait for death to knock on our door. I loved you before you were sick and your being sick hasn't changed that. Hold on, sweet baby, and fight for your life.
    I made my choice before you were conceived when I asked God to give me a child. I promised to love and care for you. This I will do for as long as God lets me. A choice is usually something that has two different endings. So why does my choice have only one? Your death, either way. The only choice that I have left is that I will never forget. I'll love you forever, Brittany Ann."
    (Brittany Ann was diagnosed with anencephaly on 4/12/94 and was born to Marylynn & Dan Kalevich and five siblings on 6/1/94. She survived for 29 minutes.) "
    I made my choice and gave life to my son, he went on his own time, and i was not a cause of his death by aborting him. I got a chance to hold him, to give him his first bath, to name him Noah and to see him off to heaven, i got a chance to see if Noah looked more like my husband or myself.
    I like your blog, and i can't stand when people encourage other women to terminate, just because they think that in someway it would be easier for the mother. When years go by, they do wonder what it would have been like to say goodbye properly. (i've got e-mails from women that have deeply regreted the decision by terminating).

    Christina Dunigan said...

    Hugs, Natalia. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Jack.232 said...

    You DO know that ANY infant born with Anencephaly will NEVER live a full life, right?! In the hefty case of anencephaly, I would STRONGLY suggest an abortion before the "child" can be born. Anencephalic newborns almost ALWAYS cannot hear, see, taste, smell, or feel pain, because THEY ARE BORN WITHOUT A FULLY FUNCTIONING BRAIN. I can only imagine the sheer terror, disbelief, disgust, and sorrow that anyone has had to go through when giving birth to an Anencephalic baby. They just look like such vile creatures, and to call these things "fully-functioning children" is just wishful thinking. These newborns usually die within 24 hours after birth. Also, just looking at the baby with its exposed brain and bugged-out eyes makes me want to vomit... have a nice day.

    Christina Dunigan said...

    So, Jack, whether or not you find a person's disability disturbing is the criteria with which we decide who lives and who dies?

    For those of you who think that babies with anencephaly can't bring their parents anything but the kind of revulsion Jack feels, visit Myah's blog about her baby with anencephaly.

    Unknown said...

    i dont understand why some people are considering this a disability...a baby born with this condition can neither hear, touch, feel, see, taste, and any other sense that makes us alive. there is no living in that. moreover, though the baby is not brain dead, he/she is NOT concious. thus, parents that decide to abort the child are in many ways selfless. consider if you were that baby, would you want to live a life where you could do NOThing where you had no sense of the world. I would not want my baby to go through that suffering so i would choose to terminate. i would feel MORE guilty giving birth to the child for having to put him/her through that.

    Kathy said...

    Shreya, at first you say they have no sense of anything and aren't really alive, then you immediately call it "suffering". Which is it? It can't be both.