Diane Simoni was told at 20 weeks that her baby had severe health problems. She told her story of choosing to parent a baby with Trisomy 13 in “The American Feminist,” the magazine of Feminists for Life. Simoni explained, “At about 20 weeks gestation, an ultrasound picked up abnormalities in the infant I was carrying. Sadly, major brain and heart defects were noted.”
From the beginning, she was determined not to abort:
The obstetrician and the head of the Genetics Department were direct with me about having amniocentesis, suggesting to me that if I knew what the chromosomal abnormality was, I would lean more toward abortion. They didn’t know how firmly I stood.
She did have an amniocentesis, which found that her baby had Trisomy 13, a chromosomal condition. Most babies with Trisomy 13 do not survive for very long, although survival rates are increasing if these children are given aggressive medical treatment.
Despite the poor prognosis, Simoni carried her baby to term, and named her Gabrielle. She wrote, “Gabrielle lived for 12 days and died in my arms at home. Hospice services were a wonderful resource, as my husband and I learned to change her feeding tube and prepare for her death.”
Simoni does not regret having her baby, and has a deep sense of gratitude for the time she got to spend with Gabrielle. She calls herself “privileged” to be Gabrielle’s mother. “Over the years, my gratitude for being chosen to be Gabrielle’s mother has changed and grown,” she said. “I have gained ever deepening understanding of the privileged position I am in for having her as a daughter.”
Simoni encourages other parents whose babies have fetal anomalies to make the same choice she did. She opposes abortion and believes those who choose it miss out on the joy of knowing their children:
When well-meaning doctors and medical personnel try to influence women to abort their babies with major medical issues, the parents may give in to the pressure and miss out on the experience of getting to know that child. Parents should know that even babies with chromosomal abnormalities can find a home through adoption if they don’t feel capable of parenting a child with special needs. Whether they choose adoption or take care of the child themselves, there are supports to help families in their situation. Parents should know about all of those resources before being put in the difficult position of considering abortion. With time taken to learn about resources, perhaps someday in the future they will look back and feel privileged to be that child’s parents.
Multiple studies show that women who carry to term after an adverse fetal diagnosis heal faster and suffer less emotional pain than those who have abortions. Simoni is far from the only one to derive comfort from spending time with her baby, even though her child didn’t live long. The joy of getting to know the baby, hold him or her, and be a parent, even for a brief time, brings comfort to many women. They are free of the guilt women who have abortions suffer, and feel more closure.
Source: “Diane Simoni” The American Feminist 2012, p. 24
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