The baby would likely be stillborn in the seventh or eighth month. If carried, miraculously, to term, it would suffer from Trisomy 18, likely Down syndrome and heart failure. It did not possess a nasal bone….

Other women may have carried to term, or as close to term as possible, a child whose condition could allow it to live for a few days, or weeks, or maybe a few years. But faced with the impossibility of this loss, we chose to face it then, before a child had the chance to win our hearts and let us hope for the impossible.

The abortion… happened in an understaffed hospital, in which I lay in bed with the fetus for 20 minutes after it was expelled, waiting for a nurse to remove it. I didn’t want to see it, and neither did my husband. That was another choice we had made…. In the coming days, as we collected and submitted the paperwork for our insurance company, the loss of a baby that we had briefly imagined began to sink in….

Then our insurance company responded. Our claim had been denied. Because the pregnancy was not the result of rape or incest and did not threaten my life, it was considered an elective procedure. We relied on federal insurance, the same plan available to all State Department employees. It’s a basic plan, adequate for our typical needs, but bound by legal restrictions concerning federal spending and abortion. We… began digging up $5,000 to pay for the abortion.

While the tone and content of the abortion debate has shifted and raged over the past several years, a steady 50% have believed that abortion should only be legal under the hardest of circumstances…. We can, by giving up a trip home, stretching our grocery budget and ending our date nights, pay for our choice. But what’s been lost in this compromise is how tough that choice can be.

~ Sheila Sundar (pictured), describing her abortion in Egypt, NY Times’ Motherlode, October 21

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