When did abortion become the default option for an unborn baby who has been diagnosed with a disability?
LifeNews and other news outlets have reported on countless stories of parents being pressured to consider abortion after their unborn child was diagnosed with a disability or fatal illness. This abortion-related discrimination continues after children are born, too. One British mother recently filed a police report after a man harassed her and her daughter on their walk to school, telling them that she should have been aborted because she uses a wheelchair.
Kelly Hartge’s story is another example of this increasingly prevalent attitude.
The Washington, D.C. NICU nurse recently told the Washingtonian why she chose life for her unborn daughter after she was diagnosed with a fatal condition called anencephaly.
“At our 20-week ultrasound, our baby, a girl, was diagnosed with anencephaly,” Hartge said. “I knew what that was because of my work. Not all of the baby’s skull had formed, which meant the brain would not develop fully.”
Babies with anencephaly sometimes die in the womb. Others survive for minutes, hours or sometimes a few days, but the condition typically is fatal.
In the midst of their shock and heartache, Hartge said her doctor only offered one thing: a list of phone numbers for late-term abortion providers. She and her husband quickly rejected the advice.
“I thought for a second about what that meant, but I knew in my heart I would never go down that route,” she said. “We had lots of hope that she would survive delivery and we would get to meet her alive for a short amount of time, or any amount of time. My husband and I are both Catholic, and our families supported continuing the pregnancy 100 percent.”
Recognizing that their daughter’s life was valuable, no matter how short, the family made the most of their time together. Hartge said they named her Hope and began reading stories to her at bedtime, even though she was in the womb.
“We wanted to make sure she knew nothing but love. I just had a lot of faith that this was our journey for whatever reason,” she said. “That didn’t change the fact that sometimes I was angry. But there were a lot of moments of grace that helped me get through it.”
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Hartge said their Catholic priest helped her to find another doctor, and that doctor referred them to a program called Isaiah’s Promise, which provides support to families of unborn babies with a fatal diagnosis. Perinatal hospice programs increasingly are available to help families like Hartge’s. They provide life-affirming support, counseling and resources to parents who choose life for babies who are expected to die in the womb or soon after birth. These programs help counteract the notion that aborting an unborn baby with a fatal illness is the best, most compassionate option.
Hartge said she is grateful for the time they had with Hope, who was stillborn not long after Christmas.
“On Christmas Eve, about two weeks before my due date, we lost Hope’s heartbeat. That was one thing I hadn’t prepared for, and I broke into tears. Right after Christmas, I was induced and delivered. As terrible as it was, I’d had the days before to grieve, so I was able to celebrate her that day. My grandmother said this was the closest we were going to get to God, and we all felt that when we held her,” she said.
Now, she said her work as a neonatal intensive care nurse is even more meaningful.
“My coworkers were so amazing: They donated their vacation time to me so I could take more time off if I wanted to,” Hartge said. “But after two months, I had to go back. I wanted to take care of the babies. It somehow made me feel closer to Hope, and it still does.”
Baby Hope’s life was valuable. She did not live long, but she had value. Yet, even she faced discrimination. Medical professionals, abortion activists and others are trying to convince grieving families that some children are better off dead, that some people should not live because they have a disability or fatal condition. What they are promoting is discrimination in its deadliest form.
Killing is not compassionate. Destroying another human being’s life — rather than easing their suffering, showing them love and true compassion – must never be the answer.
Every human life has purpose, value, and it’s time for society to embrace that principle again.