“What Kind of Mother is 8 Months Pregnant and Wants an Abortion?”

Just after Christmas, the popular fast news website Yahoo News published the article “What Kind of Mother Is 8 Months Pregnant and Wants an Abortion?”  “as an example of one of our best of 2015.” (emphasis added)

In this story, an anonymous woman called “Kate”, a married mother of one daughter, found out at almost 8 months that her unborn second daughter had Dandy-Walker Syndrome, a genetic disorder that can result in mental and physical disabilities. A subsequent test was said to show severe brain abnormalities.

Kate, now an administrator of the website “Ending a Wanted Pregnancy” which includes a Poor Prenatal Diagnosis Index, decided to have an abortion-for her unborn daughter’s sake. Adoption and keeping the baby were mentioned as options but were rejected by Kate without explanation.

As Kate relates her story:

The doctor said, “We expect your baby to have moderate to severe mental retardation; she’s going to have moderate to severe physical disability; she is probably never going to walk or talk; she will possibly never be able to lift her head; she is going to have seizures all of the time… (and) Babies like this one are not generally comfortable enough to sleep.”

In that moment, I had to shift my thinking. I was hoping for special ed, and had been focusing on questions like: How much should you save to know your special-needs daughter will be OK after you die? I was thinking about long-term care and mild to moderate disability. Instead, I had to think about a baby who was probably not going to live very long, and the longer she lived, the more pain she would be in. That realization – that I was more scared of her living than of her dying — is what made the choice for me.

Kate then tells how difficult and expensive ($25,000) it was to find an abortionist to perform such a late abortion. Kate’s doctor eventually found one in Colorado, far from Kate’s home in Boston and Kate endured a four day abortion procedure.

Kate relates the procedure:

The whole first day was counseling and testing to make sure it was safe to do the procedure. They want to make sure you completely understand what is going to happen and that no one is pressuring you into the decision. At the end of the day, I signed all the paperwork, and the doctor injected the baby with a drug that, over a few hours, slowed her heart to still. It was a very, very difficult day. Euthanizing the baby is, obviously, a very hard thing to do. (emphasis added)

On the fourth day, labor was induced and Kate delivered her dead daughter.

Kate’s 2 year old daughter cried when Kate told her that her expected sister was “gone”. Three years after the abortion, Kate says

Now, every six months or so, we talk about it again — her understanding of it evolves as she grows. At this point, she knows the baby died because she was sick in a way the doctors couldn’t fix, because she had holes in her brain, and you need your whole brain to be healthy.

Kate’s story was obviously meant to generate sympathy for a distraught mother and thus show why abortion should continue to be legal. However, the shocking description of the third trimester abortion and the continued effect on the mother and sister undermine the narrative that abortion is the best option in such a difficult situation.


Personally, I know what it is like to be told that your baby has severe problems and might die. I was told just a short time after my daughter Karen was born that she had an inoperable heart defect and would live just “2 weeks to 2 months.” I know the panic and fear that mothers like Kate must feel but in my case, as in many others, the doctor turned out to be  wrong about her terminal diagnosis.

Although my Karen later died of complications from pneumonia before her open heart surgery, I treasure the almost 6 months we had together and I have no regrets.

Today, I also have a wonderful stepdaughter who has Turner’s Syndrome, one of the conditions listed in the Poor Prenatal Diagnosis Index on the  “Ending a Wanted Pregnancy” website, and she is now a kind, generous woman who has no mental or physical disabilities.

In both these cases, abortion would have “solved” nothing.

Unfortunately, stories like Kate’s are desperately discouraging to women and families facing a difficult prenatal diagnosis. Tragically, the article also ignores the help and resources available to help such children and their families.

For example, the article does not mention groups like local Birthright centers and the website Prenatal Partners for Life which is “dedicated to providing families, either expecting, or those who have had, a child with special needs or a life limiting condition, the support, information, and encouragement they need to make informed decisions involving their preborn or newborn child’s care.” There are also support and information websites for specific conditions like the Dandy-Walker Alliance , the condition that Kate’s baby had.

And anyone who reads pro-life news sites such as Life News  and NRL News Today  has read many inspiring stories of hope and even unexpected happiness when a woman chooses life for her baby despite a difficult or even terminal diagnosis.

These and other other websites also contain information about Project Rachel, an organization that helps women, men and even families to heal after abortion.


I am not writing this blog to condemn Kate or other women who have had abortions. My heart goes out to them and I wish I could have had a chance to personally offer help, options, encouragement and information. I consider these women as additional victims of the abortion mentality that has so infected our society.

However, I do have a problem with abortion supporters who use such tragic stories to garner sympathy and support for their political agenda of legal abortion at any time for any reason and paid for by taxpayers as “reproductive health”.

Women and their babies deserve better.

Miracle Baby Comes Home for Christmas

Francesca and Lee Moore-Williams held their beautiful 18 month old daughter Bella’s hand as her ventilator was turned off and they waited for her death. But just 30 minutes later, Bella awoke  “kicking and screaming” according to the UK’s Mirror newspaper article “Miracle baby whose life support was turned off home for Christmas”. Five months later, she is scheduled to come home this Christmas.

Bella’s health became a concern in April when clumps of her hair fell out. Three months later, she took a turn for the worse and was admitted to a hospital in critical condition. Doctors told the parents that a MRI scan showed abnormalities on both sides of her brain and at some point, the decision was made to turn off the ventilator supporting her breathing.

According to the Mirror article:

She was later diagnosed with the genetic disorder Biotinidase deficiency, which is so rare it affects just one in every 60,000 births.

Sufferers of the condition do not produce enough biotin – a vitamin which is essential for healthy cell growth.

The deficiency can be fatal if left untreated but will now be managed safely with tablets.

And today:

Bella, of Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, who turns two in January, is now learning to walk and talk and her hair is growing back.

Experts say she is around eight months behind other children her age but she is expected to catch up.

Francesca said: “She’s at nursery and to look at her you wouldn’t think she’s been through what she has.

Perhaps this Christmas “miracle” also holds a message about the need for hope and humility for those of us in the medical professions.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!



Contraception and Informed Consent

My late grandmother always told me “Never discuss religion, politics or sex”. Contraception can touch on all three of these topics and birth control itself can usually be counted on to arouse strong and conflicting opinions in any group.

However, contraception is crucially also a medical issue. With a range of contraceptive options and so many contrary claims about benefits and risks, it is essential for everyone, especially women and girls, to know the facts when they have to make a decision.

As Dr. David J. Hilger writes in his December 2015 article titled “Contraception and Informed Consent-Women Need a Full Account of the Risks”, the first oral contraceptive was marketed in 1960 and

“Despite early indications of severe and sometimes life-threatening risks, oral contraceptives were quickly approved and widely accepted. It was not until after oral contraception was widely utilized that many of the medical risks were published. Information regarding risk continues to be discovered and is reported in the medical literature, but it is not widely publicized.”

What I appreciated about this article was that it contained not only the latest information on some of the medical risks of oral contraceptives but also the latest research in Natural Family Planning, a routinely overlooked topic even in a doctor’s office or clinic. It is essential for women to know all the options, risks and benefits when making a birth control decision to have truly informed consent.


As a nurse, I thought I was well-informed about contraception when I started using the Pill in 1974. At that time, all I knew about side effects was the risk of weight gain which I experienced myself when I almost could not fit into my wedding dress! I stopped 18 months later when my husband, a doctor, read medical journal articles about the increased risks of blood clots with the Pill

I never used hormonal birth control again and I eventually learned and practiced Natural Family Planning which worked great for me in both conceiving and postponing pregnancy.

It was many years later when I discovered more information about contraceptives in medical journal articles about the possible post-fertilization (abortifacient) effects , increased risk of depression or, most ironically, increased risk of sexual dysfunction. For me, the knowledge of the possible abortifacient effect alone would have kept me from ever using hormonal contraception.

In recent years but rarely mentioned in the media, there has also been many  birth control lawsuits filed against a number of different kinds of birth control pills and devices.


My children and especially my daughters, gave me even more incentive to research the facts when their public schools gave sex education classes and I discovered glaring lapses and inaccuracies. For example, condoms were promoted as safe sex even though a Centers for Disease Control fact sheet admits that

However, condom use cannot provide absolute protection against any STD.”

Another example is that Natural Family Planning was ignored in favor of a negative depiction of the old “rhythm method”.

In the end, I believe that birth control is not a decision to be taken lightly and that women of all ages have the right to know the potential risks and options. I only wish I had known more myself in 1974.

All I Want For Christmas Is…..A Kidney

All I want for Christmas is a kidney but not for me. I want it for my wonderful daughter-in-law Bernie, short for Bernadette.

Bernie Valko had a kidney transplant when she was 15 years old after a birth complication damaged her kidneys and almost cost her life. For almost 17 years, Bernie did well with her new kidney, went to college and became an occupational therapist.

In September 2012, Bernie was set to marry my son Steve when her transplanted kidney failed the night before their wedding. Bernie told my son that, under the circumstances, they could cancel the wedding. Instead my son said his only regret was not marrying her sooner! No one knew before the wedding except family members. Nevertheless, Steve and Bernie’s wedding was a joyous occasion, although their honeymoon had to be postponed indefinitely.

Three days later, Bernie became very ill and was hospitalized. Dialysis was finally started but difficulties arose. Despite this, Bernie kept working as much as possible. Currently, she has dialysis 3 days a week and works three days a week. As a former dialysis nurse myself, I know that most dialysis patients are unable to work. However, Bernie is a trooper and even volunteers at their St. Louis, Mo. parish.

Bernie desperately needs a transplant. She needs a donor with an O+ blood type for a living donor transplant because such kidneys last almost twice as long and avoid the ethical concerns with other transplants.

Becoming a living kidney donor is not a decision to be made lightly. Information on becoming a living kidney donor is online at http://www.barnesjewish.org/become-a-kidney-transplant-living-donor . Bernie is now at the top of the Barnes Jewish Hospital waiting list.

In the meantime, Bernie and Steve also started a Facebook page “Find a Kidney for Bernie” with pictures and contact information if you or someone you know with an O+ blood type would like to be tested for a living kidney donation to Bernie.

Mass Shootings and Mental Illness

The rash of recent mass shootings is alarming, especially the most recent mass shooting in San Bernardino following so quickly after the Colorado Planned Parenthood one. Now, people are not only talking about mental illness as in the Planned Parenthood shooting but also the existence of evil as in the apparent terrorist attack in San Bernardino.

Can mental illness and evil be totally separate issues? I confess I don’t know the answer to this.

But I do know that our mental health system needs vast improvement from my own personal experiences.

My first husband and the father of my children was a brilliant, caring psychiatrist whose articles were published in medical journals. When I left bedside nursing to start our family, we had a plan for me to eventually join his private practice to specifically support the families of his patients. We both believed that families were ideally the best support system for people with mental illness and we hoped that such a plan would lead to better outcomes and help keep families together. Communication was key.

However, while our children were still small, my husband started slowly succumbing to severe mental illness himself despite treatment. I was frantic to help but at that time in the 1980s and even without the current HIPPA privacy rules, I was unable to get much information about his condition or how to help him from his psychiatrist even when there were multiple hospitalizations.

As his condition deteriorated, I was told by his psychiatrist that there was nothing I could do or not do to help the situation and that he was handling the situation. Then he told me that I should consider divorce for the sake of our children.

Since I believe in the sanctity of the marriage vows, especially the part about “in sickness and in health”, I soldiered on and got second and even third opinions for my husband. Nothing helped very much and I was still shut out from comprehensive discussion of treatment plans.

My husband finally abandoned our family and I reluctantly had to file for divorce. However, I still wanted to help him.

My now ex-husband eventually went on total disability for mental illness but since mental institutions were closed decades before for “less restrictive” measures, he became homeless and eventually shuffled from one assisted living facility to another until his death in 2014.

When our oldest daughter started using drugs at 14, I ran into many of the same problems with the mental health community. Even though she was a minor, she had the right to  “confidential health services”. This came about because it is thought that minors will be more likely to seek help from a doctor if confidentiality-even from parents- is assured in matters like sex and drugs. Unfortunately, as in my case, that meant that I could be mostly kept in the dark when it came to helping my child. I could pay for rehab but I couldn’t get much information or direction about helping my daughter. I contacted mental health organizations and tried to research support groups on my own with mixed results. My daughter died by suicide using an assisted suicide technique in 2009 when she was 30 years old.

We now have “mental health parity” under Obamacare which was intended to make mental health care better by increasing coverage. However, a recent Washington Post op-ed titled “The problem with Obamacare’s mental-health ‘parity’ measure”  shows how difficult it can still be for family or friends to get help for someone with a mental illness.

Mass shootings get our attention about gun control and terrorism issues but the mental health care crisis goes on. We need to do a better job and I still believe that mental health care must try to include and help the whole family for better long-term outcomes.