When Does a Baby Stop Being a Choice?

Editor's Notes: The article was originally published in April of 2019. But I was reminded of it in the debate that has erupted this week in the wake of the leaked draft of an opinion from the Supreme Court signaling that Roe v. Wade may soon be overturned.

I woke up early this morning. Although it was a Saturday and I don't have to get up until later; however, I've got plenty in my head (work-related) and I knew that I'd be unable to fall back asleep. I attempted to get rid of the clutter from my caffeine-fueled mind by scrolling through Twitter. (I realize, it's not the best way to go.)

When I did, I looked up an article in which an individual was discussing Ohio's recent passing (and Governor Mike DeWine's signature) of the “heartbeat bill,” which bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat is able to be detected, usually at the end of 6 weeks into pregnancy. Ohio is among several states that recently passed heartbeat laws including Kentucky, Georgia, and Mississippi. Missouri's House passed a similar law in February, which bans most abortions within eight weeks. It is currently being discussed by the Missouri Senate. These bills, naturally, are in stark contrast to some of the latest abortion-related laws that have been approved in New York, Virginia, and others. Their legislation loosens restrictions on abortions in order to permit late-term (and some might argue after-term) abortions.

The thread discussed the woman's personal experience of motherhood and abortion. She shared her experiences of having 3 abortions — 1 when she was a young woman and two as she grew older and had only one son, who was a tiny boy she loved very much. I'm not skeptical about that in the least. Her remarks were clear, compelling, and enthralling. I'm sure many people who read them will sigh and refer to them as a persuasive arguments against laws aimed at restricting abortions.

We're not planning to slam her name or even publish her tweets since the message I'm about to share does not intend to call the Twitter mob on her as a whole. As compelling as her story was, it was awe-inspiring to see the mental dissonance she displayed so effortlessly. In one sentence she outlined her reason to “choosing” to have abortions as she “wasn't ready.” In the next one, she talked about the “choice” to have her son. It made me think when did he cease to be an option?

Was it the moment she noticed her son's heartbeat for the very first time? Was it when she announced the joyous news with family and friends? Was it when she found out that he was a boy? Was it the first time she began showing? Was it the first time she felt his kick? Did it happen when she picked his name? Was it during an infant shower? Was it during the time she was in labor? Was it the first time she held her baby? Did it happen when she realized she was at her best?

What was the moment she decided she was prepared? Did that make him the most wonderful child and not just a decision?

I'm not aware of any time I've ever posted about it at RedState, however, I used to have been “pro-choice.” I'd like you to read something I wrote about the subject some time ago:

I was not always an advocate for life. As I've previously mentioned, I was raised as an abolitionist and remained so until about eight years later. I've, at times, talked about the many motives behind the reasons behind my “conversion.” The tales of Rick Santorum's daughter remind me of one of the reasons.

Although my household was non-conservative and held a lot of the liberal traditional views, we never talked about abortion. I, not wanting to study the issue thoroughly, simply described myself as a person who was pro-choice even although I would not personally decide to have my child aborted. I argued that it wasn't my job to decide for another person and stayed clear of any further investigation into the subject. In reality, I'm embarrassed to admit that I felt proud of myself for having this more nuanced as well as “enlightened” view of the issue.

I was 6 weeks pregnant when the September 11th terrorist attacks took place. I've shared my thoughts about that terrible day elsewhere, and one of the most vivid memories is returning home to a call on the machine of my doctor's office the hormones in my body were not as high and I was in danger of miscarrying. They had faxed in my prescription. When I got it at the pharmacy, feeling numb from the events of the day, I read the information that included the possibility of birth defects. I rang the doctor's office in a state of panic. I was told that the benefits were greater than the risk, and that it was safe to take the medicine.

Thankfully at that point my pregnancy progressed easily. When the time came for my 20 week ultrasound and I was awestruck, my (then) spouse and I were both thrilled. While I never could read the images of the ultrasound, it was still enjoyable to watch our baby as she grew — and it was true that we discovered we were expecting a baby girl. We also realized there could be an issue. The tech told us that the ultrasound showed the choroid plexus cysts inside the brain of our infant, and we were able to contact the genetic expert to speak with us.

Although not conclusive, it is believed to be a connection in the presence of cysts and a condition known as “Trisomy 18”, which is a genetic disorder where there is a third copy of chromosome 18 present. We were informed that the majority of children affected by this disorder die within the first few days or hours after the birth. People who live with the condition have severe health issues and have a poor life expectancy. We were informed that the amniocentesis test could confirm whether our baby was suffering from this condition. We were given time to think about the alternatives.

I knew that amniocentesis carries the potential for risk I was aware that there was one in 200 chance it will cause miscarriage. My husband and I discussed the issue and I was constantly asking myself, “So what am I going to do if the test confirms she has this?” And I realized that in a flash that I had no choice.There was no world in which I would ever decide to end the pregnancy regardless of what the test results showed. There was simply no need to take the risk of an amnio.

Fortunately, even though my daughter did experience other problems due to arriving six weeks earlier than expected, she did not, as it turned out, have any genetic problems which is why she is happy, healthy, almost-10-year-old. However, having to make this decision, even if it was a theoretical one, was an important move in my path to becoming pro-life. It was, in fact, my child I was contemplating and, I'd always believed I'd never make the decision to terminate the pregnancy. However, being forced to consider the issue in more concrete terms required me to consider what it meant to others. It was not easy to put it in the realm of abstraction any longer.

When I go through the stories of the Santorums and their Bella, I am awed by their dedication to their children and life in the most difficult and challenging forms. My heart is with their family, and to every family with children who are severely sick. God bless them for being able to unconditionally love their daughter and for completely embracing life. I believe Rick Santorum put it best: “While Bella's life may not be long, and though she requires our constant care, she is worth every tear.”

My daughter wasn't the type of “choice.” She was, and remains, an absolute delight, even when her 17-year old self is sabotaging my patience with a vengeance — an incredible gift.

The woman who posted her experience on Twitter evidently has given a lot of thought about abortion and the implications to her as a social issue and also personally. Like I mentioned, I do not doubt the fact that she is a mother and cherishes her son. But I'm curious whether she's ever considered asking herself, when did he cease to be a decision?

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