How Abortion Saved a Woman’s Life

I am Pro-Life and Pro-Choice.

I know this is a confusing statement for many, but I’m of the opinion that we should save as many babies as we can, while also allowing for the fact that some women need medical terminations or abortions to save their own lives, to prevent their baby from suffering a horrible death and/or life, or perhaps to prevent their own suffering.

In my first blog, I wrote about a woman whose baby would have died a painful death if it was born into our world. In this blog, I am sharing the story of a mother who would have died if the baby within her had continued to grow. Both of these mothers had medical terminations in order to prevent or cut short suffering and death. Both are Christians. These women are very brave souls who had to make tough decisions in situations where there is no possibility of a happy ending.

How Abortion Saved a Woman’s Life:

A 35yr old mother of five fell pregnant with baby number six. She loved being a mum and was happy to have another child, but there was one small problem. Her fifth child had been delivered via caesarean section and the next baby’s placenta was pushing against the scar tissue and prying open the surgical wound as the baby and the placenta grew.

At 10 weeks gestation, the mother started bleeding. She presented to the hospital and upon initial examination the doctor said she would likely have a miscarriage. She was told to come back in a week if she hadn’t miscarried and was still bleeding. It was lucky she came back a week later, because the results of the next ultrasound were much more serious. It was only a matter of time before this woman’s placenta would rupture and she would bleed to death, killing both her and the baby.

This woman was advised to have an emergency hysterectomy. In fact, unless she refused to continue medical care, there would be no leaving that hospital without one, because that’s what the doctors deemed necessary to save her life. Of course, having a hysterectomy while pregnant means forfeiting that baby’s life. The baby, the placenta, and the entire uterus all had to be removed to save this mother from the brink of death. A mother of five children. Five children who desperately needed her to stay alive. But even if there were no other children, this woman would still deserve and have the right to live.

This was one of those impossibly tragic situations where there is no saving the baby without saving the mother but there is no saving the mother without letting go of the baby. This poor woman didn’t even have time to process what was happening. She barely had a decision to make because there were no alternatives, except death. This was a no-brainer for the doctors involved.

But for the mother, it was the hellish process of going from carrying a perfectly healthy baby one minute, to not only losing that baby, but also losing the possibility of any future babies:

“They operated on me that morning. Hysterectomy at 35. Healthy baby gone. They didn’t find out for me if the baby was a girl or a boy. No offer of counselling. No walk through of aftercare except a print out on an A4 sheet. I was put in the ward for women whose hysterectomies were due to cervical cancer. They were happy to have theirs. I was just numb about it for a while. Sad to have lost a healthy baby, but the choice was out of my hands.”

How devastating to be offered no support after a medical termination, which is technically a form of abortion. This was a loss, a grief, a death, and yet no one seemed to treat it this way. Being judged for it—as though you have done something wrong—only adds salt to the wound. And yet broad-sweeping generalisations about abortion being wrong, mean this woman has to hide or experience other people’s judgement.

I want to live in a world where women are free to talk about medical terminations, abortions, miscarriages, still birth and so on. There has been too much silence, judgment and a lack of support for too long. Let’s be the change.

Share this blog, and let the women in your life know that you are willing to listen without judging them. Offer your support. I would also love the opportunity to hear from anyone who wants to share their story.
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Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Blog#1

Pro-life or pro-choice?

I am both.

I want to launch back into blog writing by starting a series of discussions about abortion. As a child I was taught that abortion was murder and murder was a sin, therefore, abortion was also wrong. I didn’t begin to question this until adulthood when I heard about some of the reasons for medical terminations and realised that abortion is not a black and white issue. Abortion is not always right or always wrong and ultimately, I do not believe we should ever judge the woman who has had an abortion because we have not lived their lives or walked in their shoes. I want to share some of their stories in order to broaden our views about this sensitive issue.

Sometimes there are medical reasons for having an abortion. This is better known as a medical termination. For my first blog in the series, I would like to share the story of a mother who walked this difficult path:

A woman in her early thirties who had had one miscarriage and two subsequent children, was trying to conceive another child. She underwent fertility treatments and conceived after a year. While she was pregnant she discovered that her baby had a large cystic hygroma. This is a growth on the head or neck that contains cysts that continue to multiply. The baby’s lymphatic vascular system did not develop normally. Her lungs had fluid in them and were not developing in a way that sustains life after birth. Her heart and other organs were also surrounded by fluid.

Multiple specialists gave this baby a poor prognosis. In other words, they told the mother that her baby was going to die one way or another. They said that if the baby made it to full term, they could put the baby on life support through a very complicated procedure while still in the womb. The baby’s life would be sustained by medical equipment after birth, only to die a very slow and painful death outside of the womb.

This woman and her husband made the agonising decision to have a medical termination at 15 weeks gestation. This was not an unplanned pregnancy or an unloved baby. This was a baby who was very much loved and longed for by parents who had to undergo treatment just to conceive in the first place. This was a hopeless situation in which the baby girl’s parents had to make an excruciating decision to end her life in order to spare her more pain.

So, at 15 weeks this baby was induced and born into the world to minimise her suffering as she died. Her parents held her tiny lifeform in their arms and grieved the loss of their darling daughter. They were so grateful just to meet her and have the memory of holding her. Even though they experience some guilt and, at times, a lack of support for their decision, they are convinced it was the right decision for their circumstances.

“Do what is right for your baby. Don’t listen to others who think they understand … they don’t. You cannot know how it feels until you are

faced with a choice that really isn’t a choice. You may think you

would never make the decision to terminate, but will find you change when you are presented with all the information from multiple specialists.”

The mother of this precious baby joined support groups to process all that she had gone through. She later had another healthy baby.

Abortion, Contraception and IVF

It may shock you to learn that I am not anti-abortion. I try to take a neutral approach and say that I am neither for nor against, but there are some circumstances in which I am pro-abortion and in all instances I aim and desire to be pro-grace.

I know many women who have had abortions. I know women who have had ectopic pregnancies and while some have not admitted to having an abortion, it seems that this would have been the doctors only course of action. Another reason I have heard for having an abortion was that the mother had cancer while she was pregnant and needed to undergo treatment for cancer. As the treatment would have been harmful to the baby, she terminated the pregnancy.

Every woman who has an abortion has a story and reasons why. It may be that the woman is not in a relationship with the father of the baby and the father doesn’t want anything to do with his child. Another may be because the circumstances in which the child was conceived were abusive. In some cases the baby is very sick and the mother is advised by doctors to abort. In other cases the mother is sick and not likely to survive if she has the baby.

Many women who have abortions never dreamed that they would do so, or would want to do so, or would need to do so. But then the circumstances seem exceptionally bad to them and they feel that this decision is the best one for them. Who are we to judge? I wouldn’t be surprised if some Christians and Muslims have abortions because their religion tells them that if they are caught pregnant out of wedlock, they will be shamed in their churches and families, potentially rejected, disowned, mocked and hated. I used to wonder if I were ever raped as a teenager (because I had no intentions of having sex before marriage) and became pregnant, would I abort to save face? I don’t know the answer to that.

If Christians would judge one another less it is possible that abortion would decrease. If we listened to one another’s stories and showed grace, then people who have had abortions out of necessity or desperation, would be able to be honest, safely, instead of harbouring a secret that may be detrimental to their emotional health.

For all the anti-abortionists out there who think they are better than people who have had abortions, I suggest you take the log out of your own eye. What log am I talking about? One would be contraception and the other would be IVF.

Using contraception is no more natural than having an abortion. Let me state again that I am neither for nor against abortion. In the same way, I am neither for nor against contraception or IVF. I simply feel that if a person is going to stand against abortion, they should stand against the whole kit-and-caboodle.

I personally use contraception. I got married at age 32 and in preparation, went to a natural family planning centre. They taught me how to chart my vaginal temperature and recognise when I am ovulating. Being a Catholic centre, their idea is that couples abstain from sex leading up to and during ovulation and then engage in sex after ovulation until the woman’s next period, if she doesn’t want to conceive. They do not recommend contraception, but rather abstinence except during the time when you cannot conceive. My husband and I decided we would use diaphragms and condoms up until I’ve ovulated and then go without contraception until my period. So far, to my knowledge, I haven’t been pregnant. I love this method and would encourage couples to look into it – if the woman has a regular cycle – simply because it doesn’t involve taking hormones.

However, I am well aware that a lot of women out there take the pill, use an implant or IUD (intrauterine device) while they are trying to avoid conception. What many of them don’t realise is that these three forms of contraception cannot 100% guarantee that a woman won’t conceive. And if she does conceive, the egg will have great difficulty implanting in the uterus because of the supplemental hormones in her body. These forms of contraception are designed to trick the woman’s body into thinking she is already pregnant, so that any fertilised egg will not implant in the uterus. This means that the fertilised egg is aborted from the body unbeknownst to the mother. I have met many women who have conceived while using contraception. If you can conceive a baby while using contraception, then you can also naturally abort (miscarry) a baby while using contraception. It does not mean that this happens to every woman or that the woman’s body is conceiving and aborting every month. Perhaps some women never conceive while using contraception at all. But it is POSSIBLE to conceive and therefore POSSIBLE to abort because of the contraception in the body.

Some would even argue that the barrier method (condoms & diaphragms etc.) is equivalent to all other forms of contraception because people using it are not letting nature take its course. We are “playing God” or prohibiting the plan of God – if you will. And in extreme Christian sects they would say that learning about ovulation and natural family planning are also prohibiting the plan of God for your future children. While I think this is extreme, I have to admit that up until 100 years ago, people made do without most of the current forms of contraception.

But we live in a different world where contraception is available and I would most likely have taken the pill had a married a lot younger. I also want my husband to have a vasectomy after we’ve had our family, and this is yet another form of contraception. I don’t have the right to judge the decisions of a woman who became pregnant as a teenager and decided to abort because she didn’t intend to start a family until she was in her thirties. I too am delaying my family by using contraception.

The second “log” I mentioned, is IVF. If you did not know, when couples go through IVF, more than one egg is fertilised. Sometimes multiple eggs are implanted into the women in the hopes that at least one will survive. Sometimes more than one survives. Other times there are fertilised eggs left over. These eggs are frozen so that the woman can have IVF again … or not. If the woman does not use the fertilised egg within seven years, it is disposed of. Aborted.

I understand that women who struggle to conceive, resent other women who have abortions. They resent that someone else conceived without really trying, while they have struggled so hard to conceive and it makes them feel angry that the baby was aborted, when they feel like they would kill to have a baby. But they don’t realise that in some circumstances they are, in fact, killing to have a baby of their own.

Why judge someone for having an abortion, when you may end up having one yourself with or without even realising it?

Grace and Abortion

Why do so many people think that sin is black and white – like it’s always wrong to lie, always wrong to steal, always wrong to have an abortion…

How many lies do you tell in a day? Shop assistant asks: “How are you?” You reply: “Good thanks” but you’re really thinking something completely different – like maybe you’re running late and wish he/she would hurry the hell up, but what business is it of theirs right?

Would you seriously tell a starving child not to steal? Would you tell them that it would be more righteous for them to starve to death than to find themselves some food?

And on the issue of abortion, have you ever been faced with the situation where the baby in your womb or your partner’s womb was literally killing the mother because the baby was growing in your/her fallopian tube??? Or what if there was something else wrong with you or the baby and you were advised to abort? Can it really be as simply as: abortion is always wrong under every circumstance? I am not pro-choice nor am I anti-abortion. I am pro-adoption and I would love to have children someday. But far be it from me to judge someone for having an abortion when I have never been in their situation.

Thinking that we have the right judge other people’s so-called sin and make broad sweeping generalisations about what is right and what is wrong, only isolates people and results in an “us and them” mentality. I don’t want to stand against other people’s so-called sin and pass laws that force people to live according to my concept of right and wrong. I want to follow the example of God who (according to Romans 5) only introduced the law so that GRACE WOULD ABOUND ALL THE MORE.

The law kills, but the spirit gives life.
We are not under law, but under GRACE.