by Jennifer Lee
Content Warning: This op-ed discusses infant death and suicide.
I spent yesterday in the ICU room of a baby who would never go home. I took professional photos of her as the chaplain stood in the corner and the staff talked to the family about organ donation. This family, who had dreamed of having another baby, calmly stayed with her as she prepared to leave this earth. Next, doctors will talk the family through what the end will be like. I don’t need to hear it. I have been here before.
Last year, I sat alone for hours with a 25-week gestation baby who struggled with every breath. I talked to him and prayed for him while taking photos for the only physical reminder of his brief and labored life. I was there as the mother pleaded with doctors to do something, and the doctor knelt by her and quietly talked to her. Minutes later the doctor stepped into the hallway to stand next to me to cry.
Last spring I sat with my friend who crumpled on my shoulder as she learned that her very wanted pregnancy came with a fair risk to both her life and her baby. She needed to find a new OB as hers couldn’t talk about if she may need an abortion to save her life; Swedish is a Catholic hospital. Days earlier, she held me as I checked one of my foster kids into suicide watch. We cried together.
So, for you to stand on the road as I drive my car to get serviced with my son in the backseat, and hold up a photo of a dead fetus with the words “a woman’s choice” — how dare you?
How dare you use a photo of a baby whose story you don’t know to further your agenda?
How dare you tell me what the reality of these choices look like?
How dare you spend your time creating shame about someone’s struggles, someone’s grief and pain?
I bet you believe yourself to be a good Christian woman. How dare you.
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📸 Featured Image: Artwork by Jennifer Lee using Creative Commons images.
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