I believe there are fates worse than death. My maternal grandmother was technically alive for four years after the aneurysm and series of strokes that killed her, and I do not think she would have chosen that purgatorial coda. Just because we can prolong life with medical interventions doesn’t mean we should. I believe torturing babies in the service of what my friend Grace Ombry calls “cosmic self-improvement projects” is wrong. I believe torturing babies for any reason is wrong. Kate Carson, another friend whose words are so embedded in the way I think about baby loss and grief that I don’t even know when I’m quoting her anymore, says she was presented with the option of giving her baby only one of two precious gifts: peace and life. Like her, and like many parents faced with this impossible binary, I chose peace.
By the time my baby’s brain abnormalities could be diagnosed, I was past the legal limit for abortion in Michigan, so my doctors referred me to a clinic in Colorado. It was one of just four clinics in the country that my doctors knew of that would perform a procedure that late. My doctors would have done it themselves if I’d decided to end my pregnancy at 23 weeks and six days, when the best prediction they could give me was that my baby had a 70 percent chance of mild to moderate cognitive impairment and developmental delays and only a 30 percent chance of more severe problems or perinatal death. In the face of those odds, I chose life.