All the Sweet Moments

Florida,  United States
  Two of my children are in heaven.  My daughter is in heaven because God took her home. Little Katie was born with a serious genetic disorder and lived for only two months.  My son is in heaven because I aborted him.  

I am submitting this essay because I want you to know which choice I regret, and in which choice I delight.  

I look back on my daughter’s life with deep joy and satisfaction.  I was not a perfect mom, even for those two months, but I have the satisfaction of knowing that I loved her deeply and cared for her as well as I could.  I think of her often in God’s presence and my heart leaps.  

My son is in God’s presence too, but that thought sends me to my knees.  The law says it was my choice to make, but I know the truth:  I made a decision no human has the right to make—the decision to end the life of an innocent child.

When I found out as a teenager that I was pregnant, I decided to abort for only one horrifically selfish and immature reason.  I wanted to avoid the difficult discussion with my parents that would follow if they found out I was sexually active.   Although I was given papers to sign, I do not recall anyone at the clinic speaking to me about the risks or potential negative side effects of abortion.  I am certain no one asked me why I wanted to abort or challenged me to think through my decision.  While being prepped for the procedure, I told the doctor that I believed abortion was wrong.  He said nothing to discourage me from going through with it.

Many years later, as a married woman, I was once again faced with the decision to abort.   My husband and I were told that our baby had Trisomy 13, an incurable genetic disorder.  The doctor urged us to make our decision quickly because I was already far along in my pregnancy and fast approaching our state’s abortion deadline.  

Once again, years after my teenage abortion, I felt the tug of selfish thinking.  I was afraid of the way a tiny, innocent baby might change my life.  I knew that some Trisomy 13 children live for many years, and I realized our daughter might need total care.  I worried about the strain on our finances and on our marriage.  

My husband and I also wrestled with the fear that our daughter might suffer.  Maybe, we thought, the compassionate thing would be to abort her before she ever had to struggle.  But then we remembered that plenty of people suffer and yet still want to live as long as they can.  Who were we to decide that she should die so she might not suffer?  

When I told the doctor we had decided not to abort, he urged me to reconsider.  Looking me in the eye, he warned that I might not be able to handle carrying a child that I knew was unlikely to live.  We stood firm in our decision not to abort, but over the course of my pregnancy, I thought a lot about what he had said.  What did that his warning even mean—I might not be able to “handle” it?  Did he mean there was a significant risk that I would have a nervous breakdown?  Did he mean the stress might kill me?  

Ultimately, my husband and I “handled” the challenges the same way anybody does,  by walking through them one step at a time.  

During the two months our daughter was alive, we received an outpouring of support and love from family and friends.  It was a difficult time, but my doctor’s warning turned out to be completely erroneous.  I never felt I could not handle things.  Yes, we grieved deeply when we lost Katie, but we would have also grieved if we had aborted  her, and that kind of grief would have been accompanied by shame and regret.  Instead, we are able to hold our heads high, knowing we took care of her as well as we could.  The grief we experience is mitigated by the memories of all the sweet moments we enjoyed with her.

In both of my pregnancies, my doctors pointed me in the wrong direction.  The doctor who performed my abortion never explained that I might have to deal with serious adverse consequences—grief, shame, and deep regret—for the rest of my life.   Katie’s doctor warned me of adverse consequences I might experience if I did not abort, but his warnings were entirely misguided.  I regret my abortion, but I do not regret my decision to give birth to Katie.  Giving birth to Katie was one of my proudest moments, and one of the most important things I have ever done.

Priests for Life