Decisions Congress shouldn’t make

English: View of Capitol Hill from the U.S. Su...
English: View of Capitol Hill from the U.S. Supreme Court Česky: Pohled na Kapitol z budovy Nejvyššího soudu Spojených států (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A recent New York Times op ed piece by Judy Nicastro tells the wrenching story of an abortion she had at 23 weeks.

The decision — which involved aborting a fetus that would have faced only suffering if it survived — was made after agonizing weeks. It was informed by sonograms, an M.R.I., tests, studies and extensive discussions between Nicastro, her husband and many medical professionals.

The decision to tell her story was prompted by the House vote on June 18 to ban abortion after 22 weeks. No one among those who voted for the bill (which is not expected to pass the Senate) has experienced anything like the agonizing struggle Nicastro and her husband went through, or even just a troubled pregnancy — most of the votes were cast by men, after all.

The decision was anguished, soul-searching, unique — and above all, private.

Which raises the question:

Should a decision about an unintended or unadvised pregnancy be made by the woman involved, with advice from medical professionals, after discussion with her partner, in consideration of the unique circumstances that apply?

Or by the U.S. Congress?


  1. Ms Nicastro’s decision may have been justified, but it should be viewed as what it was – a mercy killing carried out under the procedure known as late-term abortion. One of the criteria to justify mercy-killing is that its purpose must be to benefit the person to die, a high bar indeed. If there is less suffering for the survivors as a result, that is an acceptable by-product, but can not be the motivation.

    1. That’s a thoughtful and certainly valid comment, babu, though some of us don’t think of a pre-viable fetus as a person. But in this case the parents were motivated not by a wish for less suffering for themselves, but by their belief that prevention of extreme suffering for the fetus was the moral choice. I don’t know them and am not privy to any of the details of the case beyond news reports. My comments are based on my own belief that these circumstances, and decisions, are always complex and uniquely personal, just as your belief in when life begins is — though different from mine — complex and honorable. Thanks for your time and thoughts.

      1. Thank you for considering my thoughts, as I have yours. It’s interesting to see Ms, Nicastro refer to her non-viable fetus as her “son” and “boy.” I can only imagine that, from the moment she learns she is pregnant, every mother knows to a moral certainy she is carrying human life. This has nothing to do with religious belief, it is in her dna. If this was not so, why the personal anguish associated with abortion?

      2. Those are more good thoughts, which should be part of the reasoned and mutually respectful discussion we so need to be having. Two stories in response: My 1956 abortion, at about 6 or 8 weeks, in NO way to me involved anything more than a blob of cells representative of an intensely abusive and painful incident. Once over, I gave it no thought until I began to talk 50+ years later. After I married and subsequently delivered three healthy babies (for which I thank my crude but apparently skilled abortionist) I became unintentionally pregnant with a fetus I miscarried (nature’s way of aborting a baby that should not be) at about 5 months. Decidedly unplanned and initially unwanted, that pregnancy occurred within a loving family and I was surprised at the degree of mourning I experienced and the attachment I had developed for the lost fetus. In my book I also recount the story of a good friend, who tried desperately and unsuccessfully to abort an unwanted fetus in the 1960s. Of the experience she now says, “Make no mistake, she was an ‘It’ until the moment of birth, and I have loved her every day of her life.” The daughter also recounts her own story, including the line “I’m proud of my mom for trying to abort me.” (They both feel everyone would have been better off had the mom been able to delay motherhood for 5 or 10 years.) So, is there an automatic bonding gene in our DNA? I’m not sure. I’m only sure that no abortion is casual or painless, and that planned and wanted children are better off. I wish we could focus on ways to reduce abortion while still protecting women and improving the lives of children everywhere. I value your input and honor your views.

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