Child Loss: Why We Can't Speak About Abortion

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

know some people who've recently begun following my blog and liking my Facebook page are not loss parents, but people who've found me through pro-life advocacy groups.

That's great. I am first and foremost a pro-life advocate. It's one of the first words in my description, and it's the reason I write extensively about pro-life legislation pertaining to late-term abortion.

I continued my pregnancy with Beatrix not just because of my religious convictions, but because when viewed rationally the pro-abortion argument in favor of termination due to birth defects crumbles: 

Terminating a pregnancy due to a child's potential disability, or shortened life-span, is ethically and morally wrong, no matter what creed you profess. If you're pro-life, I'll assume you agree. 

I'm glad you've found me. I hope giving you a little glimpse into the reality of continuing a pregnancy after receiving a diagnosis will help you respond with compassion and truth, when you are faced with the opportunity to support someone who has received a diagnosis.

On that note, this post is geared more towards those who have followed me/read my words for the entire scope of my journey -- those loss moms who cried along with me during the first and second years of my bereavement, and especially those who think I've become a drag, or a poor representation of a loss mom:

If the current writing trend bothers you, I am truly sorry. I don't mean to offend you. If you've been wavering about continuing to follow me because of my focus on abortion, please just read this post. Maybe after seeing things from a different perspective, you'll be a little more understanding.

Those of us who have lost children know there is a very, very large community of child-loss families who have created significant connections through social media. 

Those of you who haven't lost children have no idea how large of a group this is. 

I certainly didn't know, until I lost my child. I think our underground culture would shock many people who live in the "normal" world. 

We are a community which spans time, with women whose losses happened decades ago and those whose losses happened just yesterday. 

We are a community which crosses racial, societal, and political boundaries: it's difficult to be hateful to a woman who's sharing the loss of her child with you. Because of Google translate, we can overcome language barriers, and have conversations with grieving mothers halfway across the world in real time.

We are the most giving of women- donating miscarriage boxes to hospitals, cutting up our wedding gowns for burial shrouds, and giving hours of our time for phone and in person heart to heart talks, with a mom whose baby has just died.

The baby loss community is one of the most kind and giving I've ever belonged to.

But it has a few flaws.

I've already written about the unwelcoming place it can be for a Christian family, and today I'd like to write about how we are discouraged from speaking out against termination for medical reasons. 

Because this is a thing.

Anyone dealing with grieving mothers knows you must keep any negativity out of conversations. Feelings are so incredibly raw that most moms can't deal with any adverse conversation, especially in the initial stages of grief

This means those of us who continue our pregnancies after a prenatal diagnosis are denied the opportunity to genuinely grieve our losses in the context of our experience. We are gently discouraged from critically detailing the stories of physicians who mistreated us, or the significant others and family members who pressured us to end our pregnancies. Most importantly, we can't speak about our sorrow when hearing of another mother who ended her pregnancy after receiving a diagnosis similar to our baby's, no matter how deeply we grieve their decision.

We are permitted to share our experience, as long as it's within the parameters the community approves of, as long as we don't share all of our story.  

I would like to clarify one thought: I am not speaking about chastising or shaming mothers who've chosen to end their pregnancies. 

I would never shame someone for their choice, but I believe it's inappropriate to stifle honest discussion about this subject in articles and personal writings. When we do this, as the baby-loss community seemingly does, we're choosing to validate one position over another. 

I have been writing for six years now, and I have always been cautious about posting too much about choosing life, even on my own blog. I know I'll be seen as fanatical, or worse "too religious".... But my loss story was profoundly affected by those who choose to terminate. We were harassed and belittled for continuing our pregnancy -- by medical professionals. I wrote HERE about how other's decision to terminate affected a friend's experience of carrying to term. This is just one example from the many stories available.

In other words, the carry to term experience is often negatively affected by those who choose to terminate. But we can't speak about that. 

It's seen as cruel.

In addition, the majority of loss moms who do not voluntarily end the lives of their children, are expected to treat termination as the equivalent to their involuntary losses, regardless of their personal feelings on the subject. When Still Standing Magazine posted an article featuring women who had terminated for medical reasons, an overwhelming number of women were outraged at having the termination experience featured in a magazine which was created to support grieving mothers. Virtually all of the negative comments about this article were removed, and only supportive commentary was left. This small segment of loss moms -- moms who chose to end the lives of their children -- controlled the message that day. And the message they controlled and shared hit directly at those of us who carried to term: the message was "I was brave enough to let my child go, so that my child didn't suffer."

I'd like to clarify: this is not a rational argument. All of us understand what late-term abortion entails. The anger and frustration you feel when someone brings this up is the result of cognitive dissonance, not righteous indignation for the terminating mother. We know that there is no question of a baby feeling pain after 24 weeks.... Because babies are born living at 24 weeks, and they feel pain.

In contrast, virtually every carry to term parent utilizes the best in palliative care for their child- and often women will voluntarily choose a c-section to spare their child birth trauma. 

There is no suffering involved with a carry to term birth. 

There is suffering involved in a late-term abortion.

To characterize those of us who choose to continue these pregnancies as the agressors is an inaccurate characterization of what's really happening.

Even in our carry to term groups, an occasional post regarding a mother's sadness in reading a late-term abortion account will inevitably be commented on by a pro-choice member. The comments usually run in the vein of: 

"Stop judging other women."

"Everyone should have a choice."

Essentially, the pro-life, carry to term mom is silenced even in pro-life, carry to term communities.

At this point, we need to be honest with ourselves. 

Most mothers who choose to continue their pregnancies are pro-life. 

Most who choose to end their pregnancies are pro-choice

There should be no surprise, then, when those of us who choose to birth our children come out with strong pro-life stances. The only people who seem to be baffled by this, are pro-choice loss parents.

I think it's time to acknowledge that it's not my (our) "politics", "fanaticism", or "religion" which are stifling. 

We aren't allowing our politics to silence others. We generally support all loss moms, even if we disagree with them. In the end, all loss is loss. Rarely will you see a pro-life mom call out a pro-choice mom in any setting. 

(The exception is when a pro-choice mom comments on how she's saving her child pain. Because this is inaccurate, and characterizes us as brutal, selfish women. It implies we are child abusers, only concerned with our own wants and needs.)

This is part of why I've begun writing more about pro-choice/pro-life issues in regards to carrying to term. Someone must be honest about this, and let other moms know that it's ok to have an opinion which is different than what's "acceptable".

And now, for the grieving mom who has terminated her pregnancy:

If you, the pro-choice loss mom who disagrees with me, still feel that this is an invalid response I can only ask one thing: when you come across the story of a mom who continues her pregnancy, please make the decision to refrain from commenting on her posts. 

Refrain from letting her know how you feel about her decision. 

Refrain from sharing how everyone should have a right to make a choice for themselves. 

Refrain from sharing your story of termination. 

Refrain from mentioning pain and suffering. 

Because I'm not seeing a whole lot of empathy from the pro-choice crowd. I'm seeing people calling our children monsters. I'm seeing pro-choice loss parents who feel it's necessary to "school" pro-life moms. Moms who have terminated feel offended by the positive accounts of carry to term families, and they make sure those families know that the carry to term  experience is an anomaly. They want everyone on that comment thread to know that they are the better mom, because they didn't let their child "suffer".

Again- the anger isn't about indignation, it's about cognitive dissonance. It's about having to justify a decision which people find unsavory.

And I'm sorry, but for some of you, I think it's about understanding that suffering is treatable, and abortion is brutal, and maybe the choice you made wasn't the best option.

This is honesty.

It's the facts as they stand.

We aren't going after you. We don't leave comments on your blogs, and we don't hurl insults at you when you post in loss groups. We usually stay silent until someone brings up suffering... and our answer to that is a response to the question of suffering, not a judgement on the mom who chose to end her child's life. I know this is an unpopular opinion. I know it doesn't belong in the realm of "baby loss", where we're all just supposed to hold hands and close our eyes to the differences between us. Unfortunately, some of us have never been comfortable closing our eyes, and at this point we'd like to claim our stake in this baby-loss community.

Because in the current political climate, our voices are being drowned out.

As I said before, it's not about shaming anyone. It's about letting everyone express their grief in equal measure, and being hindered from certain subjects to be brought up (particularly in pro-life, carry to term groups).

It's about saying that our position in this debate is just as worth speaking about, and is a valid one. There is nothing shameful about carrying to term. There is nothing shameful about disagreeing with the choice to end a pregnancy. There is nothing shameful about being open about your feelings.

To end this: would I bring this up in a post-loss, mixed experience grief group? Of course not. Grief groups are for mourning our children, however they have died.

I wanted to at least address this here, because it's been laying on my heart for a long time now. I understand abortion is an unsavory subject to some, and too political or religious for others. I'm sorry to see you go, if that's what you choose..... But I will continue to write about both loss and pro-life issues pertaining to carrying to term. There are too many moms out there who feel shut out. Who have been (essentially) accused of being monsters who allowed their child to suffer. This is just my explanation of why you may see more moms choosing to be vocal about their pro-life leanings.

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