On New York’s new abortion law

Hi readers,

I have been working on a post about the new baby, but I’ve paused it to write about New York’s new abortion law, because I think it needs to be addressed. I don’t usually veer political or religious on this blog because I don’t think it’s anyone’s business, but I think this is worth bending the rules for.

I see a lot of Christians (especially women) taking serious offense to the new law, and as a Catholic, I really feel I need to add my voice to the argument.

Let me start by saying this. The new law is, at its most basic, protective of mothers and the viability of their unborn child or children. I’m going to only refer to the most divisive part of the new law, the part in reference to late-term abortions (after 24 weeks.)

I am about 26 weeks along right now with our second baby. That’s around 6.5 months along, for people who don’t want to do any mental division. I can’t imagine any woman getting this far along in pregnancy, child initially wanted or not, and choosing to terminate on any other grounds than medical. If you have come this far, you wanted to keep the pregnancy, and the pregnancy appeared to be viable. It is literally as simple as that. Virtually no one is ending a pregnancy so far along because they just want to. What usually happens is that at around this time, women go in for a growth check (mine’s in two weeks) but some people combine it with the glucose test done between 25-26 weeks. Until now on a sonogram, some things like total brain development, heart defects, and major organ function couldn’t be seen as clearly. The baby is now large enough to assess overall health, and it is around now that a lot of fatal or very complicated diseases are diagnosed. For example, I just got an optional 22-23 week scan of the baby’s heart, because that was the only time during pregnancy to see the organ so clearly. We have major heart defects, some fatal, on Thomas’ side of the family. Had we found any of them, we would have had a pediatric cardiologist and surgeon on call when the baby was born for immediate surgery. Yes, it is often that grave when these defects are found.

What a lot of people don’t seem to understand about the timing of these late-term abortions, aside from their signifying probable suffering or immediate death of the child upon birth, is that the choice has to be made quickly. You can’t get to full term, deliver a baby, and decide when the baby is ex-utero to terminate life then. That’s too late. The longer you wait to make the choice, the harder it gets, and more complications are risked. Parents need to be free to make an impossible choice.

Most babies reaching the 26-28 week mark are considered potentially viable outside of the womb in intensive neonatal care, so the decision to abort so late is likely out of lack of options. Mothers and fathers who make this choice are often doing so because there is literally no other recourse. If you take the pregnancy to term and will lose the baby basically immediately anyway after being in pain for up to 48 hours of labor, or after a c-section, or that baby’s terrible, endless pain upon arriving, I want you to ask yourself what is kinder to the baby and its parents.

So what, exactly, is kinder? Allowing a family in shock and grief to end a pregnancy that will only harm the child and the mother? Or forcing the pregnancy to continue at the disadvantage of mother and child? I personally would be hard pressed to make the choice, having never been in this position. And here lies my problem with most of the people I see writing about this issue: you too have never been in this position, so getting on your soapbox about it is not only juvenile, but disrespectful to the women who are going through this problem, or have been through this problem without any recourse. If you have never been in this desperate state, overwhelmed by having to make this choice when you believed your pregnancy viable for six months, or almost up to term, you have no place to stand and comment. Again, it is highly unlikely that any woman who carries a baby this far into the pregnancy would choose to terminate for any reason not immediately life-threatening to either her or her child.

We need to trust women. Women who are becoming mothers need to be allowed to make choices in their and their baby’s best interest. These women aren’t murderers (a terrible epithet I’ve seen circulating) — to the contrary, most of them are trying to do what is best in the interest of their child. Is it not most prudent to give these women support and compassion? I hate to be that person, but: What would Jesus do? I think, after almost 20 years of cogent Catholicism, I can say with certainty that he would not cast a stone at these women doing their best in a cruel and imperfect world. We need to stop with the “murderer!” hyperbole–not very different than “she’s a witch!” Have some faith that these women are, under duress you probably cannot understand and pain that you cannot fathom, trying to do what is kindest and most right.

That’s enough of this for today. God keep you.

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