Is Murder a Form of Protection?

The atmosphere of the Ohio Statehouse hearing room was tense, to say the least. I was anxious to hear what the opponents of Senate Bill 145, the Dismemberment Abortion Ban, could possibly have to say in justification of child-dismemberment. Of course, I didn’t expect to hear any mention of preborn babies—though their protection is the obvious focus of this bill—and all the testimonies confirmed my expectation. All but one, that is.

I was a bit perturbed when a woman who was clearly pregnant walked confidently to the witness stand. She introduced herself, mentioning that she was seven months pregnant, and then stated that this pregnancy would not have been possible if she had not had an abortion a few years ago. At the time of her abortion, she was in an abusive marriage, which she allegedly could not have escaped if she had had a child.

After she left her first husband and remarried, the new couple met with numerous specialists to determine their chances of having a child with a genetic abnormality. The probability of a disorder was found to be low, and soon the couple conceived. She expressed the distress she felt during the first weeks of her pregnancy when Ohio’s 20-week abortion ban was passed, making it clear that if her baby was found to be less than perfect, she would abort him. But what if his disorder wasn’t discovered until after 20 weeks gestation? What if there were delays in getting an abortion until after 20 weeks? This possibility, she said, worried her constantly as she awaited the tests’ results.

Her next sentence was even more shocking: “I was desperate to do everything I could to keep my child safe, even if that meant terminating the pregnancy.”

I couldn’t believe my ears.

She went on to lament, “I spent half my pregnancy worrying that Ohio abortion laws would prevent me from protecting my baby.”

This mother had no qualms about admitting that she was carrying a child, yet if he were physically imperfect, she would gladly pay hundreds of dollars to have him dismembered in her womb. What kind of society do we live in where child-murder is hailed as a heroic act of protection? Where raising a child with a disability is considered so horrifying that we would instead rip the limbs off that preborn baby in the name of love?

This is not the kind of world I want to live in.

– Lisbeth Nelson, Intern, Created Equal