“We can deceive ourselves that early induction is the loving thing whereas it’s really making things easier for ourselves,” she said. “There is an awful lot of pressure and manipulation and withholding of information. Doctors will tell you babies with anencephaly cannot hear, that when they kick in the womb, it’s simply reflex movements.”
One couple she met were told they had to abort one anencephalic twin to save the life of the other.
“They didn’t know they could simply go through the pregnancy and deliver both,” she said. “Women in many cases have to fight to continue their pregnancy. If there a severe disability, the medical protocol is to terminate. They think it’s better for that child to be dead.”
She also operates a Web site, www.mychildmy gift.com. Others, such as www.livingwithtrisomy13.org and www.prenatalpartnersforlife.org, come with photos, music and testimonies from parents who either regret their choice to abort or who brought their pregnancies to term. There is also www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org, a Web site of photographers nationwide willing to show up at all hours to photograph stillborn or soon-to-die babies.
For parents who did abort, Theresa Bonapartis, a Bronx resident, operates www.postabortion help.org under the aegis of Lumina, an organization that helps crisis pregnancies.
“A lot of couples feel such anger and grief because of the pressure put on them,” she says. “One woman was told their child would be put in a home and sexually abused if anything happens to them.
“Then there is the clergy who tell them it’s OK to have these abortions. It’s like a false compassion. Sometimes it’s a priest, other times it’s a rabbi, but they are not doing people any favors.
“They are told their baby is going to be deformed but when they see the baby, there’s been a mistake and the deformity is not bad. One woman told me, ‘Everyone told me it was going to be a monster, but it was just a baby girl.’”
The medical community unnecessarily puts pressure on parents to terminate quickly, says Dr. Calhoun, who is also a board member with the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
“The mom is not going to die. The baby already has a lethal anomaly, so waiting a few days is fine,” he said. “You need to allow the family to process this. The only time it’s an issue is if you are approaching 24 weeks, after which a lot of states do not allow terminations. Most of these diagnoses are between 16 to 20 weeks, so you’ve got plenty of time.”
Tracy Winsor, a volunteer in a perinatal support “Elizabeth Ministry” at St. Mark Catholic Church in Huntersville, N.C., is working to form “Serving Our Sisters,” a “shotgun blast” of Catholic women nationwide to whom mothers with problem pregnancies can turn.
“Even the pro-life community is unaware of how many people are terminating because of fetal defects,” she says. “But there is no research that suggests that terminating a baby saves you any grief. The parents think it will be better if it’s over sooner; in fact, they are more likely to have maternal depression and depression issues.”
Which is why women like Mrs. Mayer-Whittington encourages women to persevere until the natural birth.
“You recognize everyone has a right to life,” she says. “They are entitled to have that life. It’s not your choice to end it, it’s God’s choice.”
Isaiah’s Promise, which she and Cubby LaHood co-founded 12 years ago, still bring them into contact with couples who agonize over poor prenatal diagnoses.View Entire Story
Julia Duin is the Times’ religion editor. She has a master’s degree in religion from Trinity School for Ministry (an Episcopal seminary) and has covered the beat for three decades. Before coming to The Washington Times, she worked for five newspapers, including a stint as a religion writer for the Houston Chronicle and a year as city editor at the ...
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