by Lauren Pope
My first pregnancy was terminated at 29 weeks, but I didn’t have an abortion. Because of a preterm, premature rupture of membranes 7 weeks earlier, my womb had become septic.
Despite that, both I and my child survived. My pregnancy was terminated via an emergency cesarean section to save both of our lives. There was never any question that everything possible would be done to save my son. He was born gray with an Apgar score of 1, but he was alive.
17 years later, he is healthy and thriving. He’s written several novels and is a constant joy in this dark world. But the current abortion debate has consistently overlooked stories like his. We hear many, many stories of abortions performed or wished for due to late-term prenatal catastrophes, but very rarely do we hear stories of survival.
Why is that? Well, for one thing, abortion proponents have an outsized share of the microphone. It’s easy to get your story in print if it solidifies legalized abortion. It’s harder when the story goes against the popular narrative.
The other reason, though, might just be more insidious. I’ve heard many stories of doctors pressuring women into unwanted abortions following this sort of pregnancy complication. I was incredibly lucky. Although I was just shy of viability when I ruptured at 21 weeks, my medical team was willing to fight for both of our lives. They gave me the option to do nothing and let labor continue, but they were very supportive when I told them that I would like to attempt to remain pregnant as long as possible.
Then they gave me treatment to keep me pregnant. Some pregnant people are not offered even basic treatment like antibiotics following their ruptures. This lack of treatment almost guarantees infection and the death of the child, and potentially the mother, but it serves as a cudgel to convince everyone involved that there is no hope.
While I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking that a preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM) is not a dire situation, I want to make it clear that there is a possibility for survival. If you only read the mainstream media reporting on late-term abortion, you might think that the only course of action in such a situation is an immediate abortion, but this really couldn’t be further from the truth. Everything should be done to extend the pregnancy as long as possible while recognizing that infection or unstoppable labor would necessitate delivery if and when it happens. Critically though, this does NOT mean that the child should ever be intentionally killed.
Even if a rupture tragically happens before viability, I believe it is far less traumatic to deliver the baby alive, allowing the family to hold her and grieve her passing, compared to a D&E, which in my opinion is a barbaric procedure that is brutal to both mother and the child. Abortion proponents are typically silent when it comes to such technicalities, but they matter very greatly to the ones involved.
Ending a pregnancy pre-term is not an abortion. Period. The goal is always to fight for both mother and child, even though there are times when the child is too young to be saved. No one on the pro-life side wants any mother to die in childbirth. In fact, many of us are actively engaged in fighting to lower the maternal mortality rate. The vicious lie that we want women to die has real-world consequences. Women are terrified, and children who could have been saved end up dying because of stories that paint death as the inevitable conclusion of pregnancy complications.
Unfortunately, this misinformation is not limited to late-term loss. Again and again, I have seen activists state that women who have D&Cs or take medication following an incomplete miscarriage are also at legal risk should Roe be overturned.
Let me be very explicit here: medical or surgical management of a miscarriage is not at risk. I believe the confusion here comes from the fact that miscarriages are often coded as "spontaneous abortions" in medical files. This is unfortunate, and many grieving families have stated how much they wish different terminology was used.
Even so, there is absolutely no intention on the part of the pro-life movement to prevent women from managing their miscarriages in whatever way they and their doctors see fit. A miscarriage is critically different from an elective abortion. The child has already died. The only life left to save is the pregnant person's. There is absolutely no ethical conundrum involved. All doctors are trained in procedures to manage miscarriage, and even the world's most pro-life obstetricians would not hesitate to perform them if needed.
I personally had a D&C following a missed miscarriage, where the sac had continued growing after my baby had passed. I never would have been able to pass the sac on my own because there was not sufficient pressure on my cervix. I am very grateful that there was a surgical option available that saved my life when I would not stop bleeding.
The final situation that is often spoken of in terms of non-abortion terminations is termination because of ectopic pregnancy. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can consistently be done at this time to save a child who has implanted in the wrong location. The pro-life movement has continually affirmed that removing the child in this situation is NOT an act of violence directed at the child, but rather is a lifesaving measure for the mother. There are a few other early pregnancy conditions that would fall under a similar umbrella. The majority of pro-life laws include an exception for the life of the mother for this reason. Surviving an ectopic pregnancy is the same, ethically, as having a miscarriage. It is a tragic situation, not an elective abortion.