Yesterday, a woman named Christy Zink testifed before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcomittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice to discuss a bill proposed by Rep. Trent Franks to ban abortions after 20 weeks. Zink spoke about her difficult decision in 2009 to have an abortion at 22 weeks after she learned the fetus she was carrying was severely disabled.
In response to her testimony, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, also a Republican, publicly shamed Zink and her family for terminating a late-term pregnancy and suggested she should have carried the possibly nonviable pregnancy to term just on principle.
In her testimony (which you can read in full online) Zink spoke eloquently about the care she took during a much-wanted pregnancy and how, at 21 weeks, one MRI scan changed everything. She explained:
[W]hen I was 21 weeks, pregnant, an MRI revealed that our baby was missing the central connecting structure of the two parts of his brain. A specialist diagnosed the baby with agenesis of the corpus callosum. What allows the brain to function as a whole was simply absent. But that wasn’t all. Part of the baby’s brain had failed to develop. Where the typical human brain presents a lovely, rounded symmetry, our baby had small, globular splotches. In effect, our baby was also missing one side of his brain.
Zink said that her family researched possible ways to help her child, if carried to term, to cope with such a disability:
There would be no miracle cure. His body had no capacity to repair this anomaly, and medical science could not solve this tragic situation. … The prognosis was unbearable. No one could look at those MRI images and not know, instantly, that something was terribly wrong. If the baby survived the pregnancy, which was not certain, his condition would require surgeries to remove more of what little brainmatter he had, to diminish what would otherwise be a state of near-constant seizures
If her fetus survived the pregnancy at all, “he might never have left the hospital,” she explained, and her young daughter would have suffered from absent parents. Zink decided to have an abortion at 22 weeks “out of love and to spare my son’s pain and suffering.” She concluded:
It’s in honor of my son that I’m here today, speaking on his behalf. I am also fighting for women like me, to have the right to access safe, legal, high-quality abortion care when we need to beyond 20 weeks — especially for those women who could never imagine they’d have to make this choice. Women across this country need to be able to make this very private decision with their partners, their doctors, and trusted counselors. I urge you not to pass this harmful legislation.
That’s the kind of speech that requires a standing ovation. But Rep. Gohmert told Zink that, “having my great sympathy and empathy,” in his opinion she still should have carried the pregnancy of her fetus missing half of its brain to term just to, you know, see what would happen. He lectured, using graphic language of the anti-abortion movement:
“I still come back wondering, shouldn’t we wait … and see if the child can survive before we decide to rip him apart? So, these are ethical issues, they’re moral issues, they’re difficult issues, and the parents should certainly be consulted. But it just seems like, it’s a more educated decision if the child is in front of you to make those decisions.”
Wow. That’s disgusting. This woman ended her much-wanted pregnancy because of a developmental abnormality and a Republican politician not only shames her for “decid[ing] to rip him apart” by having an abortion instead of attempting to carry a pregnancy to term, but implies choosing an abortion is un-”educated.” (And, yes, in case you are wondering, Rep. Gohmert continued to graphically describe how abortions are performed in an attempt, I suppose, to further shame Zink for her baby-murdering.)
He seems completely incapable of understanding why an abortion, in this decision and many others, is the compassionate decision for everyone involved. Are people who oppose abortion really so convinced that every single pregnancy is all fairydust and unicorn horns that they can’t understand why women choose abortions? That’s the only explanation I can think of for why they it’s their business to climb into a woman’s uterus and tell her what to do with the blood and flesh she’s carrying.
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