This Is What Anti-Abortion Extremism Looks Like

humanautomaton

You think you’ve seen it? Well, I’m sure you have. So have I. But nothing I have read in recent memory encapsulates it as well as Steven Ertelt’s response, at the very inaptly named Life News, to this op-ed in today’s New York Times by Judy NiCastro, describing her experience with abortion at 23 weeks. Briefly, she was carrying twins — a boy and a girl — that she and her husband very much wanted, but at 20 weeks an ultrasound appeared to show that one of the twins — the boy — had all of his organs growing in his chest. Further testing confirmed the doctor’s initial diagnosis. NiCastro and her husband still wanted their son to be born — IF his condition was treatable, and he would have a good quality of life. Picking up from that point, NiCastro writes:

Once we had all the data, we met with a nurse, a surgeon and a pediatrician at the hospital. The surgeon said our boy had a hole in his diaphragm. Only one lung chamber had formed, and it was only 20 percent complete. If our boy survived birth, he would be on oxygen and other life supports for a long time. The thought of hearing him gasp for air and linger in pain was our nightmare.

The surgeon described interventions that would give our son the best chance of surviving birth. But the pediatrician could tell that we were looking for candid guidance. He cautioned that medical ethics constrained what he could say, then added, “Termination is a reasonable option, and a reasonable option that I can support.” The surgeon and nurse nodded in agreement. I burst out sobbing. My husband cried, too. But in a sense, the pediatrician’s words were a source of comfort and kindness. He said what we already knew. But we needed to hear it from professionals, who knew we were good parents who wanted what was best for our children.

The next day, at a clinic near my home, I felt my son’s budding life end as a doctor inserted a needle through my belly into his tiny heart. She had trouble finding it because of its abnormal position. As horrible as that moment was — it will live with me forever — I am grateful. We made sure our son was not born only to suffer. He died in a warm and loving place, inside me.

In having the abortion, we took a risk that my body would expel both fetuses, and that we would lose our daughter too. In fact, I asked if we could postpone the abortion until the third trimester, by which time my daughter would have been almost fully developed; my doctor pointed out that abortions after 24 weeks were illegal. Thankfully, Kaitlyn was born, healthy and beautiful, on March 2, 2011, and we love her to pieces. My little boy partially dissolved into me, and I like to think his soul is in his sister.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted to ban abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy, based on the disputed theory that fetuses at that stage are capable of feeling pain. The measure has no chance of passage in the Senate. But it is part of a trend toward restricting second- and even first-trimester abortions. Ten states have banned most abortions after 20 or 22 weeks; Arkansas, after 12; and North Dakota, after 6. Some of these laws are being challenged in court.

While some of these new restrictions allow exceptions for fetal genetic defects, second-trimester abortions must remain legal because, until a child is viable outside the womb, these decisions belong with the mother. I don’t know if Roe v. Wade will be overturned in my lifetime, but the chipping away of abortion rights is occurring at an astounding pace. I share my story in the hope that our leaders will be more responsible and compassionate when they weigh what it means to truly value the lives of women and children.

When I clicked on the link to Ertelt’s article, I certainly had no illusions that he would understand or support the choice NiCastro and her husband made. I knew he would say she should have had this doomed baby whose life, if he even survived the first days or weeks after birth, would be spent attached to oxygen support gasping for breath. But I admit, I did have a naive expectation that he would have maybe one sentence saying something like, ‘Obviously, this was a heartbreaking situation, and I do have sympathy for them.’

Like I said, I was naive. First of all, the piece is titled, “Writer: No Regret For Aborting My Twin Baby Boy at 23 Weeks.” Then, the article itself, which I quote here in full:

A writer in the New York Times today shared her shocking story of have an abortion of her twin unborn baby boy at 23 weeks.

Judy Nicastro, a former member of the Seattle city council, begins her piece this way:

I believe that parenthood starts before conception, at the moment you decide you want a child, and are ready and able to create a safe and loving home for her or him. I support abortion rights, but I reject the false distinction between the terms “pro-choice” and “pro-life.”

Nicastro goes on to explain that she and her husband learned they were pregnant with a wanted child at 6 weeks, and found out they were carrying twins — a boy and a girl.

But in my 20th week, during an ultrasound, the technician looked concerned, and we got the first hint that something might be wrong. The next day, a Friday, my obstetrician called to say that the technician had had a hard time seeing the heart of the male fetus. “It is probably just the position,” she reassured me. I wasn’t reassured.

On Monday, I had a second ultrasound and my husband and I spent two hours — it felt like an eternity — with a different doctor and technician. “It looks as if the boy has a herniated diaphragm,” they told us. “All the organs are in his chest and not developing.”

I began sobbing. What did that mean? Would the organs move? Was my baby “fixable”? The clinic staff members were reluctant to tell us how bad it was. They said I needed an M.R.I., which would provide more details.

My world stopped. I loved being pregnant with twins and trying to figure out which one was where in my uterus. Sometimes it felt like a party in there, with eight limbs moving. The thought of losing one child was unbearable.

The M.R.I., at Seattle Children’s Hospital, confirmed our fears: the organs were pushed up into our boy’s chest and not developing properly. We were in the 22nd week. In Washington State, abortion is legal until the 24th week.

After a discussion with her husband about her child’s condition, they agree to have an abortion.

The next day, at a clinic near my home, I felt my son’s budding life end as a doctor inserted a needle through my belly into his tiny heart. She had trouble finding it because of its abnormal position. As horrible as that moment was — it will live with me forever — I am grateful. We made sure our son was not born only to suffer. He died in a warm and loving place, inside me.

Nicastro goes on to admit the abortion could have killed or injured her daughter, too.

In having the abortion, we took a risk that my body would expel both fetuses, and that we would lose our daughter too. In fact, I asked if we could postpone the abortion until the third trimester, by which time my daughter would have been almost fully developed; my doctor pointed out that abortions after 24 weeks were illegal. Thankfully, Kaitlyn was born, healthy and beautiful, on March 2, 2011, and we love her to pieces. My little boy partially dissolved into me, and I like to think his soul is in his sister.

The writer defends abortion and oppose the late-term abortion ban the House approved this week.

But when it comes to aborting a twin, she might consider Claire’s story. She is the survivor of an abortion on her twin.

Claire Culwell knows what it’s like to be a survivor. At the age of 13, her mother learned she was pregnant and decided to have an abortion, though she didn’t know she was pregnant with twins.

After she had an abortion of Claire’s brother, she returned to the abortion clinic after realizing she still had a growing and developing baby inside of her. Told she was too late to have a second abortion, she gave birth to Claire, who struggled on life support as she dealt with a myriad of medical issues following her birth.

Despite the obstacles she has had to overcome, Claire is actively sharing her story — urging people to choose life instead of abortion.

Nicastro should also consider Courtney. Seventeen years ago this week, Courtney was born after her twin brother was aborted earlier in their birthmother’s pregnancy.  After the abortion was completed and her twin lost his life, Courtney’s birthmother chose life for her, after it was discovered that she was carrying her.

I mean, where does one begin with this? The circumstances of these two other women Ertelt says NiCastro “should consider” bear no similarity whatsoever to the circumstances of NiCastro’s pregnancy except that they all involved twins. It’s like Ertelt doesn’t even appear to register that one of NiCastro’s twins had a grave physical defect completely incompatible with life! These two other women had exactly the same decision to make as NiCastro did, because…. twins! All of her fetus’s organs growing in his chest – what are you talking about? Where was THAT in NiCastro’s piece?

I mean, it’s like this man is an automaton, a robot, some kind of machine — and a dysfunctional one at that, one that can not respond to or process new or different information but can only repeat the same message over and over and over again: CHOOSE . LIFE …. beep …. CHOOSE. LIFE …. beep …. CHOOSE. LIFE …. beep …. CHOOSE. LIFE …. beep ….

Steven Ertelt’s brain and heart are presumably located in the appropriate places, but they are hollow and non-functional other than in the most literal of senses.

PLEASE, “pro-lifers.” Do not EVER tell me that someone like this values human life. We’re in the territory of extreme religious and political fanaticism here, where only desiccated hearts and minds can exist.

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