You published many good letters on Dec. 11 in response to the current abortion debate, but one requires further comment. This is a difficult and personal story to share, but I feel a moral imperative to share it.
In the letter “Woman’s choice is vital, but doctor overstepped in advising on pursuit of an abortion,” Lisa Blumberg argues that a doctor who was mentioned in a recent Joan Vennochi column erred in recommending that a patient whose tests revealed fetal anomalies should seek an abortion.
Twenty-six years ago, I came as close as one can to dying in childbirth.
In no way do I regret giving birth to my daughter. I loved her. I miss her and grieve for her every day. But it’s important now to share the danger I faced in carrying her to term and the lifelong effects of this type of pregnancy.
My daughter’s birth defect, like most, was rare. Each rare birth defect on its own accounts for a small population. But taken together, they make up a number that should be considered seriously when we talk about women’s health. And please consider this: It isn’t rare when it happens to you.
The severity of my daughter’s defect was difficult to predict at the time. Only one doctor advised me to consider terminating the pregnancy (“It would be safer for you if you would,” she said). But as we researched the condition and met with specialists across the country, not one adequately mentioned the risk I was taking.
I urge Blumberg and others to reconsider the impulse to reprimand doctors who care about women’s health to the degree that they take an active role in it. Most women in the world do not have the world-class health care I received, and still I suffered.
The nod that laws make to “exceptions where the mother’s life is in danger” is perilously insufficient, if not sometimes disingenuous.
I still carry the physical scars and cope with the psychological fallout of my painful pregnancy, the near-death, the trauma of fighting for the life of a daughter whose body was not designed to survive, and the grief from losing a child I had a chance to love.
Others are not so lucky.