Recently, abortion was legalized in New York up until birth. Pro-abortion activists tried to pass a similar law in Virginia, while Rhode Island and New Mexico are the next targets. One argument activists give for legalizing abortion in the third trimester is that mothers pregnant with dying babies should be able to abort, which they claim is the best choice in these cases. But multiple studies show that women who carry these babies to term do better emotionally.
In one study, “I Would Do It All Over Again”: Cherishing Time and the Absence of Regret in Continuing a Pregnancy after a Life-Limiting Diagnosis” in The Journal of Clinical Ethics, researchers found that among women who chose to carry their child with a poor prenatal diagnosis to term:
Absence of regret was articulated in 97.5 percent of participants. Parents valued the baby as a part of their family and had opportunities to love, hold, meet, and cherish their child. Participants treasured the time together before and after the birth. Although emotionally difficult, parents articulated an empowering, transformative experience that lingers over time.
Factors that led to lack of regret included the experience of loving the baby, the appreciation of time spent with the baby, and the fact that parents were able to meet their child. Holding the baby was also found to relieve grief. These things are generally not available when a woman terminates, although some abortion facilities show the dead baby’s body to the woman. This is apparently not the same as holding a living baby, even if the child’s life is very short.
Another study, from the Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health, found similar results. The authors said:
After the birth, and at the time of the baby’s death, parents expressed thankfulness that they were able to spend as much time with their baby as possible.
In the study, “My Baby Is a Person’’: Parents’ Experiences with Life-Threatening Fetal Diagnosis in The Journal of Palliative Medicine, researchers wrote:
Our overall impression was that the parents, in spite of their grief, demonstrated love for their baby and determination to find meaning in and honor their baby’s life.
[A] unanimous and strong need to acknowledge the personhood of their baby, and his/her role within the family. They wanted people to legitimize the baby’s life and not to pretend the infant does not exist. …
All the parents had named their babies, and proudly shared the names …. All parents wanted to continue hearing their baby’s heartbeat and to see the baby on ultrasound. They stated that these were opportunities to ‘‘get to know’’ their baby.
The authors also said:
We were impressed by the parents’ resiliency and ability to find something positive to offer, even in the presence of their grief. This finding is consistent with the results of [other studies that] showed that parents often undergo a positive personal change during the experience of a pregnancy with a LFD [lethal fetal defect].
A third study, “Pregnancy continuation and organizational religious activity following prenatal diagnosis of a lethal fetal defect are associated with improved psychological outcome” in Prenatal Diagnosis found that:
Pregnancy continuation was … associated with less psychiatric distress in women. As a group, women who continued reported significantly less despair, avoidance and depression than women who terminated. In contrast to the thought that lethal anomalies may avert feelings of guilt following termination, items related to guilt were significantly associated with termination in women. The active choice involved in termination does appear to increase the likelihood that guilt will be experienced, even in the case of lethal fetal anomalies.
One of the reasons for this, the study found, was “memory making,” i.e. having “more opportunities to find meaning and for memory making, such as opportunities to hold and care for the baby, take photographs, [and] create other keepsakes….”
Another study called “The travesty of choosing after positive prenatal diagnosis” found similar results.
Couples experienced selective termination as traumatic, regardless of the prenatal test revealing the fetal impairment or stage in pregnancy in which the termination occurred…
The strategies women used to reconcile conflicts engendered by selective termination—denying the personhood of the baby, limiting the information they sought about the baby, transferring agency for choice to others, adopting a stance of moral relativity, avoiding disclosing or selectively disclosing the event to others—worked briefly but the women ultimately felt as if they were betraying themselves and their babies….
Couples, health care providers, family, and friends underestimated the intensity and duration of feelings of loss following selective termination.
Research overwhelmingly shows that abortion leads to worse outcomes for the woman and her family than carrying even a dying baby to term.
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