The day I decided to end my unborn child’s life at 27 weeks pregnant is forever burned in my memory. Subsequent to a week of fetal ultrasounds, MRIs, and amniocentesis, my husband and I sat in our OB’s office while I anxiously tapped my fingernails awaiting the results as to what could be the problem with our baby boy, considering every checkup up to this point had been blissfully uneventful.
As it turns out, he had severe brain abnormalities. The hemispheres of his brain had not properly formed together and a significant part of his frontal lobe was missing. He would undoubtedly face severe cognitive issues and it was fairly certain that he would never be able to speak, walk, or even breathe without medical intervention.
We were faced with the unimaginable decision of moving forward or ending the pregnancy. A decision that felt like a proverbial fork dividing the path of our entire existence.
Would I be able to submit myself to a life of such uncertainty? A life where I would have to constantly worry about who would take care of my child in my demise, a life where I could possibly not afford the health care necessary to care for a person with severe physical and mental disabilities? Would we be able to afford a house that’s wheelchair accessible? Would my marriage crumble under the stress? Would we be able to have more children given the fact that so much of our time and resources would probably be going to the needs of our firstborn?
Many people would say these concerns are all completely selfish, and they would be correct, but what felt even more selfish was bringing this child into this world when I knew he didn’t have a fair shot at a good life and to watch him suffer so I didn’t have to feel guilty about having an abortion.
Our decision was made.
Shortly after we ended the pregnancy, word seemed to travel fast and we were inundated with messages of (mostly) support from friends and family.
As we were trying hard to make peace with our decision, I received several texts and emails from various people in my life sending me pictures and videos of beautiful disabled children with big smiles on their faces, posing with their happy families, clearly trying to “debunk” my apparent “beliefs” that children with physical or mental disabilities were incapable of living happy, fulfilled lives.
Messages such as these, as well as politicians haphazardly slinging terms like “baby killer” around, sent me downward spiraling into a rabbit hole of depression which took months of therapy to crawl out of.
I am still working on breaking the stigma of having a late-term abortion, and the more open I am about my story, the easier it gets. Because that’s exactly what it is—my story. And while I have the utmost respect and admiration for anyone raising a child with significant disabilities, it simply wasn’t what I wanted for my life or the life of my unborn child.
In the wake of the assault on women’s rights in this country, I feel absolutely terrible for women who don’t or might not have the right to decide for themselves what is best for them, their family, or their unborn child as I did. People are so quick to judge as to what they would or wouldn’t do when faced with a life-altering decision such as having an abortion at any stage, and it’s one I hope you never have to face.
I made my decision, and I have no regrets.
Image: Gayatri Malhotra / Unsplash