Story No. 349: Patient from Virginia

Already a mother of two young children, I was expecting my third child. I was over 35 and qualified for all the prenatal testing. Until my 20-week anatomy scan, it had all come back perfectly. My entire family was happily expecting the addition of our baby boy. At that 20-week scan, we found out that our son’s brain had several severe deformations. He was missing some critical brain structures altogether, and other vital brain areas were misformed or shrunken. He was also showing signs of other complications, including the gradual slowing of his heart rate and enlargement of his skull.

It was the most painful and devastating day of my life. We spoke to numerous doctors, neurologists, and specialists. We had the results confirmed by fetal MRI. We spoke to our families and sought the guidance of counselors and professionals. Ultimately, we decided that what was best for our family, our two living children, and our unborn son was to end the pregnancy. It is impossible to overstate how much we agonized over this decision and all the factors that influenced it.

We ultimately felt that the most responsible and loving decision we could make as parents was to have an abortion. I could not continue to carry a pregnancy that had a high probability of ending in a stillbirth, or at best would result in a severely impaired baby being born only to suffer tremendously. We were surrounded by support in this decision by all of the doctors and other professionals who we consulted. However, finding a provider and arranging for the procedure was very difficult. There was literally not a single doctor in our state we could go to.

I, as a grieving mother in the middle of what I can only describe as an absolute emotional and physical crisis, found myself calling doctors and hospitals all over the country in desperation to access the medical care I needed. We ultimately were able to find a very caring and skilled provider in a major city within driving distance, thanks to a family friend who worked with that doctor. The doctor and other professionals involved in the actual procedure were incredibly sensitive, supportive, and caring. We still mourn the loss of our third child, and we are very grateful that we were able to make what we continue to strongly feel was the best decision we could make for him as his parents.