Story No. 264: Dr. Alhambra from Pennsylvania

Lydia sobbed and clutched her rosary. Between the tears, she told me that she had been a practicing Catholic all her life. She had saved herself for marriage. She and her husband were so happy to start a family after they were married last year. But, she explained, she was 41 years old and her husband was 47. She could not imagine leaving behind a special needs child when she would inevitably grow too old to care for him, and then pass away. She could not imagine continuing her Trisomy 21 pregnancy for this reason. She told me it was the hardest decision of her life. That’s why she found herself needing an abortion procedure at 23 weeks. She had attended local support groups for families affected by Down Syndrome. She had spoken to her priest, and to a therapist. She did not want to make this choice, and she explained she would pray for forgiveness, but she was sure it was what she must do. For Lydia, it was the most selfless thing to do.

Women must be able to access abortion procedures beyond 20 weeks gestation, because they deserve the opportunity to make these difficult decisions in their own time, with the information they need to be sure they are doing what is best for themselves and their families.