Opinion: Abortions Due To Disabilities And Illness Are Heartbreaking And Should Not Be Normalized

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Americans are still split on the topic of abortion, a new poll revealed, showing that for many people, choosing a side on the contentious issue is not easy.  The more telling part of the polling, however, revealed the feelings of people who believe abortion should be legal in cases where the child could be born with a life-threatening illness.    

According to an AP-NORC poll, 61% of Americans felt that abortion should be legal in most or all cases during the first trimester of pregnancy, but that number went down to 34% in the second trimester and 19% in the third trimester. 

Late-term abortions, however, often occur when expecting parents are told that their child might be born with birth defects or difficult health circumstances. The poll narrowly addressed this topic, as well.  

If the “child would be born with a life-threatening illness,” 74% of adults said that a woman should be able to get a legal abortion. When asked the same question, 86% of Democrats agreed, 72% of Independents agreed, and 63% of Republicans agreed.  

The poll also divided respondents along religious beliefs and 93% of non-religious people said they agreed that a woman should be able to get an abortion if the child would be born with a life-threatening illness, while 80% of people who practice religions other than “[b]orn-again or evangelical” Christianity agreed. At a lower, but still somewhat surprisingly high percentage, 52% of born-again or evangelical Christians agreed. 

When it comes to abortion, it is not a simple topic, and the question in the poll notably centered on access to a legal procedure — rather than the morality of it. The problem with the particular question surrounding life-threatening illness, however, is that it does not define what a “life-threatening illness” is, or what the determination would be to figure out what would constitute an illness where certain death would be a better alternative for a child. 

Fostering a sense of normalcy around late-term abortions due to disability enhances the stigma that disabled persons and their families live with on a daily basis, not to mention ignores the situations when doctors are wrong about a diagnosis and a mother who was encouraged to abort her baby gives birth to a perfectly healthy child. It also reinforces the notion that some lives are worth living — while others are not.

In a 2019 opinion piece in The New York Times, a woman wrote about the late-term abortion that she underwent in order to protect “her child from a life of pain and suffering.”

The writer, Lyndsay Werking-Yip, detailed the heartbreaking decision she and her husband made to end her child’s life at 23 weeks and six days of pregnancy following a diagnosis of a “broken brain” that would potentially lead to many complications. 

The letters to the editor printed about the publication are almost more telling than the piece itself. 

One woman thanked Werking-Yip for her piece, saying that most people don’t discuss the pain that is associated with an abortion. The woman added that it was the right choice for her to abort her child, as well, but added that she kept the remains of her daughter, whom she named Marcella, in an urn inside her closet. Her daughter had been diagnosed with Triple X syndrome, a genetic disorder. 

In her letter to the editor, the woman wrote, “In the comments online, many people questioned why you would say you killed your baby. Though they are well intentioned, they have no clue. I definitely killed my baby. It was the saddest, most horrific act I’ve ever done. I hope I am never faced with such a choice again. But it was my choice. And it was the right choice for our family at the time.”

This response details the heartbreaking situation of abortion and the parents who are often left behind in the pro-choice culture that pretends abortion is not a sad thing. It is always a complicated choice, but it is made more heartbreaking and more complicated when the option for abortion is presented as best for the child.

In her original opinion piece, Werking-Yip explained that she considered herself pro-life, but she identified with both terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice.”

She wrote:

If you identify as “pro-life,” what does that phrase mean to you? I know that in advocacy circles, it means, essentially, “anti-abortion.” But what does life mean to you — the life that you are “for”? Does it mean breathing on your own? Does it mean having a heartbeat? What are the markers of a life of quality, of purpose, of meaning? If your brain was not functioning following a traumatic car accident, would you want your body artificially sustained indefinitely? What is the threshold of experience for you to want to continue living? I’m asking honestly.

Werking-Yip continued, “If it’s hard to imagine answering these questions for yourself, can you imagine being asked to answer them for someone else?”

The answer to her question is clear: no, of course not. It’s a terrifying prospect to think of being required to make such a decision. It’s horrific to think of being given the task of deciding if a child should live a life of potential suffering or be allegedly spared from pain through a premature death.

Perhaps it is such a difficult decision, an unnatural and heartbreaking one, because it is not ours to make at all.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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