My husband and I are blessed with a 16 month old son, and look forward to expanding our family. Last November, we learned that we would be expecting our second child. Sadly, our joy was short-lived. During prenatal testing, we learned that the baby boy I was carrying had Trisomy 18, a chromosomal abnormality that is nearly always incompatible with life.
The genetic counselor gave us grim odds. There was a 50 percent chance that he'd be stillborn. If he made it that far, he'd live only a few hours or days. Less than 10 percent of babies with Trisomy 18 reach their first birthday. And during his short life, he would be plagued by severe and debilitating health problems requiring constant care. As much as I wanted this baby, I knew the physical and emotional demands to carry him, only to watch him die, would be too much to bear. Not to mention that at 38, my reproductive years are limited and we could lose the chance of having another child.
We are fortunate. We live in California and we have good insurance. Two days after getting the test results, I had an abortion at the same hospital where I delivered my first child. I had first-rate doctors, anesthesiologists and nurses who showed compassion and support for what they knew was a horrible loss. Instead of questioning or judgment, I received grief counseling.
I found comfort in an online community of women facing the same choice. Unfortunately for many of them, insurance or state laws made their situation that much harder. One woman told her story of driving 300 miles to the closest clinic, and then walking through picketers -- all the while mourning her loss. I shudder to think how even harder our decision would have been had our insurance not covered the abortion. It removed the financial calculus of what was a very personal and agonizing decision.
Until then, being pro-choice was for someone else. It wasn't supposed to happen to people like me who want a child. But it did and I am so grateful for the choice. The choice to be a mother again, so my son can be a brother and my husband a father. By choosing abortion, I chose life.