Why we had to have a late abortion
It had been a smooth pregnancy so far. We had a full DNA checkup at 10 weeks, and when the nurse called to tell us the results were completely normal – and that we were going to have a boy – we were delighted. We surprised our families with the news by ordering “Big Brother (again)” and “Big Sister” t-shirts for our two older children, who were very happy to welcome Baby Butterfly to our family.
We had the first idea that something was wrong when the technician performing our ultrasound remained unusually quiet, left the room suddenly, and left for too long. When the doctor entered the examination room, she got right to the point. “There is something wrong with your baby’s heart,” she told us. Karen screamed and started to cry. Our nightmare – every parent’s nightmare – had begun.
After a consultation with the doctor, we got into our car and drove straight to Boston Children’s Hospital for a consultation with one of the nation’s leading pediatric and fetal cardiologists. We had a fetal echocardiogram. We spent hours in a tiny hospital conference room while the doctor drew heart charts on a whiteboard.
Our baby’s heart was severely deformed. The official diagnosis was “arterial trunk”, “double entry / single ventricle” and “situs inversus”. Our sweet baby’s heart did not have the correct number of pumps or valves, and it had turned to the wrong side of its tiny body. There was no cure, only palliative options.
The doctor and a nurse practitioner carefully explained the treatment options to us. Our baby was said to have had at least three major heart operations, each with a significant risk of death, in the first two years of life – from the first week after birth. He spent a significant portion of his first year in hospital, receiving food and medicine through tubes.
Even though Butterfly survived these initial surgeries, he would need a heart, liver, and possibly kidney transplant later in life, along with the significant risk of complications, including intellectual and physical disabilities and an accident. massive cerebrovascular. At best, her tiny existence would be consumed by pain.
After asking all the questions we could think of, the doctor and nurse left the room. We turned to each other, our eyes full of tears, and silently shook our heads. We both knew right away that we were going to end this pregnancy. We hugged and cried and cried again. And then we immediately called our OB / GYN and asked them to help us get a late abortion.
Not all parents in this situation would have made the same choice. But each parent should be able to choose for themselves.
The ability of parents to make the best choice for themselves and for their families has now faced the greatest threat for almost 50 years. With Justice Kennedy’s retirement, the future of the Supreme Court – and women’s right to choose – is at stake. President Trump has repeatedly vowed to place judges on court who have pledged to overthrow Roe v. Wade.
Only two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, hold the power to determine whether President Trump will be able to honor his wish. We couldn’t imagine the government forcing Karen to carry our baby to term, deliver him to a short life of endless suffering and forcing us both, in all likelihood, to watch him die. But unless Senators Collins and Murkowski stand up for moms and dads like us, instead of hiding behind a weak commitment to a legal precedent, this is what will happen. They will be responsible.
A dozen states already ban late abortion. President Trump’s Supreme Court can’t categorically ban all forms of abortion, at least to begin with – instead, it can erase incrementally, with late abortion the first to go.
Women who have late abortions often do so because of a story like ours. These women don’t just change their minds or act recklessly or heartlessly. When we made our choice, we thought about having to quit our job to take care of our son full time, and how we could afford it. We thought about how our children’s young lives would revolve around hospital visits, exhaustion and grief. We thought about holding our little boy in our arms and watching him die, and how we could go on living on our own. Most of all, we thought about what was best for our baby butterfly. We loved him very much, we would always be his mother and father, and there was no doubt in our mind that our choice to have an abortion was the best decision for him.
Every day in America, moms and dads receive equally horrific news. We implore Senators Collins, Murkowski and their fellow senators to think of real stories like ours when they vote to confirm the lifetime appointment of a new Supreme Court justice. Our fervent hope is that no mom or dad is ever faced with the same choice as us. The only thing worse would be having no choice.
Karen and Robbie Silverman live in Newton.