Continuing to quote from John Swomley’s March 1988 Humanist article. Mr. Swomley’s article gives something you don’t see too often – real-life examples of women who have had “partial birth” abortions, who would be either forbidden from having abortions at all, or who would have to choose more dangerous procedures, if the pro-lifers have their way.
According to pro-lifers, we can’t have a health exemption because “a mother could go to her doctor and say that a baby would interfere with her homework, and the doctor could then list the reason for the abortion as ‘mother’s health endangered.’” By telling each other campfire stories like that, pro-lifers refuse to deal with the reality of the ways their laws, if enacted, will cause grave injury to real life women. Here’s the reality: Women are not the hateful monsters pro-lifers imagine (“I’ve got to do homework – guess I’d better kill my baby!”). Women’s choices are typically made for good reasons – unlike the decision to block women from getting the medical care they need.
VIKKI STELLA from Naperville, Illinois. Parents of two daughters, Vikki and her husband Archer discovered at thirty-two weeks of pregnancy that the fetus had only fluid filling the cranium where its brain should have been, as well as other major problems. The Stellas made “the most loving decision we could have made” to terminate the pregnancy. Because the procedure preserved her fertility, Vikki was able to conceive again. In December 1995, she gave birth to a healthy boy, Nicholas.
MARY-DOROTHY LINE from Los Angeles, California. In the summer of 1995, Mary-Dorothy was told at twenty-one weeks of pregnancy that her fetus had an advanced, textbook case of hydrocephalus–an excess of fluid on the brain. It was so acute and so advanced that it was untreatable. Practicing Catholics, she and her husband Bill sought a medical miracle but were told that no surgery or therapy could save their baby. Indeed, the medical experts who reviewed the case told her that her own health was at risk, and so the Lines decided to end the pregnancy. Mary-Dorothy was able to become pregnant again and gave birth to a healthy baby girl in September 1996.
COREEN COSTELLO from Agoura, California. In April 1995, seven months pregnant with her third child, Coreen and her husband Jim found out that a lethal neuromuscular disease had left their much-wanted daughter unable to survive. Its body had stiffened and was frozen, wedged in a transverse position. In addition, amniotic fluid had puddled and built up to dangerous levels in Coreen’s uterus. Devout Christians and opposed to abortion, the Costellos agonized for over two weeks about their decision and baptized the fetus in utero. Finally, Coreen’s increasing health problems forced them to accept the advice of numerous medical experts that the intact dilation and extraction (D&X) was, indeed, the best option for Coreen’s own health, and the abortion was performed. Later, in June 1996, Coreen gave birth to a healthy son.
MAUREEN MARY BRITELL from Sandwich, Massachusetts. Maureen and her husband Andrew, practicing Catholics, were expecting their second child in early 1994 when, at six months’ gestation, a sonogram revealed that the fetus had anencephaly. No brain was developing, only a brain stem. Experts at the New England Medical Center in Boston confirmed that the fetus the Britells had named Dahlia would not survive. The Britells’ parish priest supported their decision to induce labor and terminate the pregnancy. During the delivery, a complication arose and the placenta would not drop. The umbilical cord had to be cut, aborting the fetus while still in delivery in order to prevent serious health risks for Maureen. Dahlia had a Catholic funeral.
Note that under the terms of the “partial birth” abortion ban the Senate just passed, Maureen’s doctor would legally be forbidden from cutting the umbilical cord, since that would be a “discreet act” killing the fetus. If the “partial birth” ban becomes law, the doctor would face a choice of allowing Maureen to be badly injured, or committing an act which could cause the doctor to lose her/his medical license and spend up to two years in prison.
CLAUDIA CROWN ADES from Los Angeles, California. In 1992, in the twenty-sixth week of a desperately wanted pregnancy, Claudia and her husband Richard were told after an ultrasound that the male fetus she carried had a genetic condition called trisomy-13. Its anomalies included extensive brain damage, serious heart complications, and liver, kidney, and intestinal malformations. Its condition was incompatible with life. After consulting with many physicians, Claudia and Richard chose the D&X as the medically appropriate procedure for Claudia and the most compassionate procedure for their would-be son.
Out of millions of American women, it’s possible that one or two exist who might have a late-term abortion for an entirely trivial reason. But that’s no reason to block off 100% of American women from medical help they may someday need to prevent real danger to their health and well-being. There is absolutely no excuse for the pro-life opposition to health exemptions to abortion bans.