- Posted February 13, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Have you had an abortion?
Abortion Story- A Man's Experiences of late-term abortion
Given that what I have written so far is a lot of text, I'll spare you the particulars of the abortion itself. It might be somewhat funny to note that we weren't sure where the abortion clinic was in Wichita, but were able to find it easily from seeing all the protestors. The clinic itself was striking in several ways. First, I was surprised to go through a security procedure involving a security guard and metal detector. On arriving in the main room of the clinic, the walls were covered with personalized letters of thanks to the clinic for the help they provided individual women, as well as the awards Dr. Tiller had received for his humanitarian service. I was quite surprised that Dr. Tiller approached his job with a missionary zeal and sense of humor (which personally took me a bit of time to adjust to given our circumstances). The protestors with their megaphones provided a droning backdrop to the proceedings. It's important to report that we weren't the only late-term abortion patients at the clinic at the time. Dr. Tiller had two other couples at the clinic at that time. He said that the clinic usually ran group counseling sessions for these types of pregnancies, one family which was Muslim, didn't want to participate with those outside their faith and after talking with the other family, we decided we didn't have a lot to talk through in a session.
We had to read and sign off on forms which described in detail the fetal pain involved in an abortion. Although I was privately upset that legislators were so callous as to not even think about situations such as ours, it occurred to me that if our twins felt pain, they were probably experiencing pain up to this point in the pregnancy as well.
The abortions themselves were performed by first injecting each fetus with digoxin, in order to cause cardiac death. I was surprised to be able to feel the moment when their lives ended. After inserting laminaria to promote dialation, we went back to the hotel for the evening and returned the next day for the abortions. Dr. Tiller administered what I later realized was a very high dose of Versed to my wife during this procedure. She was later to tell me that she didn't recall much of the days in Wichita at all. I realized this was probably an additional kindness I didn't realize at the time. I was present with my wife during the delivery of the twins. Although this was stressful and sad, it was good that I was there. I was surprised that Dr. Tiller asked me if I wanted to baptize the twins after they were delivered. Dr. Tiller let me hold them for a bit and I was surprised to see him step back and wipe a few tears during this. I was surprised, a few weeks later, to receive an envelope with pictures of our twins in a card bearing bearing the words "Dignity" and "Respect."
I have to tell you now that these events happened some years ago. My daughter, who was five at the time of these abortions is now in college and we have since then adopted a wonderful boy from China who shows me the energy and humor of his thirteen years.
You may rightly wonder what would motivate me to share this story with you and others. At the time of our abortions I honestly felt very alone because these medical decisions are not things that one can comfortably tell those around you. I also thought that the political stigma of having an abortion under these circumstances was immoral and obscene. I told myself that if there was anything I could do which would somehow help couples in similar situations that I would do so. This has taken the form of testifying to senate and house committee hearings dealing with increased abortion restrictions or outlawing abortion outright. It has involved interviewing with the news media and writing letters to the editor and elected representatives. It is often difficult, even in light of the time which has passed, but I feel it is a small token of gratitude to the medical and health professionals who helped my family at a time when we needed it most.
I am an unlikely looking activist. My six-foot frame and kind of Amish-looking grey beard cause the anti-choice protestors to cheer when they see me walking toward a clinic protest as some unfamiliar new ally. They're somewhat dismayed to see me walk across the street to join the supporters of our local Planned Parenthood clinic. Others tell me that doctors would always make exceptions for "people like us" and "would do the right thing" even if these procedures are made illegal. From talking with Dr. Tiller and others, I know that this is not so. They tell me if these procedures are banned, they will stop doing them. These families need protection and their situations need to be part of the public dialogue on abortion rights.
I have interviewed with CNN on the occasion of Dr. Tiller's murder: http://cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/bestoftv/2009/06/04/ac360.tiller.patient.intv.cnn.html