My Pro-Life Story
By Shannon May
Rightgrrl Contributor
August 23, 2000

This is my pro-life story. I'm writing it in response to Carolyn Gargaro and Mike Brown's article, "Does This Justify Partial-Birth Abortions?", or more specifically in response to the decision made by the Wilson family. The authors said they were awaiting comments from readers about their insensitivity. Speaking from my own experience, I want to say loud and clear that they were 100% correct in their assessment of the situation.

I'm 23 weeks pregnant with our first child. Three weeks ago, during a routine diagnostic sonogram, I was devastated by the news that our precious baby boy had fatal deformities of the heart, brain, and kidneys, along with some physical deformities. Together, these problems usually indicate trisomy 13, a genetic disorder that randomly strikes one baby in five thousand. Children with partial trisomy may live for several years, but we were told that with problems this serious, especially with his heart, our son will probably not live longer than a few hours after his birth, if he survives the rest of the term.

The pregnancy was a surprise to my husband and me, but it didn't take me long at all to fall head over heels in love with this kid. My husband was thrilled right from the first. Our excitement grew with every good report from the obstetrician. So when the radiologist told me about our son's condition, I was heartbroken. That's one of the reasons I am so angry at the Wilsons for making the decision they made.

It's agony to know that my baby boy will leave me so soon. It's so hard to have this growing love and attachment to him and at the same time, prepare myself to say goodbye. The Wilsons would have had to endure that for only four weeks. I must endure it for four months if our son lives that long. Since I found out about his condition, his life has become even more valuable to me than before. I dread going into labor, because I know it will be the beginning of the end. So, knowing how short a time he will be with us, how could I think for a second of shortening his precious life even further? The time he's in my womb may be all that we have with him. I'd gladly extend that time indefinitely if I could, so he could be safe and happy inside me forever. Our son's life is a gift, no matter how long or short a time he's with us.

I am also angered by Mrs. Wilson's defense of her actions with the idea that it would save her daughter additional suffering. After I got this news, I was agonized by the thought that perhaps my son's deformities were causing him pain. Though I wouldn't have considered abortion either way, I asked my obstetrician about this. She assured me that our son is safe and well inside me now and doesn't feel any pain, though he would if I were to have an abortion. She said that he doesn't know he's sick and that as long as my body is supporting and nourishing him he's perfectly content. There's also a possibility that with his condition, my son is having seizures. My husband had a seizure once and he assured me that they are not painful, and my obstetrician said the same thing. So what would have been the need to kill Abigail if she were having seizures? Not the worry of any pain, because she most likely wouldn't have felt any. Abigail would have been just as content in her mother's womb as my son is in mine. Besides, even if she were feeling pain, how do loving parents get from "this is our loved and wanted child" to "she may possibly be feeling some pain so it's okay to poke a hole in her head and suck her brains out"??? I wonder if the Wilsons really had all the facts about this procedure, or maybe they were a little too easily persuaded by their doctors.

My husband and I are thankful that our son is not suffering now, and we pray that if he survives till delivery, the Lord will take him quickly because we couldn't stand to see him suffer. But ultimately that's up to God, not us. We're evangelical Protestants and we believe God is the Giver and Taker of life, and for humans to interfere with that process is nothing but the height of arrogance. We also believe that no matter how short it turns out to be, our son's life has purpose and meaning. If we were to interfere with the natural process of his death, we would be denying him the inherent value of his life. I know the Catholic Church teaches these same concepts, so the Wilsons, as "practicing" Catholics, should have recognized them.

Because Abigail was receiving complete nourishment and comfort from her mother's womb, the most compassionate option (for Abigail) would have been for her mother to carry her to term. Since the Wilsons weren't willing to do that, they easily could have insisted on the C-section instead; they didn't have to listen to their doctor when he said "intact D&E" was the best option. As for future fertility problems, it doesn't make sense to me and actually seems a little puzzling that Viki was worried about not being able to have more kids later on when she was so quick to kill the one she carried in her womb. I get the impression that she only wants more kids as long as they're healthy and whole and have the promise of a normal life expectancy. If they don't meet these criteria, they're condemned.

It seems pretty clear that the Wilsons' decision was indeed made to spare them emotional agony, not to spare their daughter from any pain. I'm sure that if they had that motivation it was subconscious, but even so, what kind of logic is it that says that killing my child would in any way alleviate my own pain at his death? Moral considerations aside, if I aborted him I'd be rid of him but not rid of the pain I felt at losing him. It will be hard enough for us when our son dies a natural death. Why would I imagine for a moment that killing him would help me to hurt less, just because he's deformed and won't live very long?

I've been overwhelmed with love for my son for some time now. I've watched his heart beat on the sonogram machine and felt his movements in my body. To me, there's nothing more sacred or beautiful in the world. How could I think of taking the life of my own flesh and blood for any reason, no matter what his deformities? Carrying him as long as the Lord allows me to is the hardest thing I've ever done, but God has called me to love and nourish him for as long as he lives. As his mother, it's the least I can do for him, and it's a privilege to meet all his needs and ensure his comfort during his brief stay with us.

Joshua Christopher May died peacefully in utero on August 31. He was welcomed into the world by loving parents Marc and Shannon on September 3, and given back to God on September 9.

This article copyright © 2000 by Shannon May and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.