United States' strict abortion laws forced woman to give birth to a child without a skull, doctor says
Last month, the state of Alabama passed one of the nation's most restrictive bans on abortion in recent years, and it sparked a veritable domino effect. Now, both Missouri and Georgia have announced similar anti-abortion bills.
The draconian laws would prohibit abortion after a "fetal heartbeat" can be detected, oftentimes before most women have even realized they're pregnant.
The backlash was swift, with thousands of women taking to Twitter to speak about their personal experiences, using the hashtags #ShoutYourAbortion, and #YouKnowMe. In May, people also took to the streets to march as part of the #StopTheBans protest. Over 500 marches occurred at statehouses, town squares, and courthouses across the US, as well as in Canada, and Puerto Rico.
Now, an anonymous doctor from the US has written a harrowing essay detailing his experience of helping a woman give birth to an infant with no skull. The piece, titled The Myth of Choice, was published amid a wave of anti-abortion laws in the US. In Alabama, specifically, abortions are now only allowed if the mother's physical health is in serious jeopardy. Her mental health, however, and that of her unborn child are rarely considered.
"A woman meets a man, starts a relationship, wants a family. She comes to your hospital so pregnant that her belly is huge. She hasn't come before because she has no car. Her man works long days, paid cash for his labor. Turns out the baby has no brain, no skull. Only a stem. This condition has no survivors. None," the doctor began.
"You wait for the patient to break the silence. The baby's heartbeat trots through the monitors while you softly hold her gaze. Her eyes plead with you. End it. You talk to the obstetricians, because eventually it will end. But nobody will do it. Not in this state. Not in this hospital. And so, the mother goes home, pregnant and grieving."
"Gently, the baby dies. He is warm, whole, and not alone. There are no doughnuts at the nurses' station that night as this young mother is wheeled to a room in the back corner of labor and delivery, away from the other mothers and their pink, crying babies. She will walk out of the hospital with breasts swollen and weeping for her dead child. Her hips loose and large will force her pants to tug. She will struggle with her gait for weeks, punctuating loss in the waddle of each step, until, gradually, she retires her maternity pants and her steps become firm, upright, and forward," the essay continues.
"You've done this before, cared for women whose wishes were warped by politics. You've commanded millions of health care dollars on behalf of infants born with fatal diagnoses. You've seen these infants cut, lanced, and battered in the name of intensive care. Do everything. Because who does not want to save her child? Sometimes all we can control is our grief. The middle-of-the-night pangs for a world where motherhood means potty training and muddy cleats. Sometimes the idea of choice is just a lie. And sometimes all you can provide is compassion. Dignity in grief is the gift. You've enabled false hopes, not for cures but for time to bond, hope, and heal. It is the parents you are healing. The hopes false. All these children died in the end."