What happens when you are almost 8 months pregnant and somehow find out that your baby has something dreadfully wrong? Something that is not going to be compatible with life? That he is going to be born, suffer and then almost certainly die?
No mother can bear that cross easily.
I found out by an ultrasound done for other reasons when I was 30 weeks pregnant that my baby had multiple problems that could not have been picked up at the regular 18 week ultrasound. This wee one who was dancing in my belly was going to be born, suffer and die.
There was a choice offered to my husband and myself. We could leave the country and go to Kansas where I could have a late Fetal Indications Termination of Pregnancy. Or we could do nothing and give birth to a baby who would live for a while, suffer and die. I was stunned, broken. My upbringing was strongly catholic, although I had essentially stopped being a regular church goer. This was an option presented to us by the genetics team at the hospital and this was the option that we picked. They made the arrangements and we embarked on a dreadful journey.
The patients were all seen on a Tuesday morning at the clinic run by Dr Tiller in Witchita. When we arrived we were jeered at and pelted with rotten fruit and vegetables by people carrying placards ” Tiller is a Baby Killer ” Shaking I ran through the doors escorted by armed security guards and then passed through the metal detectors.
Then it was like a peaceful home. The warmth of the staff was akin to an envelope of non judgemental kindness and love. We as a group understood that we would be there for 5 days. In that time period we would be led gently through the steps of having a late Fetal Indications Termination of Pregnancy . Yes, an abortion… and that is what happened. The day before we left we saw our son. Peaceful, dead, but still our beautiful son wrapped carefully in a blankie. The nurses made sure that we didn’t see anything that would traumatize us, but left us with that one last memory. We were told that we could contact them at any time and request the blankie, hand and foot prints if we wanted them. Arrangements were then made to send him home to Canada for autopsy etcetera.
Dr Tiller was assassinated on May 1st 2009. He had survived a previous assassination attempt in 1993. Second to the loss of my baby this day was one of the saddest days of my life. After Dr Tiller died the clinic closed. There are very few places left that a woman in this dreadful situation can turn to.