A few weeks ago, a post made by a woman in Utah began circulating around on Facebook. In her post, she recounts the traumatic experience of when her twins died shortly after an emergency C-section, and urges the public to discount all they have heard about late-term abortions from particular candidates. Though her Facebook post was intended to be political, I am going to cut all mentions of particular candidates for the sake of focus. I am really glad that I saved her original post because it has since been modified. Here is the original post. I feel no qualms about openly discussing it since she says in her final statement “This post is public. Please share.” Will do Ma’am!
“I HAD A LATE TERM ABORTION. IT IS NOTHING LIKE DESCRIBED BY [CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL FIGURE]. PLEASE DON’T BASE YOUR VOTE ON THE FEAR MONGERING HE IS DOING. PLEASE READ MY EXPERIENCE:
I had to have a late term abortion. It was the worst moment in my life. What made it even worse was the State of Utah had made it illegal.
I had one dead twin. The other had severe Spina Bifida. It was so bad that his brain had developed outside his head, and his spine was open clear to the lumbar level. There was ZERO hope, and no medical miracle that could save him. Our dreams were shattered. These twins were from IVF. I was forty, and there would be no more pregnancies.
I lay on the hospital floor, bawling hysterically, for twelve hours, waiting for an ethics committee of the health care corporation to decide my case justified what had to be done. My health was in danger due to the dead fetus. My husband and I consulted our LDS Bishop, who assured me I needed to do what I had to do, that it was even within LDS guidelines to do so. He reminded me I had six kids (a blended family) at home who needed their mother to live.
The abortion was terrible. It was done very gently, by Caesarean section, leaving the babies in their amniotic sacs. The living baby passed very quickly.
It was horrific. I think it even affected my dear physician, as he had never had to end a pregnancy before. I developed PTSD for which I had to be treated for years, mostly because of the fact I had to have it at all.
No woman should have to have the state have a say in the most painful decision she will ever make. Nobody is tearing babies apart in late term. They are always humanely done, only in situations where there is a non-viable or severely defective fetus and/or the mother’s health is at risk.
Please don’t vote for a candidate or a party that would make these decisions for the women who will die or be forced to carry unviable fetuses to term. This is a decision that is so painful and so terrible. Only the parents of the baby and a physician should be involved in the decision.
This post is public. Please share it.”
I had to give myself a few weeks to write a response to this post, out of fear that my emotion would creep in, in an unhealthy way. Though this post was made publicly, and she encouraged it to be shared, it was clearly not meant as a discussion starter. It was intended as a discussion stopper. There is no way to disagree without looking like an insensitive jerk who is further traumatizing an already traumatized woman. However, here are 4 main things I learned through this post.
1) There is a time to answer, and a time to remain silent.
People seem to fall into the trap of either trying to engage every debate, or staying completely out of the debate. Both strategies are equally flawed. So how do we address such an obviously pressurized post? What does wisdom say?
First, know when your buttons are being pushed. If your emotional buttons are hot, that is a perfect time to wait to respond. This post was frustrating for me personally, namely because of the topic. It is highly emotional on both sides of the aisle. But for me, it was compounded by how outlandish the nature of her claims became. (Really? Your personal experience has given you knowledge into how and why all late-term abortions are performed?) It so clearly needed a response, but I was not able to respond with gentleness, and so I have waited until now. #StillSmallVoice (I highly recommend listening to it.)
Secondly, we need to realize that there is a person behind ideologies. When scripture describes dangerous ideas, it often describes them with hostage terminology. Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 says “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” We are either taken captive by bad ideologies, or we take them captive. Them’s the choices. We are called to demolish ideas, not people. But just like any hostage situation, if there is not a clear shot, don’t pull the trigger. Our goal should be to never injure the hostage. Remember, our war is not against flesh and blood. My beef is not with this woman, nor with any other individual who shared and/or agreed with her post.
What we have here is a woman made in the image of God who has suffered and who is hurting. In this instance, addressing her directly (or over facebook) would be inappropriate. The abortion discussion is one that was forced upon her through a traumatic experience, and she needs to be treated with the same love and care as anyone who has PTSD. I have no doubt that she wasn’t lying about it. If she were a close friend with whom I had built trust, then maybe. But she is not, so I have not engaged.
Difficult conversations should always be had in the context of relationship. However, that does not absolve us from our duty to stand for human rights in the public arena. My heart grieves for this woman and for the immense suffering she has experienced as a result of losing not just one, but two children. Undoubtedly, those twins and that horrific night enter her mind every single day. However, my heart also grieves for the 1.4 billion human babies who have been killed worldwide since 1980 due to abortion policies. (That’s billion, not million.) There are bigger issues here than individual stories. There are no easy solutions in the abortion debate, and anyone that pretends that there are is not being honest. (For more details on the death toll of abortion, check out my husband’s article “Abortion is the Worst Thing Ever… Literally.”)
2) If one’s definition of abortion can equally describe both abortion and childbirth, it is a bad definition
I am really glad that I copy/pasted her post when I did, because she has since changed it. She has since gone on the defense (as have others who have reposted her statements) defending that what she described was indeed an abortion. I have to admit, that was my first question when I read it. “Is this even an abortion?”
The definition that is being posted is from the internet definition of abortion:
My question here is “How is this different from childbirth?” Childbirth is a deliberate termination of a pregnancy. One could point to the “first 28 weeks” part of the definition. I have known of children born prior to 28 weeks who remained in the ICU for several weeks (or months) and survived. Would we consider them botched abortions? Of course not! However, according to the above definition we could. If your definition of abortion can equally describe abortion and birth, then I would strongly recommend rethinking your definition.
The fallacy at play here is something called “the equivocation fallacy.” Equivocation fallacy is defined as “Using an ambiguous term in more than one sense, thus making an argument misleading.” Saying that abortion “is a termination of a pregnancy” no matter when it occurs, is misleading. Nobody is opposed to terminating pregnancies. In fact, every pregnant mother I have ever met is fully in favor of the pregnancy terminating at some point. I have yet to meet a woman who wishes that her son or daughter would stay inside her as they grew, because being pregnant was just that wonderful.
A more accurate definition of abortion would be “the deliberate termination of a human fetus, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.” None of that terminology is pro-life terminology. And foisting all the baggage of the word “abortion” on the death of a child whose brain was on the outside of their body is problematic as well, but I don’t have time to fully address that aspect. But in summary, what is described here is not what would be traditionally understood as an abortion. Had the doctors not performed this procedure, the child would not have survived, no matter what means they took to save it. According to the mother, there was no medical miracle that would have saved him. Using a bad definition of abortion to classify a case that few people would classify as an abortion as a means of arguing for abortion is classic equivocation. (Not to mention a side of “straw-man fallacy,” as if these are the kinds of cases that pro-lifers are trying to stop.) You can’t cite a case that most pro-lifers would support and use it as justification for all the cases that every pro-lifer would reject.
3) Pro-life policies work!
Ironically, while this post was intended to scare people into what might happen were we to get a pro-life politician in office, it actually made the opposite point. What did I glean from this post? 1) Abortion was illegal in her state. 2) Her life was in danger 3) Doctors were able to ethically perform an emergency C-section when the life of the baby threatened her life, even though such a procedure knowingly resulted in the death of the child.
One of the most prolific arguments against pro-life legislation is the “What about in cases where the life of the mother is in danger?” By her own admission, this post shows that pro-life policies will not force a woman to carry to term when her life is in danger. Granted, I think the committee decision took WAY longer than was necessary, and I think there might be better ways to handle it, but I won’t go into that here. The point is, this was not going to be a happy experience either way. She herself described the incredible care and gentleness that her babies experienced on their unfortunate journey into and out of this world. It is exactly the kind of care and gentleness I would expect to result from policies that value life. Bravo Utah.
4) Emotion is quickly replacing reason as a means of ideological discourse, and our kids need to be prepared to resist this trend
This is a big deal for us Mama Bears. Romans 1:21 describes exactly where our country is headed: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Once we lose our ability to reason, we are left with the inability to recognize foolishness from wisdom.
While emotion and reason aren’t always at odds, there is enough anecdotal and scientific precedent to claim that they compete for dominance in our brains. According to this study, stress and emotions have the power to override the pre-frontal cortex, where rational decision-making occurs. Appeal to emotion isn’t just a logical fallacy. It can be a logic-blocker. If we (or our children) do not know how to recognize when emotion is replacing reason, it is much easier to succumb to bad reasoning. Knowing your fallacies is the best way to avoid being manipulated by one, or making one yourself.