(LifeSiteNews) — “I watched my child take his first breath, and I held him as he took his last one,” a Florida mother said of her baby boy Milo, who lived 94 minutes outside the womb after being born with no kidneys.
Milo’s mother snuggled him, sang to him, and read him a book before he passed away in her arms after a challenging and emotionally draining pregnancy.
Now, according to CNN, Milo’s mom, Deborah Dorbert, is angry at pro-life Florida lawmakers for preventing her from ending Milo’s life before he had that chance to breathe, to meet his mother, and to hear her voice as she sang to him.
The story is absolutely devastating. At about 24 weeks’ gestation, little Milo was diagnosed with Potter’s syndrome, in which a baby’s kidneys don’t develop. Dorbert was also at risk of preeclampsia, which is sometimes deadly (about 1.5 percent of cases are fatal) and often leads to premature delivery.
I can’t imagine the pain, the fear, and the uncertainty that the Doberts must have felt, and it must have been heartbreaking for them to meet little Milo only to see him pass away so soon.
But at least they got to meet him.
CNN, however, framed Dorbert’s story as a way to attack Florida’s law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks’ gestation in the Sunshine State.
“Her doctors told her it was too late to terminate the pregnancy in Florida, which bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks,” CNN said. That’s not exactly true, by the way. Even CNN admits that Florida’s modest 15-week ban sadly contains an exception for fatal fetal abnormalities, though the outlet said physicians in the state are nervous about how to interpret that standard.
Regardless, the left-wing outlet said the “only options were to go out of state to get an abortion or to carry the baby to full term, and Dorbert and her husband didn’t have the money to travel.”
And so, Milo’s mother carried him to term. The pregnancy was mentally and physically taxing, and she was given just a few moments with little Milo after he was born.
The takeaway from this story could have been an appreciation for the sanctity and beauty of all life, no matter how fleeting.
CNN, however, emphasized that Dorbert “is angry at the politicians whom she blames for forcing them to experience those gut-wrenching 13 weeks.”
CNN’s piece quoted Dr. Jena Miller, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Fetal Therapy, who said even babies who have survived Potter’s syndrome for a time post-birth (only one baby to be diagnosed with Potter’s syndrome is known to have survived to childhood), are “medically complex and have required multiple surgeries.”
“You’re subjecting parents to a very medically complex child, and for some families, they’re happy. They’re OK with doing that,” Miller said. “The family that chooses that, they’re all in for that. But it’s their choice to make. There are absolutely families that just do not have the resources or the capacity for that journey. They would not choose that journey for themselves or their child.”
But the overarching tragedy is not, as CNN suggests, Florida’s modest abortion restriction, but the mismatch of priorities that makes the “choice” of eugenics in the form of abortion in such “medically complex” cases seem like mercy.
“Conditions like Trisomy 18 or Potter’s syndrome, the diagnosis for the Dorberts’ baby, often mean that a child will not survive birth or will live after birth for only a few minutes, hours, or days,” wrote Students for Life of America’s contributing writer Anna Reynolds in a blog post in March about the Dorberts’ situation. “Processing such shocking news can be difficult.”
“Unfortunately, for too many parents in these difficult circumstances, they are only given one option to ‘fix’ the situation: abortion,” she continued. “People act as though violently ending the life of the preborn child is ‘compassionate.’ Parents are even told it would be ‘cruel’ to lovingly accept a child with complex medical challenges.”
But while abortion is often touted as the solution to the distressing situation, the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute pointed out that “[a]bortion doesn’t resolve cases where a life-limiting condition exists; it destroys one of the patients.”
“Patients [and] their families can [and] should be offered the option of perinatal hospice to support them as we do families [with] an adult member for whom treatment has become futile,” the organization said.
In her article, Reynolds referred to Amy Kuebelbeck, founder of PerinatalHospice.org, who pointed out that “[p]erinatal hospice is not a place” but rather “an extra layer of multidisciplinary support that can easily be incorporated into standard pregnancy and birth care.”
“This support begins at the time of a life-limiting prenatal diagnosis and continues throughout the remainder of the pregnancy and the baby’s birth, life, and death,” she said.
An approach of perinatal hospice rather than abortion emphasizes the humanity of the baby and imitates the way a family would pull out all the stops for a toddler diagnosed with cancer rather than simply signing him up for euthanasia (though a new law advancing in the Netherlands suggests euthanasia for children is rapidly becoming a tragic reality).
“We shouldn’t kill sick babies in the womb for the same reason we shouldn’t kill a 3-year-old diagnosed with terminal cancer,” said Live Action founder Lila Rose on Twitter. “‘Mercy killing’ a human being isn’t mercy and it’s never just.”
That’s a tough principle for our post-Christian society, which sees suffering of the body as the ultimate evil and “doing something, anything,” as a viable reaction to tragedy (the typical response to any school shooting is evidence enough of this).
But sometimes “doing something” isn’t the right move, especially if the only option is something that would cause harm.
For context, let’s contrast the Dorberts’ story with a similar story shared in 2016 with a similar conclusion but a very different emphasis.
Jamie Gauer, a mother of six, found out that her son Josef had Potter’s syndrome at 20 weeks’ gestation. Jamie and her husband were told that Josef would likely die in utero or within hours after birth. Regardless, they chose life. Born at 37 weeks’ gestation, their little boy survived for just three hours outside the womb.
“His life, even though short, has been a blessing to many,” Gauer said in testimony before her state legislature, according to a Facebook post by Planned Parenthood director-turned pro-life advocate Abby Johnson.
“I’m sure some thought I was crazy,” Gauer continued. “Why would someone choose to carry their baby nine months only to have their baby for a few short hours? Easy. He deserved to breathe air. He deserved to meet us. He deserved a fighting chance.”
“I consider it all joy amongst the sadness we had because Josef was loved and respected until the end,” she said.
Little Josef and Milo lived and died under much the same circumstances, but they were surrounded by completely different concepts of human life and its value.
The stark difference shows why pro-life laws banning abortion are good and necessary, but cultural change is vital.
If our culture remains divorced from theologically sound conceptions of the sanctity of life, the eternal soul, and the loving God Who made us, we’ll be convinced by abortive and eugenicist arguments that if death is inevitable, it’s best to get it over with as quickly as possible. It’s an argument that, taken to its final conclusion, suggests that society ought to let the stronger and more desirable live and quickly do away with the weaker, the undesirable, the complicated.
The bloody history of the past century should remind us what’s at the bottom of that slippery slope.