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MN GOP bill removes right of families to make medical decisions

by rachel_nygaard on March 8, 2011

Minnesota GOP introduced a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks gestation in the state of Minnesota. The problem with this bill is that in the GOPs quest ‘to protect the unborn’ they will actually cause families undo harm and pain.

In Minnesota, only 0.6% of abortions performed were between 21 and 23 weeks of gestation, no abortions were performed after 23 weeks. These abortions are the result of fetal abnormalities or to save the life of the mother.

Danielle had suffered anhydramnios, a premature rupture of the membranes before a fetus has achieved viability.

Without amniotic fluid around the fetus, the infant would likely be born with contractures, a shortening of muscle tissue that causes an inability to move limbs. Because the skull of the fetus was still soft, the muscles in the mother’s uterus would likely cause deformities to its face and head. It also was unlikely the baby’s lungs would develop beyond the 22-week stage, when Danielle’s water broke.

“Even if we did carry the pregnancy further, and we decided to try heroic measures with ventilation and stuff, she may not even have the anatomy to maintain” life, Danielle said. “You have to have the anatomy to have the ventilator help.”

The couple talked about bed rest, fluid replacement, steroids and any other idea they could imagine to save the pregnancy.

“I’ve said through this ordeal that I don’t want to be a person that doesn’t believe in miracles, but I think that day my hope was gone. I had none left,” Danielle said.

They asked the perinatologist a question no parent wants to ask: At what point do parents who are willing to do anything to save a child turn selfish by putting the child through what seemed to them like torture?

There was no clear-cut answer.

There was less than a 10 percent chance their child would have a heartbeat and be able to breathe on its own. There was an even smaller chance – estimated at 2 percent – that the baby would ultimately be able to perform the most basic functions on its own, such as eating.

Robb and Danielle, left alone in an exam room, held each other and discussed what to do. They just couldn’t see the logic in exhausting painful, expensive medical procedures after being told they had almost no chance to save their baby’s life.

They decided: There are worse things than death.

“So (the perinatologist) came in, and we said we’d just like to put an end to this nightmare and can you help us. She said, no, she can’t,” Danielle said.

The perinatologist said Nebraska’s abortion law, which had been in effect less than two months, would not allow Danielle to terminate her pregnancy because her baby still had a heartbeat and because her own life was not immediately jeopardized.

The couple went home to wait, brokenhearted. They acknowledge they could probably have gone to another state to terminate the pregnancy. Danielle said she felt intense stress and wasn’t strong enough emotionally to deal with an unfamiliar place and doctors she hadn’t met.

Eight days later, Danielle went into contractions, and baby Elizabeth was born to her 15-minute life.

The Minnesota GOP wants to remove the right of a family to make their own medical decisions.  This is wrong and hurts Minnesota women and families.  

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