Thoughts on late term abortion from a labor and delivery nurse perspective

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It’s hard for me to remain calm while thinking about the insanity behind bills like the ones in Virginia and New York that seek to make normal and acceptable the act of ending the life of a late-term, pre-born human baby; and in the Virginia case, a newborn infant.  But I’m going to try to remain calm and hopefully speak some reason into the insanity from my perspective as a nurse who has worked in labor and delivery.

When I became a nurse 18 years ago I worked in a labor and delivery unit in a large county and small town in Southwest Oregon.  During my 4 years there I saw early and late gestation fetal demise (the death of an unborn child early and late in the pregnancy), full-term seemingly healthy infants die in resuscitation, deliveries of infants with serious health problems and still birth.  I also witnessed many healthy, normal deliveries.  In some of those situations when the mother’s health was at serious risk, we delivered them of their babies, often premature and then we took every measure possible to save their babies lives. Sometimes the babies lived. Sometimes they did not.  In some cases the mother had to endure the pain of labor or the pain of surgery with the torture of grieving the unexpected death of their child.  In other cases mothers experienced the pain of labor or surgery with the joy of a new life, which would soon be mixed with the pain of healing and long-sleepless nights followed by a life of self-sacrifice to raise the child.

I have read through some of the arguments of  women I respect about why they think these late-term abortion laws are needed.  The argument about women having the right to do with their body what they want without government interference I’m not going to address here except to say, I agree. It’s your body and you should have the right to care for it without interference from the government. But when you cross over from caring for your body to harming another body that’s a whole other argument. The human growing in a woman’s womb is not her body. She may not want that human growing in her body. But it’s not her body. But I digress. What I want to address here are the two arguments I keep hearing that pull at our heart strings and should be wisely considered.

It’s Not Fair to Make a Woman Suffer When Her Baby Will Die Anyway

What about the woman who’s infant is severely deformed and will die as soon as he/she is delivered?  Why should the woman have to go through the suffering and dangers of pregnancy and delivery?

When you’re in the last trimester of pregnancy, there is no way around the pain and suffering your body is going to have to endure. For that matter, no matter the stage of pregnancy, even if you miscarry (spontaneously abort) at an early gestation, you’re body is going to go through some pain and healing.  If you delivery your baby and he or she is dead or dies soon after birth or even days or weeks after birth, you’re going to suffer. Your body is going to hurt and have to heal. You’re going to go through the stages of grief and face the demons that want to destroy every postpartum woman.  And if you elect to abort, you’re going to suffer. Your body is going to hurt and have to go through the healing process. You’re going to have to deal with the emotional trauma of the death of your baby and the decision you have made.

I believe delivering a pre-term infant that is putting the health of a mom at serious risk or the election to deliver a severly deformed infant pre-term who will not survive a normal labor and delivery at full term is physically and emotionally the healthiest way to walk through the pain and suffering of death and birth together. There’s no need for an abortion. When the oath, “do no harm” is taken, the life of the mother and the child are upheld. There will be pain and delivery and death. When harm is elected as the only option to uphold one life over another, there will still be pain and delivery and death, but with the added torture of being put in a position where people think you shouldn’t grieve because you chose to have an abortion.

My point is, when it comes to pregnancy and abortion, delivering the woman of a child, whether wanted or not will come with pain and suffering, and aborting a child will also inflict upon the woman pain and suffering. Choosing to abort your late-term baby does not delivery you of pain or suffering. I believe we honor the necessary grieving process and the image of God in both the woman and the baby human when we deliver a woman of her child, not abort her child.

The Pro-Life People Are Hypocrites

What about the hypocrisy of those who say they are fighting for the rights of the unborn but then neglect to provide for the needs of unwanted children and mothers and father’s struggling under the weight of raising children?

People who make this argument as a justification for abortion are rightly inditing pro-lifers, but they’re crossing wires. It’s hypocrisy and a shame that people will march and be filled with vitriol over abortion but do nothing to care for unwanted children.

I recently wrote a post about how even the unwillingness some of us have to lower ourselves to teach children the gospel exposes our hypocrisy in our pro-life stance. But the fact that so many among the religious right, or conservative Christians fail to do what they are commanded by God to do: care for orphans and welcome children…all children, does not mean women should be empowered to end the life of their unborn child.

The blood of many of these children may very well be on the hands of us who have done nothing to care for the children lost in the foster care system and the mothers and children living in poverty and without the gospel and love of the church.  But that evil does not justify the evil of abortion.

My perspective as a labor and delivery nurse comes from a Christian ethic which says all people are created in the image of God.  That means the unborn, the severely deformed, the grieving and guilty mother, the single-mom, the teenager who’s grown up in foster care, the disabled, the foreigner, the abortionists. This ethic means I must repent of and call out the evil we do that does not reflect the image of God. It means I must take up my cross and follow Jesus in laying down my life for women and children, whether they’ve had abortions, disabilities, been abandoned, or are just tired of the daily pains and sufferings of raising children.  It means I must be willing to suffer along side those who are suffering. It means I don’t counter evil with evil, but overcome evil by doing good.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,[g] serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:9-21

 

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