Human Interest

How a ‘scheduling error’ saved a baby with Down syndrome from abortion

down syndrome, abortions

At 22 weeks of pregnancy, Andi Matthews and her husband learned their son had Down syndrome. They were devastated. The genetic counselor offered them an abortion, either by D&E or induced labor. Andi writes, “Mired in grief, the options were tempting – we could make this all go away by agreeing to terminate. We could try to get pregnant again in six months and have another chance at having a baby. Here was the way out.”

Andi scheduled a D&E abortion.

Below, former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levatino explains a D&E. The opening of the womb is dilated overnight or over a few days. On the day of the procedure, the abortionist uses forceps to dismember the baby, tearing off arms and legs.


READ: Powerful documentary shows doctors’ push to abort babies with Down syndrome

Andi recalled her conversation with the genetic counselor:

She explained that I would come in on Tuesday to have laminaria sticks inserted into my cervix to start the dilation process. I would come back on Wednesday for another insertion of the sticks. By Thursday morning my cervix would be dilated enough for the procedure to take place. The baby and I would be put out and the doctor would use a suctioning machine to remove my pregnancy. I would wake up and the baby would be gone.

In reality, the anesthesia given to the mother does not sedate the baby. Both Abby Johnson and nurse Brenda Pratt Shafer watched abortions on ultrasound and saw the child reacting to the abortion instruments and even trying to get away.

The genetic counselor didn’t give too many details. She didn’t mention dismemberment — only “removal.” Andi asked:

“Could we have a chance to hold the baby?” I asked. “Or could we have his remains cremated?”

“I’m sorry,” she said. “There will be no remains intact.”

The counselor knows that seeing the baby’s torn apart body would horrify Andi. Andi rationalized her decision:

[W]e decided that termination was the best option. I wrote letters to our baby boy explaining why his dad and I had made the choice to send him to heaven: we didn’t want him to be subjected to constant surgeries and medical procedures. We wanted a chance to have other children. We didn’t want to saddle these younger siblings with the responsibility to care for their disabled brother if something should ever happen to us. We knew he’d be happier in heaven.

Then the abortion facility called and told her that due to a scheduling problem, she would have to wait an extra two days to have the abortion. The thought of the delay infuriated and upset her, and she yelled and demanded, but the abortion had to be postponed. Then the day the abortion was supposed to happen, reality hit Andi full force and she realized she couldn’t kill her baby:

[A]s I was putting the clean clothes away, I started crying again. But then the crying turned into sobbing, which then turned into wailing. Before I knew it, I was in the throes of the rawest emotions I’ve ever felt in my life. I screamed and cried, unable to catch my breath, “I can’t kill my baby! I can’t kill my baby!” I threw things. I fell on the floor. I lashed out at anything that was nearby… I began kicking at the walls of my bedroom and finally kicked a huge hole in my beautiful bedroom wall.

That was my breaking point. I ran for the phone and called my husband’s cell number. “I can’t kill our baby. I’m so sorry, but I can’t kill our baby. I can’t kill him!” I repeated, in between cries of anguish.”

READ: Woman with Down syndrome addresses UN: Stop targeting us for extinction

Andi is now grateful that she had her child. She wrote:

Riley is now one-year-old… Now the scariest thing I can imagine is what my life would be like without him…

I look at my gorgeous son today and feel so sad that I once considered not letting him show me who he was.… Little did I know how much life, laughter, and love this child would bring to me and to the world.

Andi also realized that her desire for an abortion was based on selfish motives, not what was best for Riley:

Looking back, I also realize that my decisions weren’t really being made with Riley in mind. I was primarily thinking about myself. I couldn’t imagine how it would feel to see my own son teased. To see him in the hospital. To see him possibly not be able to achieve his dreams. I realize I was trying to protect myself from the pain I envisioned.

If it hadn’t been for the delay, Andi’s baby would’ve died. This is why pro-lifers support waiting periods before abortions.

Source: Kathryn Lynard Soper Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives (Bethesda, Maryland: Woodbine House, 2007) 280-283, 286-287

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