Doctor's Note: Respect Life

I am heartbroken and stunned by the remarks made in Virginia this week regarding late-term abortion. As a mother and a doctor, I am saddened that we have undertaken a debate about willfully terminating infant life during the final days of pregnancy or even during birth.

As an obstetrician, it’s my job and privilege to ensure that mother and baby BOTH make it through pregnancy healthy and well. When I reflect on the events of this week, I remember so many babies that delivered before term sometime in the third trimester. I have held and worried about so many fragile, premature babies and then watched them thrive thanks to amazing neonatal care. I am dismayed that a child of the same gestational age, with the same capacity to live and prosper, could be arbitrarily terminated, aborted, and abandoned.

Despite the differences between those of us who believe that human life should be protected at any gestational age and those who advocate for abortion, I honestly find it hard to believe we cannot agree that protecting a third trimester baby is the right thing to do. How can that be?

The treatment for a mother who is suffering a medical threat of any kind in the third trimester is not abortion but delivery. I have treated patients with life threatening medical and physiological conditions. We have counted the days to get into the third trimester to get a chance for a healthy baby. There is no possible advantage of abortion over birth at that stage and none of my patients would have benefited by the death of their baby. The idea that a doctor-patient consultation would lead to the recommendation for a third-trimester abortion is not medically authentic. Instead, it is politics at its worst.

I ask my colleagues to think before they speak or offer legislation. What we do matters for Virginia and our constituents. We must respect life and legislate with integrity.

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