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Sierra & Savanna

0 comments | 11:32 pm | top |
The following is a response to an article written by investigative journalist Barry Yeoman in which Gina Gonzales describes her experience of having her twin baby-daughters Sierra and Savanna killed by abortion. Please read this article (October, 2001) before reading my response so that you have it all in context.

Gina and her husband found themselves in an extremely difficult and painful situation - one that very few couples ever go through. I have the utmost sympathy for this family as they went through this tragic situation. I cannot imagine the grief a couple would experience upon hearing that their unborn child is very ill and has a poor chance of survival. To further complicate the case, the doctors stated that Gina's health was also in severe danger. There are only a few aspects of the article which I question, however these are enough to twist the it into an incorrect and biased account.

"...Sierra's chance of survival outside the womb hovered at around 5 percent—and she was the healthier of the two girls."

It is important to take this ratio for what it is; an educated guess by the doctors. There have been many cases where doctors have declared that a child has no chance of survival but been proven wrong once the child is born and recovers - or is able to live despite her deformities or illness. Baby Faith Hope was born with anencephaly (most of the brain missing) - an extreme deformity but passed away on 23 May, having lived for 93 days. Her mother said that her little daughter was conscious and as responsive as a normal baby. The doctors couldn't believe it. Faith's "quality of life" was very poor - but which of us has the right to determine that this quality of life justifies us ending her life?

"...My doctor also confirmed that Savanna's illness could trigger a rare syndrome in me: I was mirroring some of her symptoms and retaining fluids. My body was extremely swollen and I could hardly walk. If I continued the pregnancy, I could put my own health at risk too."

The key-word here is "could". I am sorry for Gina, and the awful situation she was going through, and the pain that she was suffering from. Her health was not looking good, and she was struggling to walk. But were these grounds enough to decide that both of her unborn babies should die?

"The following day, we called a surgeon across the country who had been recommended by a local specialist because he had developed an experimental procedure to abort one fetus while keeping the other alive. After listening to the litany of complications our girls had, he was frank with us. "I don't want to do this," he said. "It's not going to give you the outcome you're hoping for." Even if one of our daughters beat the 5 percent odds for survival, she could have serious physical and mental problems throughout her life. We hung up the phone and just looked at each other. We knew what we had to do. Letting the girls die on their own didn't seem like an option, because we believed they were suffering while endangering my own health..."

The 5% figure was arbitrary, as was the decision that "serious physical and mental problems throughout her life" were valid grounds for an abortion. If they had a five-year-old daughter lying on the hospital bed with a 5% chance of survival, and the news that even if she did survive, she may have an extremely poor quality of life, would Gina & John have made a different decision? Gina's health should have been treated as a separate consideration and not bundled together with these claims in order to strengthen the case for an abortion.

"I thought about what my pastor had said, and to me, giving her the most life meant releasing her to heaven rather than having her suffer on earth.

I do not question Gina's belief that her twin-daughters would go to Heaven following their death. However it is imperative that this comforting hope is never used to justify, or strengthen the case for an abortion going ahead.

"Last summer, I learned that outlawing intact D&Es [Intact Dilation & Extraction] is a top priority of anti-choice activists, who in an effort to inflame the issue, call the procedure "partial-birth abortion" because the fetus is removed late in the pregnancy. The most humane and safest option John and I had available to us is being threatened by lawmakers who do not understand our heartache. I used to vote straight-ticket Republican, but I couldn't bring myself to vote for George W. Bush, who used his acceptance speech at the GOP convention to promise to sign a law against "partial-birth abortion."

Gina now proceeds to attack pro-lifers as a whole by labelling them as "anti-choice", and then claiming that they are attempting to inflame the abortion issue. Partial-birth abortion is about as far from humane as you can get. For information on the procedure of a partial birth abortion, click here.

In very rare circumstances, an abortion is a necessary evil in order to reduce the overall amount of suffering. I cannot say whether Gina & John made the right decision, as I was not there, and the case was so complex. However looking at some of the comments in the article it appears that at least one of the baby girls may have survived had her parents and doctors had a greater understanding of the value and importance of life.

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