In light of Congress’ proposed limitations on abortion, Judy Nicastro, a local mom and former Seattle councilwoman, shared her abortion story with the New York Times last week. She became pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl, via in vitro fertilization, but at 20 weeks, the doctor discovered that the boy’s chest organs weren’t developing due to a herniated diaphragm. Judy and her husband were heartbroken. They did not jump to abortion as an ‘easy’ answer. Judy wrote that “from the start, and through this ordeal, we were in complete agreement. We desperately wanted this child and would do whatever we could to save him, if his hernia was fixable and he could have a good quality of life.”
However, the prospects were bleak. She and her husband had to make the choice between an abortion that would take away her hopes of having a boy and a birth that would bring her son no quality of life. Ultimately they decided that they couldn’t lead their son to a lifetime of tubes and suffering: “The thought of hearing him gasp for air and linger in pain was our nightmare. We made sure our son was not born only to suffer. He died in a warm and loving place, inside me.” Abortion was one of two seemingly impossible options, but it was the right choice for them.
Judy and her husband deserved the twins they thought they would have. I can tell by her words that they are compassionate, loving people who would have provided a wonderful home for their son. Their other two children are lucky to have them as parents. I don’t know why such a tragedy happened to such a good family, but at least Judy and her husband had the freedom to choose how they dealt with it.
That freedom of choice is a fundamental right. How can a politician, or even another parent, make a blanket statement about what is right for everyone? How can people say abortion is a selfish choice, when the choice is so difficult and personal?
The lack of open communication about abortion in America concerns me. If we don’t hear about real people making real choices to terminate their pregnancies, we are susceptible to believing that women are mindlessly aborting left and right because of impossibly frivolous reasons. I therefore applaud Judy for making her story public, and I applaud the New York Times for providing Judy with such a high-profile space. Judy serves as a reminder that difficult family decisions need to remain in the hands of the family, not in those of a faraway government office.
By Kendall Reingold