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March 12, 2017

The Trauma of Late Term Abortion: A Response To An Unimaginable Tragedy

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I was recently asked to provide my thoughts to an article that was shared by a friend on the topic of late-term abortion. That article, entitled “I chose to have a late-term abortion because I love both my daughters” (and can be found here) is written by Darla Jackson, a woman who through a fertilization procedure became pregnant with twin girls, one of which developed conditions severe enough to potentially threaten the viability of her sister and resulted in aborting one girl to save the other. Here are my thoughts as I read through the article.

Politics and Worldview

The author begins her article with a few paragraphs about the political climate, specifically how it has brought the topic of late-term abortion into the cultural conversation.  She first states a quote from President Trump during the final campaign debate, then a reference to a House Bill that she says “would make abortions illegal once you can detect the fetus’ heartbeat”.  There’s nothing that particularly stands out to me until after this point.  It is here that the first glimpses of her worldview are seen.  In criticizing the aforementioned House bill, she says the following:

“Never mind that a heartbeat can be found at six weeks, when many women don’t even know that they’re yet pregnant, or that a heartbeat is a far cry from viability, making such legislation thereby unconstitutional.”

Let’s unpack that a bit.  In one sentence, she has dismissed the standard of a heartbeat because the mother commonly is unaware of her pregnancy.  She also sets her standard at viability and appeals to the legality of abortion.  Namely, because (she claims) that such laws are unconstitutional they are therefore not a proper standard.  This is a common appeal, and it’s important to note here.  The closest thing to a foundation for reasoning that is put forth is the current legal standard and the decision-making power of the mother.

Appeal to Emotion

It is here that the author begins to shift her tone.  Now that her standard is established, the attack begins.  Those such as our president and Congress are not “pro-life” they are “anti-abortion”.  Later, she identifies those of us who are pro-life as “anti-choicers”.  I find the language here problematic, because it tends to marginalize opposing views and isolate the people with those views from the conversation.  Positions like this are better expressed in terms of what you believe and the positive reasons why you believe it.  This author goes on a tangent of what she disagrees with and why, and does a poor job of it.

For example, while dismissing opposing views, she brings up rape and incest – neither of which are relevant here.  She levies a blanket accusation that Republicans don’t think about the people involved.  (In actuality, by being pro-life, there is genuine concern for all involved).  There is really just enough to show her dislike, but not enough to justify it.  This whole section, though, does serve as a nice transition to what is really the best part of her article.

Personal Testimony

Let’s be honest.  There is often no argument against personal experience.  And of everything she wrote, her story is the most moving and most convincing.  To her credit, she rightly describes her twins in human terms.  She gave them both names, Olivia and Catherine.  She refers to them as sisters – twins – and describes their personalities.  It’s really quite beautiful.

She goes into great detail to describe the news that ultimately led to her to end the life of one of her daughters, Catherine.  It’s heart-breaking, raw, and real.

It then gets inconsistent.

She declares “Both of our girls were in danger”.  The danger to Olivia is early delivery.  It’s not clear how early, but simply that they didn’t know what it would mean for her.  As for Catherine, there seemed to be at least a small chance of survival.  Then she says not just that they were in danger, but they could both die.

Let me be clear here.  In cases where there is legitimate risk to the life of the mother or, in this case, the other baby in the womb, there are certainly difficult decisions to be made.  These extreme circumstances may result in an abortion precisely to preserve life.  A doctor’s responsibility is to care for and preserve life.  If there is a circumstance where the choice is losing one life or more, then the difficult decision to take the one life may be permissible.  From what the author says, there is no such clarity here.

That said, I think we should give her the benefit of the doubt in her situation.  I can’t imagine the difficulty of the situation she describes, and I refuse to discount her story because I find her explanation wanting.  Would I be able to provide a better explanation in her situation?

The Fact of Abortion

Before we get to the question of the quality of life, we need to take a moment to recognize what actually happened in the abortion.  Even in explaining what happened, it’s clear she’s still trying to come to terms with it.  They heard Catherine’s heartbeat and saw her on the ultrasound.  She says the doctor injected “medicine” that caused Catherine’s heart to stop.  Medicine treats an ailment.  It does not stop a heart.

The doctor injected Catherine with poison for the purpose of killing her.  And it worked.

Catherine is dead.

The Counterattack

The author closes with revealing the fullness of her purpose for writing.  Her words equate a lack of quality of life with a lack of life altogether – even as her actions show that no life at all, to her, is better.  This is what she chose, after all.  She wants to identify herself as an example of the typical late-term abortion.  “We are THE story…We are THE issue…”.  Those who disagree merely “claim to value” life rather than actually value it.  They would rather see two lives end rather than one life spared, she says.  Rather than see her story as she tells it, “one in a million”, she wants to use it as an example for every other story.

My Conclusion

Clearly she and her husband have had a traumatic experience.  I don’t want to diminish that.  In fact, it’s these types of stories that should move us to mourn with those who mourn.  Taking a life is not easy, nor should it be.  Rejoice that they feel the weight of what they have done, that it might lead them to repent and trust in Christ.

Reject any worldview that would readily put you in the position to dehumanize another for the purpose of killing them.  And make no mistake, the culture of death that views on-demand abortion as a human right does just that.  The results of such worldviews are clear in the pain that emanates from her writing of what she has done.  It’s that influence that has led her to try to justify her actions.  I hope and pray that she repents of that.  Her daughter did not feel love as she died.  She felt the pain of a needle and whatever followed as her heart beat for the final time.

Hear me clearly refute the idea that we would rather see both little girls die, and that such death would be needless.  Our hope is that no child should suffer death, especially through abortion.  And we should not think for a minute that any suffering, any pain, or any loss is needless.  I won’t sit here and try to say that she should have risked both lives, but I cannot also say that had she tried to carry both to term that their possible deaths would have been needless.

To my friend who first approached me, I hope this response suffices.

One Last Thing

And Darla Jackson, if you happen to read this please know that you are not merely a political issue.  You are not your abortion.  My heart aches for you and your family after what you’ve been through.  I pray you seek comfort and forgiveness in Christ, for that is the only place you will find it.

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