Strict anti-abortion laws in the US 'forced a woman to give birth to baby without skull', doctor claims

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In May, the state of Alabama passed one of the most restrictive abortion laws that the United States has seen in recent years, with a plethora of other states following suit.

The laws prohibit abortion after a 'fetal heartbeat' can be detected, with the Alabama law banning abortions in almost all cases, with no exceptions for rape or incest, reports the BBC.

In Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana, similar laws have since been passed, prohibiting abortion over six weeks, reports Amnesty International.

In light of these Draconian laws, a doctor has shared a harrowing first-person essay titled 'The Myth of Choice', recounting how due to these laws, one young woman was forced to give birth to a baby without a skull and brain.

Known as anencephaly, the fatal birth defect occurs in 1,206 pregnancies a year in the United States, and at this severity, when a baby is born only with only a brain stem, there are absolutely no survivors, reports the Business Insider.

In the heartbreaking essay, published June 4 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the doctor said:

A woman meets a man, starts a relationship, wants a family. She comes to your hospital so pregnant that her belly is huge. She hasn't come before because she has no car. Her man works long days, paid cash for his labor. Turns out the baby has no brain, no skull. Only a stem. This condition has no survivors. None.

You wait for the patient to break the silence. The baby's heartbeat trots through the monitors while you softly hold her gaze. Her eyes plead with you. End it. You talk to the obstetricians, because eventually it will end. But nobody will do it. Not in this state. Not in this hospital. And so, the mother goes home, pregnant and grieving.

Gently, the baby dies. He is warm, whole, and not alone. There are no doughnuts at the nurses' station that night as this young mother is wheeled to a room in the back corner of labor and delivery, away from the other mothers and their pink, crying babies.

She will walk out of the hospital with breasts swollen and weeping for her dead child. Her hips loose and large will force her pants to tug. She will struggle with her gait for weeks, punctuating loss in the waddle of each step, until, gradually, she retires her maternity pants and her steps become firm, upright, and forward.

You've done this before, cared for women whose wishes were warped by politics. You've commanded millions of health care dollars on behalf of infants born with fatal diagnoses. You've seen these infants cut, lanced, and battered in the name of intensive care. Do everything. Because who does not want to save her child? Sometimes all we can control is our grief.

The middle-of-the-night pangs for a world where motherhood means potty training and muddy cleats. Sometimes the idea of choice is just a lie. And sometimes all you can provide is compassion. Dignity in grief is the gift. You've enabled false hopes, not for cures but for time to bond, hope, and heal. It is the parents you are healing. The hopes false. All these children died in the end.

Read the entire essay on the Annals of Internal Medicine.


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