I was asked by a couple friends to weigh in on this because I’m one of those people who would qualify for a late-term abortion because of the pregnancy endangering my life.
My take is this: If faced with the decision, I will always decide to save myself first, but I will also argue for them to save the baby if at all possible.
The quote that most accurately reflects my experience is this one from former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop:
Protection of the life of the mother as an excuse for an abortion is a smoke screen. In my 36 years of pediatric surgery, I have never known of one instance where the child had to be aborted to save the mother’s life. If toward the end of the pregnancy complications arise that threaten the mother’s health, the doctor will induce labor or perform a Caesarean section. His intention is to save the life of both the mother and the baby. The baby’s life is never willfully destroyed because the mother’s life is in danger.
The argument for perinatal hospice has also come up on my Facebook wall and if faced with this decision, I would probably choose to carry my baby for as long as I could before it threatened my life. At that point, I would have them deliver the baby and do whatever I had to do in order to have as much time with my kid as possible.
This quote by C. Everett Koop describes my feeling on the whole issue:
The American ideal is not that we all agree with each other, or even like each other, every minute of the day. It is rather that we will respect each other’s rights, especially the right to be different, and that, at the end of the day, we will understand that we are one people, one country, and one community, and that our well-being is inextricably bound up with the well-being of each and every one of our fellow citizens.
The current pro-life view I see (which really irritates me) is that the mother must carry the child to term and then she’s on her own to raise it because doing otherwise would mean she is a leech on society. If we expect every mother to carry her child, we had better be putting things in place like WIC and early intervention and SSI to allow her to take care of her child once they are born. We need to do things to support the parents of kiddos who are premature and of kiddos who die at birth. To do otherwise is hypocritical.
I also wish people would realize that we’re not talking about an abstract issue. I am a human being as is every woman who faces this decision, so I wish people would stop the Monday morning quarterbacking and stop pretending they know exactly how things should play out. It is horrendously painful to listen to people discuss this who have never faced it and who never will.