Abortion stories

fhwang.net: Reading Andrew Sullivan’s 200 posts a day, so you don’t have to.

In the wake of George Tiller’s assassination, Sullivan has been collecting a number of personal stories about abortion. I found this one, from the husband of a Tiller patient, the most moving:

... I remember being puzzled about a T-shirt he was wearing, which said “Happy Birthday Jennifer from team Tiller!” or something similar. Turns out it comemmorated the birthday of a fifteen year old girl who was raped, became pregnant, and came to Tiller for an abortion. As luck would have it, she was in the clinic the same week as her birthday. So the clinic threw her a party.

The walls of the clinic reception and waiting room are literally covered with letters from patients thanking him. Some were heartbreaking – obviously young and/or poorly educated people thanking Dr. Tiller for being there when they had no other options, explaining their family, church etc. had abandoned them.

And there’s this, from a Catholic mother:

At 17 weeks gestation our baby had been diagnosed with major heart defects requiring a minimum of three risky open-heart surgeries beginning at birth, and would later require a heart transplant. At 19 weeks we were finally given our amnio results which revealed our baby also had Trisomy 21.

A surgeon at the major teaching hospital where we’d had our fetal echocardiogram informed us that even if our baby somehow survived his palliative surgeries, this latest diagnosis meant he would not ever be eligible for a heart transplant. As we sat talking quietly in our living room, our priest shared with us that he’d spent time at the same hospital where we’d had our fetal echocardiogram and where our son would have had surgery.

He was there to support the family of a three-month-old who was having heart surgery. In the three weeks or so that he tended to this family, he also met 10 other families in the waiting room, each of whom also had young babies undergoing heart surgery. Sadly, within the short space of time our priest was there, every single one of those babies died.

Our priest came away from that experience feeling that this world-renowned children’s hospital was basically experimenting on babies. He saw their futile suffering and likened it to being crucified. The family he had gone there to support later told him that if they had only known what their baby would be forced to go through before dying, they would never have chosen surgery. Our priest told us that he believed we were not choosing our son’s death, only choosing the timing of his death in order to spare him a great deal of suffering. Something he said that brought us great comfort was “God knows what is in your hearts.” God knows our choice was based on mercy and compassion. Who would better understand our hearts than God, who made the choice for His own Son to die?

Many more here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.


The pessimist in me has qualms with the way in which gay marriage is becoming legalized piecemeal in this country. I worry that having a California court legalize gay marriage instead of having it voted on by the citizens of the state is going to cause a lot of trouble in the long-term. I wonder how this will affect the Presidential election, and if it’s no surprise that Obama won’t (or can’t) come out pro-gay-marriage, then it’s nothing to be happy about either. And I find William Saletan’s arguments that gay marriage will pave the way for polygamy and adult incest fairly convincing, too.

But that’s the nitpicking, and now is probably not the time for that. Better to gaze happily on a couple like Shelly Bailes and Ellen Pontac—together for 34 years, and only just married this Monday.

I love pictures like this. When you turn away from the cartoonish depictions of queer life on TV and in movies, of bulletproof drag queens and untouchable lipstick lesbians, you see that gays and lesbians are as boring and pedestrian as everyone else. And that’s why they deserve the right of marriage: not because they’re perfect, but because they’re not. Because their lives will bear as much disappointment and malaise as those of anyone else, and having a devoted mate, straight or otherwise, can help sweeten even the worst of moments.

Best wishes, Shelly and Ellen. Today California, tomorrow the country?