Respecting a Mother’s Hard Choice

Carrie DeKlyen’s story has been making waves lately. She was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer while pregnant and chose to forgot chemo so that her baby could be born, even though it would kill her. DeKlyen died shortly after her baby was born, and now 11 days after, the baby died as well.

These cases are tragic and heartbreaking and shows that life does not happen in a tidy fashion. Which subsequently means there are no right and wrong answers in these cases. There are only gambles and hindsight, and a mother’s sacrifice does not always result in a healthy, living baby. Pro-birthers applaud DeKlyen for sacrificing her life for her child. Others criticize her for choosing to die rather than fighting for her life and ability to care for her five living children. Others respect that there is no correct choice in these situations, and that it is up for each woman to choose which is best for her and her family.

DeKlyen had a very aggressive form of brain cancer. The procedure to treat her was experimental and, most likely, she would not have survived for long had she had chemo. Likely, DeKlyen was going to die either way. This is one of those nightmare situations you just have to hope you never find yourself in. I can see why she would decide to forgo an experimental procedure to give her unborn child a chance.

Yet, this is not a viable solution for everyone and every family. What I wish pro-birthers would realize is that in situations where the mother is sick or there are abnormalities, the possibility that the fetus will not develop properly is good, and that by prioritizing the life of the unborn fetus over the mother’s, they often risk the lives of both the mother and the fetus. In short, a mother sacrificing her life doe not guarantee a healthy baby. And, especially in cases where the mother has a good chance of surviving if she terminate a pregnancy to receive treatment, then that choice should be just as honored and respected as DeKlyen’s.

After all, if they are as “pro-life” as they claim to be, doesn’t that also extend to the life of the mother?

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