There Should NEVER be Shame with Infant Loss: My Opinion on "Late-Term Abortion"

This may very well be the hardest, but one of the more important posts I write. 

I feel the need to share my feelings surrounding the "late-term abortion" (a term I hate) controversy. 

Let me start first with stating that I do not believe in abortion as a means of birth control. If you consciously choose to have sex, you should know that pregnancy is always a possible outcome (hello, did you have a high school Health class? Sex=babies) and you should be prepared to deal with that consequence. That being said, I also believe that it isn't necessarily my place to tell other people how to live their life.  However, as someone considering adoption as a way to have a family, if you did choose to have sex and an unwanted pregnancy resulted I would hope that you would find a family to give your child to. Now, in cases of rape, where sex was not a young woman's choice, and she becomes pregnant, I firmly believe she should not have to extend the pain of her experience by continuing a pregnancy.  Now, that covers my beliefs on abortion. Moving on to the actual subject at hand.

Over a year ago, our 20 week target ultrasound revealed our son Max had several birth defects and that his central nervous system was poorly developed due to hydrocephalus and a meningocele at the base of his cerebellum. We were asked to research, meet with doctors, and have extensive tests to determine the likelihood of his compatibility with life. Through counseling with each other, physicians, and the Lord we felt confident that Max could survive to delivery and, with intensive care and surgeries, possibly live for a time after birth. We were lucky enough, that he was able to survive 5 incredible weeks. We were lucky enough to decide when and how his life ended. We were blessed. Not all parents have that opportunity.

I was not offended when our doctor explained to us that we could discontinue the pregnancy if we needed to. I understood what that meant. If we were told that Max was not compatible with life, if we knew he could not survive until delivery, then we deserved to be able to make the choice ourselves on when and how we got to meet our son. I'm grateful every day that we did not have to make that decision during pregnancy. I cannot imagine the heartbreaking pain that parents who endure that must feel. It hurts me more to think of the shame they are forced to face and endure from people who do not understand what it is like to lose a child. 

These parents who endure "late-term abortion" are not having it done because they waited until they were nearing the 3rd trimester to decide they actually didn't want a baby. These parents are doing the best they can to get through the pain of losing their son or daughter. Either the baby's life or the mother's, or both, are at risk and a decision has to be made. That decision is not made lightly or easily, and it shouldn't involve anyone but them, their physicians, and their God.

I am grateful every day that my sweet son did survive to delivery, was successfully resuscitated after the umbilical cord was cut, and miraculously lived for the following 5 weeks. Our greatest fear was that he would die before he was born, or that after birth he would die in some traumatizing way or in our absence. I would call the NICU throughout the night, always holding my breath before the nurse could tell me how he was doing. In all of our conferences on his care, our number one priority was, that when it came to Max's death, we wanted it to be peaceful and on our terms. I wish SO much that all parents of struggling infants were allowed that mercy. 

When Max's shunt failed and a central nervous system infection became apparent, the doctors gave us some options for trying to still extend his life. Those options did not offer us a guarantee that he would survive, or that we could control how he died. We could not continue taking these life-saving measures. We could not let his suffering continue any longer. So, we chose to let him die in the best way we could manage for him and for us. 

That was the hardest decision we have ever made- to decide to let our son die.

We were given comfort, support and time to gather our families. We were allowed to decide when to turn off the machines that kept him alive. We were allowed to hold him and love him, and let him die peacefully in our arms. We were blessed to make that decision for ourselves, and no one condemned us for it. Yet, there are parents who have to make that difficult decision to end the life of their suffering child before birth and then they are villainized. And I can't sit back and not say anything about it anymore, because it hurts me so much. 

No one has the right to make grieving parents feel bad for letting their sick and suffering child die peacefully. To call it a "late-term abortion" is degrading and makes it sound so horrible. These babies are delivered, not "ripped out" like some would describe. It is unfair and wrong for anyone to make these parents feel guilty while they grieve the loss of their child. 

I would hope and pray that they could be offered the same love and support as parents who lose their infants after delivery. There should NEVER be shame involved with infant loss.