“Pro-Life” May Mean “Pro-Choice”

I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to my nephew, Palmer.  He is an adorable 1 year old, and the son of my younger brother.

My brother and his wife had difficulty getting pregnant.  After a great deal of anxiety, money, and medical technology, my sister-in-law was able to become pregnant. The really exciting and amazing news was that she was pregnant with twins.  My brother arrived at Thanksgiving dinner filled with elation, wearing a Minnesota Twins jersey, to announce their news.  The pregnancy progressed for about three months without complication.  In the fourth month the doctors advised that one of the twins was severely malformed.  Just one of the many abnormalities of this fetus was a brain abnormality that was similar to hydro encephalopathy, but much more severe.  The worst of the problems for this twin was that its main blood vessels were abnormal.  There was a complete absence of any blood vessel leading from the heart to the lungs.  This meant that the only reason that this fetus was alive was that it was getting oxygen from its mother’s blood.  At birth, after the mother’s blood would no longer oxygenate the baby, it would suffocate and be dead within a couple of minutes.

Being Catholic, my brother was opposed to abortion, and was willing for his wife to carry this fetus to term, knowing the inevitable outcome.  However things changed in the fourth month of the pregnancy.  The “Angel Baby”, which was in a separate amniotic sac, started to accumulate an excessive amount of amniotic fluid.  The baby that appeared to be healthy was starting to be compromised.  The level of amniotic fluid in the amniotic sac of the healthy twin was dangerously low.  The doctor predicted that if the pregnancy was allowed to continue without intervention the healthy baby would die.  The doctor recommended termination of “Angel Baby”.  Shock, despair, and grief were just some of the feelings that consumed my brother and his wife. After consulting three other doctors, and getting the same advice from the others, termination of the “Angel Baby” was the only option if they were to save Palmer.  The picture above is proof that they made the right decision.  They made the decision to choose life, by terminating the pregnancy of a fetus that would have died upon birth.  To the rest of the family, the decision to terminate the unhealthy twin seemed the obvious choice.  However this decision, at the time, was the hardest choice my brother and his wife had ever had to make.

I share this personal story with everyone today because it is the best example I can give to illustrate that none of us are in a position to appreciate the unique situations that mothers and fathers may face with regard to terminating a pregnancy.  Sarah Palin has made her right to life views known from the time she ran for Mayor of Wasilla.  Of the many candidates she has endorsed, the one thing that is the common thread among all is their proclaimed stance on abortion.  It appears that Palin’s view of a woman’s right to choice, or Palin’s wish to abolish that right, is the single most important issue to her.  Adults and children are killed every day unnecessarily by guns.  Those deaths represent the end of life for people who were able to sustain life, until someone ended that right.  Palin doesn’t donate her time when she gives speeches to right to life groups, but she donated her time to the NRA.  Palin suggests that war is God’s plan.  Who is speaking up for, and being an advocate for, the thousands of American soldiers, civilians, and children killed in the Iraq war?  Unwanted children are born in the United States and become the victims of abuse, neglect, and even death.  Workers in mines and on off-shore rigs are killed due to lack of compliance with safety standards.  Yet Palin advocates less governmental intrusion in our lives, even though those are each cases where more governmental involvement might have saved lives.  Surely each of those tragedies, involving our sons and daughters, are more egregious than aborting a fetus that is not sufficiently developed to independently sustain life.

As a society, our values and moral judgments come with a price tag.  I previously devoted an entire post to the cost to America of reversing Roe v. Wade. Our national debt has become one of the most pressing issues in our country today. The reality is that if we can’t sustain our economy as it exists now, we do not have the luxury of adding additional debt associated with unwanted children.  Debt is causing collapse of entire countries, including Greece and Portugal.  In our struggle to manage our debt we can ill afford to increase our debt by adding the expense associated with another war, additional entitlements, or the cost of supporting an additional one million unwanted children every year.

Unfortunately it seems that all too often the issue of abortion is associated with the notion that it is the preferred birth control method of promiscuous teenage girls.  However those teenage girls must have a boy to impregnate them, before abortion is needed.  Those teenage girls are women who have not had the benefit of an education about birth control, or lack the financial means to obtain appropriate birth control.  The incontrovertible fact is that today in the United States premarital sex is “universal”.  An estimated 95% of people engage in premarital sex.  Thus 95% of the politicians, who publically advocate a “right to life” agenda, appreciate the importance of birth control education and ensuring that birth control is available.  Why are those politicians, and people like Sarah Palin, who so vehemently oppose abortion, not dedicating themselves to birth control education and accessibility?

Abortion is always an emotional issue, regardless of whether you support the right to choose, or not. The critical consideration is that the choice should be personal.  None of us can know how we would react if our daughters were raped or became the victims of incest.  We can’t comprehend how we might react if our daughters became suicidal because of an unwanted pregnancy.  It is impossible to anticipate every circumstance that might present itself, as the example of my brother illustrates.   I can’t know why Lynn Vincent, the ghost writer of Palin’s book Going Rogue, made the choice to have an abortion.  I don’t feel it is my place to impose my beliefs on her.  If a person’s faith dictates that abortion is always evil, regardless of the circumstances, our Constitution ensures their right to refuse that option for themselves.  It appears Palin was pregnant when she married Todd, as indicated by Lorenzo Benet in Trailblazer. I respect her right to choose to get married and have the baby.  If Bristol chose to give birth to a baby out of wedlock as a teenage mother, I also respect her right to make that choice.  However I also respect my brother’s choice to protect the life of his unborn child.  Sometimes choosing life means choosing to have an abortion.  We should not presume to know what is best for another.  We can not, as a country, afford to make that choice for another.

17 thoughts on ““Pro-Life” May Mean “Pro-Choice”

Add yours

  1. The bottom line is that government — the same government that Palin wants out of most of her life — should be out of the bedroom.

    As you point out painfully in this personal story, abortion is a personal decision. The sanctimonious (mostly male) politicians who oppose abortion have no right dictating personal decisions. Period.


  2. Malia, This is a great post, and i would like to post it on my facebook page. Since I have only basic computer skills, I don’t know how to accomplish this. Can you help me? This sweet little boy and this story is one that everyone should see. I hope you can get it on Huffington Post too.


    1. Ina,

      In order to post this on your Facebook, you will need to copy of the link to the article. https://malialitman.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/%E2%80%9Cpro-life%E2%80%9D-may-mean-%E2%80%9Cpro-choice%E2%80%9D/ Next, you will need to paste the link on your Facebook. The Facebook Publisher lets you share content on Facebook. It is located at the top of both your home page and on your profile. Both locations offer the same functionalities.

      Pasted the link in the Publisher text box and click “Share”. Clicking inside the text box displays additional types of content that you can share.

      The Publisher also allows you to select a privacy setting for every post you make. After clicking inside the text box, or attaching your content, look for the lock icon next to the “Share” button. Clicking on it will bring up a menu that lets you choose who will be able to see your post, from Everyone, to Friends, to Friends of Friends.

      If you type in the Publisher box and then add content (e.g., a link or a video), the text will appear as a comment above the content you have shared. It will not appear as a new status update or replace your current status.

      Hope this helps! – Torie


  3. Is it possible that on an unconscious level it is essential for her to believe that she should have the power to determine who lives and who dies? Why else would the tragedies of other people’s lives – people who are completely unknown to her and whose circumstances she can not begin to understand – be so crucial to the formation of her political talking points?

    I am pro-life in the fullest sense (ie, I care deeply about the health, environment, welfare, and circumstances of already-born persons), but I simply can not relate to the kind of in-your-face, refusal to ‘mind your own business’, type of control tactics that the so-called pro-lifers utilize.


  4. A very powerful message is in this post and that is that the choices that are made are those of an individual, each with its own set of complex issues that guide mother and father to their decision. We don’t know what others feel nor do we have the right to dictate what they should or should not do. Unfortunately, Malia, even in this day and age there are far too many people who would like to be able to tell your sister-in-law and brother to put it in God’s hands and he would take care of everything. Thankfully, we still have an individual right to choice. Whether we choose to carry a pregnancy to term, no matter the circumstances surrounding conception, remains the choice of the woman carrying the child. We can never again let men dictate what women can and cannot do with their very own body.


    1. AKRNC, Your kind words are all too true! I send a copy of the post to my brother and he advised me that the result of their choice is that he is ex-communicated from the Cathloic church, as the church doesn’t recognize the right to “EVER” terminate a pregnancy, regardless of even the mother’s life in jeopardy. This post was not intended to be a religious commentary, but…maybe it should be. malia


  5. I’d like to see your comments spark the kind of honest, thorough discussion they deserve–I’d like to see the anti-choice community deal thoughtfully with the kind of dilemma your nephew’s parents faced. Ain’t gonna happen. They “know” they’re right and we’re wrong.
    I am so disgusted with the anti-choice crowd and their goofy, twisted arguments for their position. Government should stay out of the business of business–no regulations for oil companies!–but not out of the business of private, often wrenching, decisions between women and their consciences and their doctors. Their santimonious moralizing about “life” is ridiculous and disgusting. By their logic, both babies should have died, rather than permit the abortion that permitted Palmer to live.


    1. Mara, Thanks for sharing your reaction to this most personal situation! Obviously I couldn’t agree more! When I see my nephew, and think what the alternative was, there was no choice in my mind. If it had happened to me I know what my choice would be. If the US didn’t have the type of laws that would have allowed me to have the proceedure done, I would go to any country that would enable me to save the life of my son. When I think about Palmer, and the fact that he would not have been born but for my brother’s insurance funding the proceedure, I think about the alternative faced by indigent women who can’t get this proceedure covered because our legislators won’t approve funding, it makes me crazy! Malia


  6. Whenever you encounter someone who says they are Pro-Life, pin ’em down to exactly what they mean. Many, many people identify themselves in polls as Pro-Life, but when asked whether they support the repeal of Roe v. Wade, there is much less consensus.

    The fact is that once you let any situation become an ‘exemption’ to the law (let’s say, no abortions – except in the case of ……..), you are making a personal decision for someone else. Obviously the law cannot determine every individual situation – such as Malia’s brother and SIL’s story.

    So what I like to try to get these people to understand, is exactly what Malia’s article title says.

    I can uphold Roe v. Wade and allow abortions to be performed in the US while at the same time working to prevent abortions by working to reduce unwanted pregnancies.

    However, if in some crazed USA where Roe v. Wade would be repealed, Malia’s brother and SIL would be guilty of murder and should (you would think) be thrown in jail. That I cannot accept.

    So, Pro-Choice CAN be Pro-Life, but Pro-Life cannot be Pro-Choice UNLESS you qualify the circumstances where abortion is not considered illegal. And that should not be the role of the government, but the role of the parent/s and the doctors involved in the individual cases.


    1. MarvinM, Thanks for your comment, and obviously, I agree and hope that people will realize that if they agree that having an abortion in Palmer’s case was the right “choice” …then they are necessarily “Pro-choice”. Malia


  7. Thanks for sharing this story. There are so many variables in making the choice to have an abortion. Unfortunately, its not black or white like the ignorant politicians who oppose it perceive it to be. Your story exposed other issues involved.
    Palmer is such a cutie, I know your family adores him.


    1. Kallie, Thanks for your kind words. Yes my entire family adores him, and especially his parents. He is truely a blessing and they went through so much to have him, and it was so incredibly hard at the time to have an abortion, but of course the end result is a wonderful baby boy. It pains me to hear people suggest that people make the decisions so easily and that they are so evil if they make that decision. When you look at Palmer, its hard to say that abortion is always a bad thing. It saved his life! Malia


  8. When our Representative, Dave Camp, writes that he “supports the unborn,” I become really annoyed. He votes consistently against any program that will help children, whether it involves healthcare or education. He opposes any federal program that helps the families of children, whether it involves healthcare or employment. He, along with his Republican colleagues, have never met a federal regulation that they do not want to abolish. But he loves to waste time and taxpayer money to redefining “rape” or defunding Planned Parenthood or forcing hospitals to stop performing abortions whatever the situation may be.

    I am pro-choice. Having experienced a very difficult pregnancy (with a good result, thank God), I know that no one can judge the situation that another person is in and I assume that the decision to abort a baby is not made lightly but is the result of long and painful thought.

    Above all, I think we, as a nation, owe our attention to those children who are in the here and now and to their families. The first best gift we can give children is good healthcare and the promise of good, well-funded schools. This is true in so many countries; why can it not be true here? Mr. Camp and his Republican colleagues would unfortunately disagree with me.


    1. Beaglemom,
      It is just tragic that there are so many children that are unwanted . It surely seems that “pro-life” people are so worried about the fertilized eggs, instead of people and children starving in the world. I wonder how they can reconcile their attitudes?


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