I was 31 years old and happily married to a supportive husband. We were trying to conceive, and after 9 long months, I was finally pregnant. We were both very excited and looking forward to a new addition to the family.
I went to my first trimester screen at 14 weeks, and was devastated to find out that my fetus had a 9mm nuchal fold, or a cystic hygroma, strongly suggestive of Turner’s syndrome. The ultrasound was so abnormal that the blood tests were not necessary. The heart rate was 180 beats per minute, when a normal rate was supposed to be 150, suggesting serious cardiac issues, and a high likelihood of miscarriage before term. Based on the medical data, there was only a 3% chance of having a normal, healthy baby, possibly even less.
My husband and I were crushed with this news. I was up for several nights, weighing my options, and finally decided to have the pregnancy terminated because 1. there was a high likelihood of miscarriage anyway 2. even if the baby survived to birth, her life was only going to be full of suffering and 3. if I had a D+C after intrauterine death, the risk of the procedure to my health only increased with time. I wasn’t going to just sit around and wait for my baby to die in me.
Another thought that kept me up at night was the fact that I had promised to be responsible for my profoundly mentally retarded brother once my parents were no longer able to care for him. He required 24 hour monitoring and care, anti-seizure medications 3 times a day, and was completely dependent on others for toileting, feeding, personal hygiene and mobility. There was no way I would be able to care for him, and a special needs child with multiple medical problems, emotionally, physically, and financially. I promised my parents that I would give my brother the best quality of life possible even though his overall outlook was bleak.
After I had the abortion, my total bill come to approximately $10,000. This included the hospital bills, OB/GYN and anesthesia charges, genetic testing to confirm Turner’s syndrome, pathologist fees, and lab tests. Because I was a federal employee, and because of the Hyde Amendment, my federal insurance plan was banned from paying any part of my abortion.
I understand that having a child is expensive, but the fact that old, white, men in Congress, who have no empathy or anyone but themselves, can tell me that my abortion was done for unethical reasons, is a profound insult. I decided to have this abortion precisely for ethical (and health) reasons.
Furthermore, I am lucky enough to be able to afford my medical bills “out-of-pocket” (although it cuts into the money we were saving for a down payment on a house), but I can only imagine how it puts people less well-off in a severely disadvantaged position. Getting an abortion is not an easy choice, nor is it a choice a woman will ever want to make, but it should not be a choice made by rich, white men, who think that their own narrow-minded view of the world should be the law.
In the end, even though it still hurts me to think about the choice I had to make, I firmly believe that it is the right choice, and I am so thankful that it was mine to make. My husband and I are going to try again, and we hope to welcome a healthy baby soon.