With the Supreme Court’s recent ruling regarding Roe v. Wade, it caused me to remember the summer I heard about newborns referred to as “Thalidomide babies.” I was quite young, perhaps just in my teens, when newscasters told of infants born with life-threatening birth defects. I recall sitting at our kitchen table, listening to the radio and asking my mother what had happened. She explained what she knew — that expectant mothers took something called Thalidomide, a drug prescribed by their obstetricians to ease morning sickness.
As an innocent youngster, I had no idea what “morning sickness” was and had no intention of asking Mom. Such things were not discussed in our home. All I knew was the drug caused trouble for the babies. I remember hearing that some were born with “fins” instead of hands or feet. Others were so deformed they died shortly after birth or were stillborn. Their mothers were overwhelmed with feelings of guilt. They didn’t know what they had done wrong and neither did their doctors. It seemed like nobody could explain why such a tragedy was happening.
Many decades later, I chanced upon “Call the Midwife,” a BBC mini-series. One season was devoted to the birth of Thalidomide babies in England. It showed the raw emotions of each mother as she looked at her baby. Some were so badly deformed the midwife swaddled the infant without showing it to its mother. It died shortly thereafter. The midwife felt this was the kindest thing she could do to spare the new mother more heartache than she thought the woman could bear.
That season raised ethical questions relevant today. Was the midwife wrong? Was it up to her to make a decision she knew would result in the death of the newborn? Was she playing God? Would a British court sentence her to imprisonment because she did something drastic? Did she make a rash decision in her attempt to spare the parents emotional pain as well as medical bills? The baby did not know it was deformed. Did the midwife deprive it of the affection it might have received from its family? Should she have taken the chance of a mother going mad when she saw the abnormal child she had birthed? I’m not going to offer an opinion one way or the other. I don’t know what I would have done if I had taken a prescription drug that robbed my child of a healthy brain or body. Thankfully, I was spared such anguish.
I’ve always avoided using the phrase “performed an abortion.” I thought a more apt description would be “committed an abortion.” A “performance” should be something beautiful like a ballet, not something that involves taking a life. Then I dismounted my high horse and thought about the victims of rape and incest. I thought about mothers who are forced to make a decision when they learn they’re carrying a child who will be severely physically or mentally challenged and unable to live what’s generally considered a “normal” life. Who am I to judge a woman for the choices she makes?
Who has the right to impose their will on females? Until High Court judges, state governors and legislators and people who call themselves Christians are willing to adopt severely deformed infants and those resulting from rape or incest, they have no moral right to condemn any woman who decides to end her pregnancy.
— To contact Sharon Kennedy, send her an email at authorsharonkennedy.com. Kennedy’s latest book, “The SideRoad Kids: Tales from Chippewa County,” is available from her, Amazon, or Audible.
Thank you, Sharon. Perfect. I remember those “Call the MIdwife” episodes. Heartbreaking. I so appreciate your taking a stand. You have the pulpit. People listen to (read) your words. I am so upset by the Roe v. Wade decision! I heard about a judge down south preventing an abortion for a young girl (11 or 12) who had been raped!
Thank you so much for speaking out. The “Christians”, the anti-abortionists, never think beyond the womb–never think of the horrendous burden; physically, mentally, emotionally, and monetarily, some births cause for many. They do not want to provide adequate, affordable, and comprehensive medical care for mother and child–nor do they want to assure living wages or affordable child care. They never think of the thousands of children who are emotionally, mentally, physically, or sexually abused by the very people who have brought them into this world. Where are they after the birth they so avidly support?
Thank you for the article.
Well done on the Trump piece.It captures what is really happening while being a bit silly. What’s not to like?
I care about our country so I won’t get off his back!! You are not the thought or word police.
Thank you for your thoughtful commentary on abortion. Clearly the self-righteous, conservative, activist Supreme Court stacked by the former disgraced, twice impeached, one term president has led our country down a dangerous and improper path when they reversed 50 years of established women’s rights to choose. History will clearly show this to be a black mark on our country’s history.
What I do not understand is how, in a separate article, you could defend a man who attempted to overthrow our democracy, inspired his followers to attack the capital, has bullied witnesses and was clearly shown to be an ineffective president at almost every turn. From his miserable handling of the pandemic to a complete mishandling of all foreign affairs to his seperations of families at the boarder to his obvious lack of understanding of anything related to the environment, the guy simply had no clue. The only thing he excelled in was holding rallies for his base and over estimating attendance numbers. There is little doubt that historians fifty years from now will rate Trump as the worst president in our history by a wide margin.
Your article was masterful in it’s misdirection. I had to read it several times before I came to understand that you actually support this guy. I always assumed that Trump’s base was generally ignorant, uneducated and unsophisiticated. You seem not to fit the mold. I would simply urge you to keep an open mind, not worry about being brainwashed but be open to the facts as they are revealed. Your guy is truly dangerous and we need people like you to read the obvious signs and prevent him from being in a position to destroy our democracy. Clearly the former President tried to do just that and given another chance, he may succeed.