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Hear Julie's story >>

My name is Julie Bindeman and I’m a life-long resident of Montgomery County where I’ve lived with my husband of twelve years and our three children. This is my story. Fetal anomalies do not discriminate and they can happen to anyone. They don’t care about your marital status, your age, where you live, what your religious beliefs are or what your views on abortion are. I am blessed to have three healthy children.

However, like many, my path to parenthood was NOT easy. In fact it was exceptionally difficult and at times, heart breaking.  After initial success with a son, my husband and I were pregnant THREE times before I gave birth to our next child, my beautiful daughter. A total of four pregnancies within the span of only 2.5 years.

My first pregnancy after giving birth to my oldest son resulted in an early miscarriage. My husband and I were devastated. After taking time to grieve, we tried again. Thankfully, I became pregnant again quickly. However, the beginning of my pregnancy didn’t go as well as we had hoped. I suffered from terrible blood clotting and even thought I miscarried--for a consecutive time. After several weeks of physician monitoring and bed rest, I was reassured that my baby was fine. All of my first and second trimester tests came back negative--my baby looked healthy! I was thrilled beyond words and even started telling friends and family once the first trimester was past. My due date was in April 2010.

We went for our 20-week ultrasound. We were looking forward to learn the gender of our baby to be. We met with our OB who subsequently told us that the ultrasound showed our child’s brain ventricles were nearly twice the size they should be. Double. My husband and I sat in stunned silence and we slowly began to cry, deep sobs of pain. We then met with several specialists to get second and third opinions. Each specialist confirmed the horrible news--our best-case scenario, if the baby even survived to term, was that our son would have the developmental ability of a 2-month-old. One specialist talked about special chairs we could order for him as he grew and the numerous brain surgeries that he would have to undergo, beginning right after birth. We were told our two options: we could terminate the pregnancy or carry the baby to term and see what happened. I asked point blank about the chances of a miracle: they had no optimistic outcome to share with us.

After I chose to terminate the pregnancy, I was given yet another decision, this time on the method of termination. I decided to deliver locally as the surgical option was not available in the state, even though it actually is a legal option in Maryland. My husband and I went to the hospital and worked with the medical team to induce labor. My son died soon after delivery and I was discharged the next day. I was 21 weeks gestation. Things felt so surreal. My body acted as though I had a baby--though my heart and mind knew better. I cried for days on end.

Five months later I became pregnant again and I was terrified. At 17-weeks I was back at Children’s Hospital, hoping for a miracle. I learned that in addition to the two brain defects our last baby suffered from, this baby was diagnosed with a condition that affected the band of neurons that connected the hemispheres of the brain. Outcomes for individuals that only have partial neural connections are poor, especially when other brain anomalies are present. We were told that the first baby also shared each of these anomalies, but that the team didn’t want to overwhelm us with additional information at the time. My husband and I faced another agonizing decision that we wouldn’t wish this on anyone; once, let alone twice.

On August 13, 2010, we decided  that we felt the best course of action we needed to take was to again terminate the pregnancy. The second loss was its own grief experience compounded with the other two. I felt hopeless. It has been over five years since my first termination.

I am back to being myself: optimistic and eager to share our lives with another child. I was able to fulfill this dream in July of 2011, when I gave birth to my daughter, my second living child, who is wonderful in every way. In June of 2013, we completed our family when a second little boy joined us.

The proposed laws to ban abortion both in Maryland and federally would have prohibited me from terminating my pregnancy as I was 21 weeks gestation and I did not fall under the pregnancy being a threat to my physical health. This anomaly cannot be tested for, and only given the knowledge from the first pregnancies; we then learned that we had earlier monitoring options available. Decisions regarding pregnancy and reproduction should be made between a woman and her doctor. No one--especially the government--should interfere, as it truly is a family decision.

These proposed regulations are an affront to me and ALL the women like me who are faced with exceptionally challenging situations in highly abnormal circumstances. Maryland law should remain as it is—trusting women to do the right things for themselves and their families.

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