Mike was a mechanical engineer excited about his new career opportunities, while Joy was a nurse working at a local hospital. They were thrilled to be pregnant a second time and were hoping this pregnancy would progress without complications, especially after being warned that a blood test revealed their first baby had an 80 percent chance of having Down syndrome.
Their doctor compelled them to watch a video about having an abortion, encouraging them to abort their baby. If they had done so, they would have aborted a perfectly normal little girl.
Joy eagerly anticipated her first obstetrics ultrasound in the middle of this second pregnancy. While the ultrasound was being performed, Joy intently watched the face of the technician. Her eager anticipation slowly turned to concern as the facial expression of the tech turned from soft to hard, from warm to cold. The casual conversation stopped, replaced by stony silence. Not saying a word, the tech left the room, leaving Joy alone with her confused jumble of thoughts: “What’s wrong? What did she see?”
Momentarily, the doctor entered the room wearing his long white coat and carrying Joy’s chart in his hand. He viewed the ultrasound screen and then asked Joy to get dressed and come into his office. Closing the door and sitting at his large desk across from her, the doctor informed Joy that “the ultrasound revealed your baby has serious issues. The baby’s head is much too small, indicating chromosomal anomalies. We will need to do further tests to confirm all of this, but I don’t believe your baby will survive. The baby will probably die before birth, or immediately after, and will be seriously deformed. You don’t have to go through with the pregnancy. We can terminate it now and end the emotional pain of it all.”
The doctor was talking, but Joy was not hearing. She didn’t hear anything past “your baby has serious issues,” at which point her mind flew in a thousand directions. “Where is Mike? Why is he not here? How am I going to tell my mother? How am I going to tell my friends? What will everybody think about me having a ‘baby with issues?’ ”
She was looking at the doctor, but not seeing his face or hearing his voice. She came back to the present moment as he asked, “Do you understand?” She nodded slowly, not understanding at all. She walked out to her car and began to weep silently, praying with an anguished heart, “Lord, how can this be happening to me?”
There was much praying and crying in their home over the next few days. Terminating the pregnancy to avoid emotional distress was never even a consideration for this devout young Christian couple who valued the sanctity of life. Cupping his wife’s lovely face and staring into her blue eyes rimmed with tears, he inquired, “Why can’t we love you both?”
That question settled the issue for them, although Joy had to decline the obstetrics doctor’s persistent pressure for her to “end this pregnancy now and avoid the emotional turmoil.” To which she replied, “I would rather do the right thing now — even though it’s hard — than endure a lifetime of knowing I killed my baby.” The doctor pressured her so much that her young and determined husband showed up at the doctor’s office to tell him to “back off because we have made our decision.”
At 30 weeks, Robin Starr was born. She was beautiful in the eyes of God and in the eyes of her parents. As they gazed at their precious newborn daughter, they realized that “God had woven her in her mother’s womb” and that she “was fearfully and wonderfully made.” She lived for four hours before she breathed her last breath and went to be with Jesus, where she waits for Mike and Joy and her four sisters to join her. “And in Your book were all written the days (minutes) that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them” (Psalm 139:16, NASB).
“If I had ended that pregnancy early,” Joy concluded, “merely to avoid 10 weeks of emotional distress, I would have violated all of my biblical convictions and my conscience. I would have ruined my testimony forever. I’m not saying it was easy, but it was better than having a lifetime of regret.”
Moses challenged all of us when he instructed the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 30:19 (NASB): “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have placed before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.”
In choosing life, Mike’s question will always be pertinent. Why can’t we love them both?
— Robert Jackson is a family physician in Spartanburg. Read more at www.jacksonfamilyministry.com.