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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A little insulting and insensitive

Since losing Jenna, I have become quite a debater on several different Web sites concerning abortion. I also sold my story to an online Web site and am working to find other avenues to get the word out about what happened to me.

I have received support from many, even those who are pro-life. I've been thanked by many who are totally supportive of my stance. I've even changed a few minds about abortion when a baby has no chance or very little chance to survive. Some might not support the decision to abort in this instance, but at least, they can understand.

And then, there are those people who will never change their minds, who think abortion is always wrong, that some things in life are black and white or right or wrong across the board, and abortion will never be the answer.

It's people in the latter category who are usually insulting and insensitive and sometimes, just down right stupid. I can't tell you how many times I've heard that God gives life and God decides when to take it away. I wonder how many of these people would remove their child from life support if they were brain dead. Wouldn't it be the same thing? Wouldn't they be deciding when the life ended? Some of them had said maybe God lead them to that decision, meaning he used them to end the life. Have they ever thought maybe God is leading all those families to abortion when parents receive a poor prenatal diagnosis?

Another response I have to read from people is "Doctors and tests can be wrong. My mom, aunt, granny, sister (friend, cousin, my brother's friend's aunt's cousin) received a poor prenatal diagnosis and that baby was perfect. The tests were wrong."

First of all, amniocentesis are 99.98 percent accurate. Mistakes just aren't made. If an amnio says your baby has one of these disorders, the baby has it. Of course, the AFP test produces a lot of false positives, and ultrasounds are notorious for showing soft markers, even when nothing is wrong. However, no one I know would even think of aborting due to the AFP or just an ultrasound. For that matter, no doctor I know would ever suggest it based on those test results.

Second of all, I have never seen or read about anyone receiving a poor prenatal diagnosis from an amnio then having a healthy baby. I did a lot of research about that after our amnio came back, trying to give myself hope, but the amnio is final, it's right, and it's accurate. One more time, repeat after me, amniocentesis results are accurate. I would really like to scream this one from the rooftops.

I've also been told that those who aborted due to a poor prenatal diagnosis should have waited and prayed for a miracle. Seriously, do you know insulting this is? I'm not really a Christian anymore, but I was so desperate I prayed for a miracle. My family members, who are Christians, prayed for us. We were on prayer lists all over town. Anytime anyone heard our story, I was told they were praying for me. When people tell me I shouldn't have even thought about aborting and should have just prayed and waited for a miracle, it's extremely insulting, because I didn't get a miracle.

It makes me feel as though they are saying God decided we weren't worthy enough to receive a miracle or that we should have prayed more. I would like to ask them if they were diagnosed with cancer would they just pray and wait on a miracle. Of course, if I were to say that, I would get the old standard, test results can be wrong. I would also hear, "This is different." Of course it is. Most cancers are curable (not all, and I know that), but Trisomy 18 can't be cured at all and it's incompatible with long life.

I have also been directed numerous times to a video about a little boy named Eliot, who was diagnosed with Trisomy 18. He lived for 99 days. If anyone wants to see the video, it is available at

I watched this video for the first time while we were waiting on our amnio results. I was incredibly touched by his story. I was moved to tears, and I was truly glad they were able to have 99 days with their precious son. It is an especially moving story, and I love that they have put out this video, especially to get the word out about Trisomy 18.

However, the entire time I was watching the video, the thought running through my mind was, "I can't do that. I just can't." I knew I wasn't strong enough or brave enough to watch my child slowly die. I admire Eliot's parents for having that kind of strength, but I didn't have it in me. I knew I couldn't do it.

My first problem with people directing me to watch it is that it's insulting to me. I respect his parents' rights to make healthcare choices for their child. I'm thankful they were able to make the best decision for their family. But, I should have been able to make that same decision for my child and so should any other family in Tennessee and other states with restrictive laws. Ending the pregnancy was what would have been best for our family, just as carrying to term was the right choice for Eliot's family and many others. I respect their choice, and I would just like to receive the same kind of respect from those who direct me to watch this video.

My second problem is that it's insensitive. I wonder if these people would direct a family who turned off life support to a video of another family who didn't do so, so they could see how much joy those final days bring. I'm sure most people wouldn't. They would think it was insensitive and would respect their grief enough not to do so. So, why should they direct me to this video?

I've seriously developed a tougher skin since I started the debating about abortion, but the things I talk about above really do bother me.


Niff said...


A lot of people just can't comprehend what Trisomy 18 is. I think it's easier to say "Everything is going to be fine - a miracle will happen" than it is to face the hard truths about many medical conditions. You had a difficult choice to make, and reading what you went through to get to that point was heartbreaking. I'm disappointed that people would judge you for what you feel was best for Jenna. I hope when they're faced with a tramatic circumstance that they're greeted with more respect and compassion than they've shown you.

I believe you're an amazing woman and an amazing mother.

Basha's Mama said...

I don't know if you've seen this book but I just found a link to it today through one of my other boards.
I hope you find more people that will see past their own prejudices.

Alicja said...

Most people are just lucky that they will never understand what it's like to hear the words "incompatible with life".

As moms, we do what is best for us, our families, and most importantly, our babies.

I think sometimes people think that being insensitive and hurtful is actually a good way to change our minds. Little do they know we are stronger and bigger than that.

Parenthood For Me said...

Since going through infertility, my thoughts and view on abortion have changed. I am still pro choice but have thoughts that there should be some regulation for those that use abortion as a means of birth control. This comes from my inability to conceive a child. I adopted a boy from korea in june and I can't help but think that having the child to place him or her up for adoption is a great alternative.
But these are my opinions and that is why I am still pro choice. It is just hard when you cannot have your own child and so many women are abusing their ability to conceive.
I am sorry about your loss. No person should judge you or if they do they should keep it to themselves. IF, adoption and issues regarding pregnancy and loss seems to be fair game in our society? Why?
I am reaching out to my fellow bloggers to introduce my non profit, Parenthood for Our mission is to provide financial and emotional support to those starting families through adoption or medical intervention. Please visit our website and blog and pass the link on. Thank you for your support. I look forward to reading your blog
Erica Schlaefer