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Twenty-five years ago, when I was pregnant with my third child, the ultrasound at 18 weeks indicated the head was growing slower then the rest of the body and was oddly shaped.

My OB said I should wait, but being a pediatric dietitian who worked with kids with spina bifida and other congenital defects, I had concerns that this was a problem. I immediately sought out a second opinion at a University hospital and spina bifida was found, but needed confirmation with a higher resolution ultrasound. By now I was 19 weeks pregnant.

On a Friday evening, at 4:00 pm I received a phone call from a prenatal assessment program. They said we will wait if you can get down here by 5:00 pm. The perinatologist was watching the ultrasound and found a spinal lesion plus other associated abnormalities. Since I had years of working kids with this diagnosis I knew what this meant—significant medical complications, years of surgery, years of therapy, years of pain. The prenatal assessment team worked with me that evening to get me scheduled and provide support. Within days I was scheduled for termination with a caring physician and the state actually sent my original OB a letter citing poor care and lack of referral.

For the past 35 years, I have worked with special needs children and I knew what this baby would have gone through. Clearly by devoting my career to these kids, I value them yet I have only gratitude that I was able to terminate the pregnancy.

Everyone should be able to decide if, when, how, and with whom they start or grow a family.

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