Arizona Woman With Cancer Refused Abortion, Baby Near Birth Now

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 25, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Arizona Woman With Cancer Refused Abortion, Baby Near Birth Now Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 25
, 2006

Phoenix, AZ ( — An Arizona woman who refused to have an abortion despite her battle with cancer is near death now and doctors are hoping to keep her alive a little longer to give her baby the best chance at surviving and a health birth.

When Veronica Celis married her husband Aaron in 1988, the couple wanted a big family. They eventually had three boys and then veronica found out she had breast cancer.

After extensive surgeries and chemotherapy, doctors suggested having a hysterectomy to make sure a future pregnancy didn’t trigger a return of the cancer. As Veronica prepared for the surgery, doctors found she was 16 weeks pregnant.

According to the Tucson Citizen newspaper, Veronica was soon in the hospital in severe pain as the cancer returned. Doctors advised her to have an abortion and she agreed.

"I didn’t want to push her," Aaron told the newspaper. "I told her, ‘Honey, we have more things to lose than just the baby. She agreed that it (the abortion) was best.’"

But Veronica eventually had a dream, Aaron explained, where she saw her baby, a girl the couple has named Veronica, and she decided she couldn’t go through with it.

"My wife’s last wish to me was ‘Take care of the baby,’ " Aaron told the Associated Press. "This was such a hard decision to make, so hard, but I made a promise to my wife – and I’m going to keep it."

After going home, two weeks later, Aaron rushed Veronica to the emergency room as she again experienced excruciating pain.

Her brain shut down in August though her heart kept beating. Since then, doctors are working to keep her alive and give her baby the best chance possible.

Dr. Michael Foley, the director of obstetrics and intensive care at Banner Good Samaritan in Phoenix told the newspaper the key hurdle was making sure the baby lived past viability. Now the goal is helping baby Veronica survive until the first week of October — taking the pregnancy into its 32nd week.

Such cases are rare, but have been successful.

In July, a woman in Argentina who was stricken with cancer but refused to have an abortion gave birth to her son, Pedro, who was born early at 27 weeks into the pregnancy.

Laura Figeroa, at the time, was in the terminal stage of her illness, a brain metastasis that is considered irreversible. Figeroa could have had an abortion so she could obtain chemotherapy to address her cancer, but she refused to take the life of her unborn child to save her own.

Several months beforehand she told the Catholic newspaper Cristo Hoy she decided against an abortion to show her love “to this child that is coming in the same way that I have shown it to the other children I have."

"I want my child to know that I love him and that I will always love him, that I will give my life for him if necessary," she said.

“Of course I don’t intend to neglect my health, as I have the responsibility to protect my own life and that of my baby, but nevertheless, I avoid everything that, while helpful to my own health, might be detrimental to that of my child,” she explained.