When Abortion Saves The Mother’s Life


Recently, Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh tried to take a hard line on abortion by saying abortion was never necessary to save a woman’s life. I wish I was making this up. Here’s what he actually said according to the Chicago Tribune:

“With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance,” Walsh declared in comments to reporters after a televised debate Thursday night against Democrat Tammy Duckworth in the northwest suburban 8th District race.

By Friday those comments had created a firestorm, and tea party icon Walsh was in damage-control mode. At a hastily called news conference, the freshman congressman backed off that sweeping assertion, slightly, acknowledging “very rare circumstances” where lifesaving abortions might be required.
He’s wrong. He is factually wrong. Incorrect. Pregnancy is sometimes lethal. So is labor and delivery. It’s much less likely to end in a woman’s death now but it can still be deadly. And while the vast majority of pregnancies pose no danger to the mother, some do.
One of my readers has such a story to tell. She asked me to share it without using her name. Here is her story, in her own words. May Mr. Walsh read it and learn from it.

Dear Rep. Walsh,

In November of 2008, I had an abortion. That was the medical term for it. It was a devastating experience. It has made me loathe the word “choice,” when it comes to abortion.

My husband and I desperately wanted to be parents. We had been trying for nearly a year. We had experienced the loss of a pregnancy in June. So when we found out I was pregnant during a routine screening at a doctor’s appointment, we were thrilled! My husband cut a business trip short to fly to me so we could celebrate. We laughed and danced and talked about the little life inside me and how it was going to change our lives.

A week later, I experienced extreme pain and spotting. I went to the ER. An ultrasound confirmed the worst for us. The baby had implanted on one of my Fallopian tubes. There was no way it could possibly survive. And if it continued to grow, it was likely I would die.

Die. Death. It wasn’t a worst case scenario. It was a likely outcome.

The only way to save my life was to end the pregnancy. I was told it would be simple: just a shot and a few days of rest.

It was not simple for me. There was no choice. I didn’t get to decide. I already loved this baby. I was his mother. I had an overwhelming instinct to protect the life inside me. I wanted there to be a miracle. I prayed. I begged. I attempted to bargain with God. I cried. I tried to talk the doctors into trying to move the baby or to try ANYTHING. I was willing to do ANYTHING. But I had no CHOICE. My options were to refuse the procedure and kill us both or end the pregnancy and go on to hopefully have other children.

I was injected with methotrexate, a chemotherapy drug. I went home and crawled into bed. I placed my hands on my womb and talked to my child. I apologized for not being a better mom. I sang to him and told him he was loved and wanted and cherished. I promised I would be the best mom I could be for the brothers and sisters he was sacrificing his life for.

Our baby’s sacrifice was not for naught. We now have 2 beautiful, healthy children. A boy and a girl. They are loved and cherished and wanted just like their lost siblings before them. I don’t know that I will ever share this experience with them. I don’t think it’s necessary to pass on their parents’ anguish. I will honor their lost siblings by celebrating life: theirs and mine.

I had an abortion. It wasn’t a choice.

-Anonymous mother in Chicago.

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2 comments for “When Abortion Saves The Mother’s Life

  1. October 29, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Sending thoughts and prayers to the reader who sent it to you. I think it’s ridiculous, even in cases of rape or risk for the health of the mother, to not be willing to acquiesce that these are exceptions. I know that Romney has said his position is to exclude those cases, but some of the things that Paul Ryan has said are extremely concerning.

    The biggest thing here is that some of these politicians completely lack empathy for the woman’s position – she is just a vessel for life.

    Huge disconnect between the issues women have to confront and those who feel they can determine our decisions destinies.

  2. Alan
    October 29, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    I don’t know Mr. Walsh’s position, and this is unlikely to change anyone’s opinion on abortion rights, but it’s interesting that the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians “does not consider treatment of ectopic pregnancy by standard surgical or medical procedures to be the moral equivalent of elective abortion.” (http://www.aaplog.org/position-and-papers/what-is-aaplog%E2%80%99s-position-on-treatment-of-ectopic-pregnancy/)

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