I’m going down the rabbit hole with this blog post. One of the most debated and contentious subjects out there in this big scary world. One that brings out the best and worst in people. Abortion. More specifically late term abortion.
Over the last week I’ve seen a number of post shares of articles relating to the newly revised Reproductive Health Act passed in the State of New York in the United States by their governor, Andrew Cuomo on the 22nd of January 2019.
Most of the articles shared have been propaganda from websites who have no right in posting the misinformation and biased ‘information’ that they have been sharing. These articles imply that any women can simply walk into a hospital or clinic in the third trimester of their pregnancy and terminate a perfectly healthy pregnancy at a whim. The bill which was passed couldn’t be further from the truth.
As many may already know. I was diagnosed with a life threatening illness to myself and my daughter when she was 22 weeks in gestational age. At 23 weeks and 3 days I was advised to terminate her as her chance of survival was incredibly low, she was no longer growing, she and I were at risk of organ failure, strokes, fluid build-up and death. I’d never thought I would ever face the possibility of requiring an abortion with a pregnancy that was very much wanted and while carrying a child that was already so very loved. But the world is not fair, it is often cruel and unjust. We made our decision and I am forever grateful that I had the legal right to make a decision that I felt would be in the best interest of myself as well as my daughter.
In South Africa the law on abortion can be abbreviated to the following:
- Any woman of any age can get an abortion if she is less than 13 weeks pregnant, she does not need to supply any reasons for her decision;
- If she is between 13 and 20 weeks pregnant she may legally have an abortion if her own physical and/or mental health is at stake, if the baby has severe mental and/or physical abnormalities, if she is pregnant as a result of rape or incest or if she is in a situation where her economic or social situation is deemed insufficient for her to raise her child.
- If she is further than 20 weeks pregnant she may get an abortion ONLY if her life is in danger or there are serious defects in her unborn child which make them incompatible to survive beyond birth or are already in physical pain.
- Abortions beyond 24 weeks are rare and uncommon and not performed unless medically necessary.
But back to the New York State Reproductive Act of 2019.
* It changes a specific section of their current law which deals with abortion. Changing it from a penal code to a health code;
* It allows midwives and physician assistants to perform certain approved abortions;
* It guarantees women the “right to an abortion, up to the first 24 weeks of pregnancy as codified in Roe v. Wade”, this law is exactly the same as the current federal law in the United States of America that has been active for the past 46 years; and
* It allows exceptions which will permit abortions after 24 weeks gestational age. This is only permitted if the women’s life or health is at risk, or if the foetus is not viable and cannot survive outside of the womb.
In America third trimester abortions account for 1.3% of all abortions performed. In South Africa I’m uncertain as I couldn’t find reliable sources online for accurate statistics.
Read those again, and then again. Then go back to the articles you have shared. Not one of articles I have seen shared have divulged any of this information. Quite the contrary, their propaganda is to exclude this information. Alluding to the fact that women across the state of New York can simply waltz into their nearest hospital a few weeks before their due date and terminate a perfectly healthy infant because they no longer want that their children.
Have you ever found yourself in the position of possibly needing to terminate a pregnancy? Particularly after you have felt your child moving inside you. After you have heard the beauty that is her heartbeat? After you have had several scans showing her movements, her tiny little hands, her sweet delicate nose?
I was faced with that. I was dying. My child was dying. Her chances of survival at my initial diagnosis was grim, she was not likely to survive beyond birth. If she did survive she would not likely live for long, her body would be unprepared, she would be in pain, she would suffer. At that point she was just short of 23 weeks gestation. Infants born before 24 weeks gestation have incredibly low survival rates, from 24 weeks upwards their chances of survival increase daily, depending on their individual circumstances.
At 26 weeks their survival rate increases to 70%, again, dependant on their health status and medical interventions given prior to their birth.
I can go on ad nauseum on this topic, ignite many fires and lose many friends I’m certain. But the bottom line on late term abortions is this:
Children beyond 24 weeks gestation are loved.
Children beyond 24 weeks gestation are wanted.
Mothers carrying a child beyond 24 weeks gestation do not want to lose their children.
Finding out that your child is already possibly suffering from debilitating deformities and will either not survive birth or will suffer in pain for a few hours after birth, before passing away in your arms is a thought that is quite simply, unimaginable. Knowing that if you continue with your pregnancy that you or your child will likely die. Knowing that if you choose to continue with your pregnancy, that your child could possibly survive but would probably lose their mother. Knowing that your child could possibly survive, but that they would spend months fighting for their lives, being poked, prodded, and unable to be held or comforted and face the possibility of any number of lifelong health afflictions that will affect their quality of life.
The New York State Reproductive Act of 2019 allows for a woman’s body autonomy. It gives her the right to choose what is best for her, for her unborn child and for her family. It allows her the option to spare her child further pain and suffering. Previously the law only allowed late term abortion if the mothers life was at risk, it did not allow women to terminate pregnancies if they found out after 24 weeks that their babies were already suffering or would not survive outside of the womb.
Let me reiterate. A woman after 24 weeks of pregnancy is not going to be able to get an abortion simply because the wants one.
Our children are loved. Our children are wanted. From the moment our children are conceived and we find out about them, we go out of our way to ensure that they have the right start in life. We stop drinking, we eat healthy, we take our vitamins and suppliments, we have regular checkups with our doctors to monitor their growth and health. The thought of losing them is always in the back of our minds, we seldom think it out loud unless we have a history of miscarriage and infant loss.
We chose to fight for as long as possible for our daughter. We agreed that when my body gave signs that it was beginning to fail that we would need to deliver her. We agreed to give her a fighting chance. But I was given the gift of choice, after receiving all the medical advice possible, I was allowed the right to choose what would be best for me and for our daughter. I was given body autonomy.
I’ll be lying if I didn’t question my motives on more than one occasion in those first few weeks of her NICU stay. Did I make the right decision? Was my decision to fight for her valiant or self-centred? What would her life look like? Was I capable of caring for child who was likely going to be medically fragile in some form?
Before sharing articles on such delicate, heart wrenching topics, ask yourself if what you’ve read is concise and accurate. Before you condemn the act of termination beyond 24 weeks, place yourself in another woman’s shoes. If after you have received all the correct information, you still decide that abortion isn’t for you, respect that it is the right choice for someone else, respect that it will be the hardest decision any mother will ever have to make. Respect that for the rest of her life she will mourn the loss of that child. Respect that she has a right to protect her unborn child from pain and suffering. Respect that she has a right to choose her own life.