DoubleX is collecting memories of women who received abortions from Dr. George Tiller, who was murdered in his Witchita, Kan. church on Sunday morning. The stories provide a good deal of insight into why women receive late-term abortions, and why Tiller’s work was so important. Tiller’s clinic was one of only three to provide late-term abortions in the United States.
One woman recalls her post-20 week abortion:
The baby had contracted a virus and you could see on the MRI that its organs were all messed up. It looked like there were bubbles in them, instead of solid masses like they were supposed to be. Then they figured out that the baby had been exposed to Fifth disease. All sorts of researchers contacted us, because they wanted to study it.
That was at about 20 weeks. I got a blood transfusion and I thought everything was cool. We went on vacation. But then we came back, and the doctor realized everything wasn’t cool. His brain had a hemorrhage. The MRI reminded me of my other son’s. He’s autistic, and when he was three he’d had an MRI that also showed abnormalities. At a minimum, they said the baby would have developmental delays. But the doctor also used the words: “This child could not make it into childhood.” I was six months along then, and I was already showing. But we couldn’t handle having another special needs kid. Psychically, we just couldn’t handle it.
. . . I cry all the time, and that will be for the rest of my life. Because I really, really wanted that baby.
And from another patient of Dr. Tiller’s
In July 1993, my husband and I received the worst news about our son’s impending birth: He suffered from multiple, severe fetal anomalies, both internal and external, thought to be the result of a rare blood disorder. If he could survive his early birth at 24 weeks he most likely would not survive his blood cancer beyond the age of 9.
. . . While still reeling from the shock, we were told we could take our chances and let the baby be born, but that the state would be forced to intervene if we did not then take every measure to keep our son alive. Or, we could consider two late-term abortion clinics—one in Wichita, Kan., the other in Holland! Our initial thoughts were “how could we be in a major NYC hospital in the United States and be told these are our only choices?” To say it was surreal is an understatement.