I was a guest on Lifeline on KFAX/San Francisco recently (select the podcast for August 17) to discuss abortion’s newest wrinkle, selective reduction (full story here). Here’s a dilemma posed by
host Craig Roberts during our discussion on “selective reduction”–a euphemism for the practice of aborting one or more child conceived by reproductive technology:
What if a mother selectively reduces a twin, and gives birth to the other twin, only to have the surviving twin die. How will she handle the choice to have destroyed the other child now?
What a painful scenario! It is not as rare as you might think, though, for women to abort and then regret the choice due to the death of another child, or even the death of a spouse. One woman told me her story of raising and launching her family, and then when she and her husband were poised on the brink of retirement, she got pregnant. In order to protect their plans, she chose to abort. Her husband died within the year. Just like the child God tried to give her, this woman’s particular heartbreak goes so far beyond remorse and regret that it simply has no name. This dilemma makes me wonder:
What if we as women began to believe it is more important–and in our own best interests–to protect our children than to protect our plans.
Selective reduction is extremely rare, and only a problem for the handful of families who can afford the procedures leading up to and including the choice to destroy a child before birth. We’re talking about a few hundred women facing such a choice every year. But the women who have gone through this are conflicted, grieved, distressed and vulnerable to post-partum depression.
I want you to consider that this distress is not simply because these women and families are on the leading edge of reproductive freedom without any ground under their feet, which is certainly also true.
The reality is that every woman who loses a child before birth is subject to emotional conflict, guilt, grief, distress, and possibly post-partum depression. PPD is a serious medical condition, recognized by the CDC as a life-threatening risk women face after miscarriage or stillbirth.
An equivalent number (about 25% each) of pregnancies end in both abortion and miscarriage every year. Although the CDC ignores the postpartum distress of the mothers of aborted children, the selective reduction grief proves that “choosing” abortion does not protect our hearts from knowing we have lost a child–and the guilt and grief which follow. Would a postpartum warning tend to reduce the number of women who might be likely to choose abortion for any reason in the first place? Would such a warning put the CDC in the uncomfortable position of taking a stand on the public health implications of making abortion available throughout all nine months of pregnancy for any woman for any reason?
What if we began to tell women, “This pregnancy may seem to be threatening your future, but you’re going to make it. This can be done. Love your child, and let us love you.” The message is already out there–from the pregnancy help movement and groups like The Caring Foundation. Many of their ads convey the message: You’re pregnant, but you’re not alone.
This is what women and
families of all sizes need to hear–both to prevent the pain that
abortion naturally brings, and to welcome women to a caring community
after we’ve made this fatal mistake.