I'm very grateful to have been asked to join the list of contributors to Her.meneutics. I have worked as a full-time religion reporter, but I also veer off into related topics, such as a piece I did for Mother's Day on women who decide not to abort their handicapped children.
I got the idea for that article the way I get ideas for most of my columns and news articles: I get around, I talk with people, I experience things. I was hearing from various pro-life women about genetics counselors from hell who, once they learn you are pregnant with a deformed child, are on you in two seconds to abort. Which is why many such women were patronizing Catholic hospitals and clinics, where they knew they would not be pressured to get rid of their child. I looked into the matter and found a pile of websites and sources - many of them from women who chose to bear such children - geared to support difficult pregnancies. One thing I like to do in my work is highlight a group or point of view that doesn't often get mentioned in the media, so I embarked on learning what it's like to bear a child, only to have him or her die that same day.
The parents in my story all said they were so glad to have continued their pregnancies, because at least they had photos of these children to carry with them forever. With an abortion, there are no photos.
I had encountered parents of such children back in the mid-1990s during the partial-birth abortion debates on Capitol Hill. I met parents who had been told they needed a horrific third-term abortion, only to learn that their child's health was not terminal. One couple hoisted a boy about 10 months old who had some of his organs outside his body when he was born. Yes, his tummy looked like a train track, but medics managed to reinsert his organs, and he was a healthy child. That's when I realized that genetics counselors often tell parents to abort such boys.
They say 80 percent of all Down syndrome babies are aborted, and the stats aren't much better for kids suffering from other disabilities. When researching a piece on "selective reduction," I found that moms of twins (yes, twins) and higher multiples are routinely told to kill one of the children in their womb to make room for the others. Surrounded by doctors, geneticists, and perinatologists (obstetricians who specialize in high-risk pregnancy), they often cave under the pressure and allow the doctor to inject one or more of the fetuses with a chemical that quickly causes that little body to cease moving forever. I cannot imagine having to live through that. I cannot imagine the suffering. But there is a way out, the women in my latest story told me, and that is to allow these children to be born.
Often, doctors will paint a horrible picture of a Rosemary's Baby child who will be born should you allow that pregnancy to go on. The best quote I got was from a woman who agreed to abort because, "I was told she'd be a monster," the woman said, "but she was only a baby girl."
I hope to share these and other stories with readers of Her.meneutics so they can see a bit of the universe I glimpse from the nation's capital.
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