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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Regarding the baby

We were recently asked the question what we would do if we found out our baby, who has been diagnosed with a birth defect the doctors say will mean certain death outside the womb, was placing my (the mother's) life in significant danger.

First of all, I would like to note that choosing between a mother's life and a baby's life is actually quite a rare occurance, though abortion activists would like you to think otherwise. There are many times in pregnancy when the mother's life could be in significant danger such as eclampsia (extreme high blood pressure) and other such occurances. However, most life-threatening situations actually caused by the pregnancy in which delivering the baby would make things better occur late enough in the pregnancy where the baby can be delivered and survive. In fact, the age of viability outside the womb is 24 weeks gestation and sometimes babies survive even earlier. In Pennsylvania, you can abort your child up to this point. There is also a clause in many states (not sure if PA is one of them) where abortion is legal after 24 weeks if "the mother's life is in danger." This makes no sense to me because the baby doesn't have to be killed at this point and could actually survive. I realize there are exceptions when parents do need to make difficult decisions regarding a child who is not viable outside the womb and the well-being of the mother such as cancer growth and things of that nature where treatment cannot be given during pregnancy, and I don't mean to minimize that. But it is a very rare occurance when the decision must be made early in pregnancy and when waiting a few weeks will mean certain death.

But back to the original question, I think we would begin with a lot of prayer. When you believe your child is an eternal soul, you wish to do right by that child as much as you can and so the decision would not be made that much easier because of this birth defect. In fact, what I would probably begin with is thinking about the decision as if I didn't know the baby's condition. If I knew nothing was wrong with the baby I was carrying and my life was being put in significant danger, my decision would probably be to carry the baby until at least 24 weeks (which at our current point, is only about 6 more weeks) and then deliver the baby. If it was then born with the defect (we are still praying for a miracle), we would not attempt extreme life-saving measures as we would if the child was born perfectly formed.

4 Comments:

At 11:40 AM, March 03, 2005, Blogger Molly said...

Rachel, I really appreciate your comments and your openness.

In particular, one thing that struck me in your post was your comment that your baby is an "eternal soul." In many ways, I think that this is what makes a decision and experience like yours so difficult. Even though you can't see and talk to your baby, you know that its life is priceless (to you and to God), and so decisions that impact it are not to be made lightly.

If you'll allow me to be crass for a few seconds... if we did not believe that human life had value because people are made in God's image, the decision would/should be analogous to getting rid of an old toaster that doesn't work anymore. Perhaps somebody will disagree with me, but I believe that the ONLY way we can affirm that life has value is by seeing that this value derives from God himself. On what other basis is there for us to concretely "quantify" life's value?

I wonder if this is why people have reacted so differently to Hunter Thompson's suicide. Those who believe that Hunter was made in God's image see the destruction of his life as something tragic and thoroughly contrary to how the world should operate. Those who value life on a subjective basis can at best laud Hunter for dying in a way that was consistent with his life.

Back to your baby, I thought of you and Ryan yesterday when I saw an ad for a National Geographic show this coming Sunday night called "In the Womb." With amazing technology (4D ultrasound, which shows movement), they're going to show how a baby in-utero sucks its thumb, smiles, yawns, blinks, etc ... Even though you may never be able to see your baby respond to you, I thought this might encourage you that he or she can interact with you in a very real way.

I continue to pray for all four of you...

 
At 1:17 PM, March 03, 2005, Blogger Marilyn said...

I agree with Random Mind. The question posed put me in mind of a situation which occurred in our hometown of Billings, Montana. There was a young woman there who found out that she had cancer when she was early on in a pregnancy. She and her husband prayed a lot about it and decided against getting any treatment for her cancer until after the baby was born. She knew that this could mean almost certain death to herself. She carried the baby full term, delivered it, and then died shortly thereafter. In that case she chose her baby's life over her own. A difficult decision, at best. But as Random Mind put it, if we see them as eternal souls, the decision making process is drastically different than if we see them as "an old toaster".

I too want to affirm your willingness to be open with all of us. My family is also praying along with you for a miracle and for strength and grace for each and every day.

 
At 7:38 PM, March 03, 2005, Blogger Christian said...

Hey Rachel - just wanted to echo what's already been said. Thanks so much for sharing, and please continue to do so. I think we can all learn from you guys by watching you deal with this hard time...

Blessings.

 
At 1:16 PM, March 04, 2005, Blogger Nana said...

Rachel
I am so thankful to God for the thoughtful, prayerfilled, loving care you and Ryan are taking of my grandchild. I'm also very glad to see you writing. For many of us it is as good as crying to get some of the pain out of our hearts. I love you.

 

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