Friday, August 21, 2009

Leaving more room for faith

"Before I formed you in your mother's womb, I knew you..." Jeremiah 1:5

I have always been aware that a lot of unplanned and unwanted babies were aborted each day. But after a conversation with my doctor, I started to wonder how many wanted babies were terminated every day because the mother's doctor advised them, perhaps unnecessarily, to do so.

When this happened five weeks ago, one of my doctors told me that if I had gone to the government-funded "public" hospital, they wouldn't have given me the option of bed rest and hospital stay, but instead would have "taken my baby" right away. In other words, they would have induced labor immediately and have me deliver a baby that they know would be unable to survive outside the womb. What?!! I got chills down my spine hearing that. Maybe I am naive or just ignorant, but to me that just seems barbaric. Now I know why they do it: there is a chance of infection to the mother and the public run hospitals aren't going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on weekly ultrasounds and a possible extended bed rest hospital if the baby is more likely to die than not (which makes me quite wary of any significant government involvement in health care - but that's another blog for another day!) Anyways, it just broke my heart for those mothers, and for those babies, who aren't given a chance at life. Their little lives aren't deemed "worth a try."

After that conversation with my doctor, I started looking into the frequency in which doctors advise women to terminate their pregnancies, when there may, in fact, be hope after all. I came across hundreds of stories of women who were told to terminate their pregnancies but refused and ended up having healthy babies. For example, there was a study that came a while back out (and I admit I don't know how accurate it is was) but it said that pregnant women who get cancer are told more often than necessary to terminate their pregnancies - citing the very real risk of chemotheraphy and radiation to the baby. But often times the women with cancer who choose to keep their baby go onto have normal pregnancies and healthy children. Just a few weeks ago I saw a mom on the "Today Show" who found out she had cancer shortly after finding out she was pregnant. She was told she had to terminate, but she did her own research and weighed the risks and decided to keep her child. He is now a healthy little boy.

Another example is Pam Tebow, at the time a missionary in the Philippines. Her husband tells the story:

"When I was out in the mountains in Mindanao, back in '86, I was showing a film and preaching that night. I was weeping over the millions of babies being [aborted] in America, and I prayed, 'God, if you give me a son, if you give me Timmy, I'll raise him to be a preacher.'" Not long after, Bob and Pam Tebow conceived their fifth child. It was a very difficult pregnancy. "The placenta was never properly attached, and there was bleeding from the get-go," Bob recalls. "We thought we'd lost him several times." Early in the pregnancy Pam contracted amoebic dysentery, which briefly put her in a coma. Her doctors, fearful that medications they had given her had damaged the fetus, advised her to abort it. She refused, and on Aug. 14, 1987, Pam delivered a healthy if somewhat scrawny Timothy Richard Tebow." (SI Archives)

That baby is now the youngest Heisman Trophy winner in history and another example a mother who was told her baby had little hope, but instead trusted God's plan for her son's life. I wonder what her doctors think now when they see Tim Tebow throw a winning touchdown.

In our particular case, I know the odds of our baby surviving are low- about 10% according to one doctor. But while that number is small it is still something! I have read countless stories of women who had my same condition and yet delivered healthy babies - all of whom were told to terminate their pregnancies. Again, it is just a fraction of the cases but for me it is enough hope to keep me going. I mean, how often are doctors wrong about predicting life and death? As many people know from experience with sick family members only God truly knows the outcome. To me, taking a mothers unborn baby because of the low chances of survival is the same thing as saying to a cancer patient or a someone with a terrible heart condition "we aren't going to pay for life saving treatment because your outlook just isn't good enough." Believe me, if your young toddler was given a 10% chance of surviving wouldn't you still want him to have access to the best treatment and care to help him fall info that small percentage of survival? We would all want this for our loved ones, why not for the unborn?

Now I don't pretend to be an expert on any of these matters and I don't intend to criticize doctors, who I know are trying to look out for their patients' best interest. Nor do I pretend to ignore the obvious fact that miracles do happen, which explains a lot of the unexpected happy outcomes. I am just saying that it is quite disconcerting to hear of all these stories. Maybe more research needs to be done to see if the physicians' guidelines for recommending abortions are on target. Or, do they need to be updated so unnecessary terminations are not performed, cutting short the possibility for that "miracle" to occur and leaving mothers wondering the rest of their lives if things could have turned out differently? One thing that I hope happens is that doctors who recommend abortions also give the mothers all the appropriate information and research about the possibilities, including if there is a chance(however small) for the baby to survive.

Perhaps more doctors should do what one of my doctors said to me, "I make my predictions and my diagnosis as best as I can, but I always try to leave a little room for faith." Amen to that, but I'd say let's leave a lot of room for faith!


  1. Hi Lee,
    I am Mrs. Cearley from my former days as an English teacher at Pulaski Academy. I stumbled upon your blog when reading Mandy (Duncan) Osborne's, since she is a former student. I taught with Phyllis for 8 years, and my brother-in-law, Lee Pengelly, built your parent's house in Brodie Creek. Anyway, I am praying for your family and your pregnancy. I have been blessed by your perspective and faith.

  2. Lee,

    I am praying daily for your health and a miracle for your sweet baby! Once again, please let me know if there's anything I can do to help y'all!!! I know you have the wonderful help of your mom and Justin, but I am always willing to do something!

    Lauren (Daniels) Pardue