Wednesday, August 8, 2007

"We had no idea"

I've decided it's time to weigh in on the horrific story of Christy Freeman. As you may have known, police discovered four dead fetuses scattered throughout her home. The story goes that three were still-born and/or early miscarriages while one, apparently indisputably and, I would add, unforgiveably, she watched drown in the toilet.

I'm going to skip right over the debate on the ethics and legality of self-induced abortion and disposal of, umm, fetal remains and go straight on over to two other -- I would argue -- key issues.

First. Abortion is (still) safe and legal in this country. Anyone who is faced with an unwanted pregnancy and considering drastic steps should know this. In fact, everyone should know it in general.

Of course, there are legal date cut-offs to the procedure and we know that for reasons that may include depression, denial, irregular menstrual cycles, mental illness and weight issues, some women may not realize until relatively late in a pregnancy that they are, in fact, pregnant. That said, even if I can understand how a woman might somehow not know she was pregnant until the end of her second trimester the first time, how did that situation occur twice more? I would suggest that it might stand to reason that she'd pay more attention the next time her period was very late. (Also, it's useful to know that most states have "Save Haven" laws where a woman can safely and legally leave her infant, no questions asked, with a staff member at a hospital, emergency medical service, police station, or fire station. For specific state info click here.)

Truly, the entire tragic situation could have been avoided, safely and legally. Instead, among other things, she watched her baby drown.

Second. How did people not know what was going on? Statement after statement from friends, neighbors, loved ones: we had no idea, she would never do this. Can someone be that good at hiding a huge issue in her life? I personally cannot wince from a menstrual cramp or experience a 3 pound weight fluctuation without all of my friends noticing. I guess I may have especially observant friends or I'm particularly open about my goings on or both, but still. Three pregnancies -- one of which was twins -- no babies and nobody notices a thing?

Thoughts, anyone?


Anonymous said...

As astonishing as it may seem to have a second trimester abortion, I don't think one can understate the reasons you cite for waiting later in pregnancy to terminate. In addition, alcohol and drug abuse are strong risk factors for presenting in the second trimester, as is an inability to locate an abortion provider. With over 80% of US counties without a designated abortion provider and deceptive pregnancy counseling centers that only delay patients who may ultimately make the decision to terminate, access to care remains a serious consideration.

And while we all hope to make better decisions with our health the next time around, I'm afraid many of us are guilty of delaying a doctor's visit, for whatever condition, by just a few weeks because we managed to get by safely the last time. It is indeed safer to terminate at an earlier gestational age, but let's remember, its the woman at the center of this decision, not the duration of her pregnancy.

Samantha said...

To clarify, I didn't intend to express surprise at someone having an abortion in the 2nd trimester. I understand the reasons why a woman may be unable to access care before then. I meant to express surprise that someone would not KNOW she was pregnant until the ened of her second trimester and thus be unable to legally have an elective abortion (if that's even the case of Christy Freeman, I'm just pointing out that she had many alternatives to self-inducing an abortion and/or drowing a pre-term baby). I further meant to say that even if someone did fail to recognize her pregnancy ONCE, it seemed strange that she would fail to recognize it a second time.

Again, by no means did I mean to express any judgement on women who did not and/or were unable to have a 1st trimester abortion.

Apologies is there was confusion.