Publicizing your abortion is not 'brave' — it's overcompensating
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Last week, amidst the fallout from Donald TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE’s remarks on late-term abortions, the New York Times published an opinion piece entitled “Late-Term Abortion Was the Right Choice for Me.”

Authored by Meredith Isaksen, a poet and English instructor at Berkeley City College, the piece followed a pattern like that of most public abortion confessions.


First, Isaksen opened with a heart-wrenching diagnosis: her baby — a boy named Lev — had only developed half of his heart. To further frame the ultimate solution as unavoidable, Isaksen divulged the exhaustive alternative pathways sought, including various “meetings with pediatric cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and geneticists.”

Unfortunately, as the story always goes, it was all too little, too late.

Seeking to spare Lev the “horribly painful” experience of a treatable post-natal defect (today, infants who receive heart transplants can live beyond their teenage years), and her family the grief of losing a child and brother, Isaksen decided Lev’s life wasn’t worth the cost, and terminated her pregnancy at 22 weeks.


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It all worked out, apparently, because although Isaksen described the experience as “the single most difficult and profound experience” of her life, she is now a “better mother, … wife, daughter and friend” because of it, and ultimately has no regrets about her decision that led to Lev’s death.

In the comments section, in the portion which the Times considers to be the “best … comments from the past week,” Isaksen found ample support, with most commenters exalting the piece as “brave.”

Others praised Isaksen’s choice as good for society, describing it as reinforcing womankind’s “right to choose,” a way to control population growth, and “motherhood in its highest form.” One commenter even said the author’s actions gave Lev life “in a way that mere birth could not.”

I disagree — Isaksen’s justifications notwithstanding, I believe the best way to give people life is to not kill them in the first place. Although Isaksen said her decision to abort arose out of compassion for Lev and her family, her reasons are unconvincing, if not disturbing.

As someone who started his life in the ICU as a premature infant without the ability to breathe, I am thrilled my parents gave me the “chance to live” and chose the incubator over the bio-waste bin.

I am also thrilled the government thought my life worthy enough of protection to prohibit my parents from killing me had they wished to do so. In fact, setting aside my own bias toward being alive, I have never met someone — even someone in truly dire and painful circumstances — who is fine being killed without consent.

To presume, then, that Lev’s inability to consent to his own death should be construed as acquiescence, and to brand that presumption as “compassion,” is appalling.

The so-called “pro-choice” crowd will say it is the interests of the mother which matter more, and thus why she has the authority to kill her own child.

This insufficient response does not justify any abortion, but it especially does not justify late-term abortions. In many late-term abortion cases, the mother is not killing the child because it is inside of her or because she does not want a child in general. Instead, she is killing him because she does not want that individual child.


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This is eugenics in its ugliest form, and it is no different than a restaurant owner, on the basis of his ownership, refusing to serve people due to their immutable characteristics — except, of course, abortion is not about denial of service at a restaurant. It is a matter of life and death.

How can a country that vilifies unjust discrimination at the lunch counter simultaneously celebrate it as the basis to deny the gift of life?

The answer, I believe, has everything to do with why Isaksen chose to abort rather than risk seeing Lev die after birth: It is far easier to be cruel if you have first stripped your victim of his humanity. After all, it may be more bearable to kill your child before you can hear him scream.

I do not envy Isaksen. Although she now claims “without a shadow of a doubt” she made the right decision, the “anguish” she describes, I believe, indicates otherwise.

Reading between the lines, it is evident to me why she wrote the column. Although I can only speculate, I think Isaksen will live like most infanticidal mothers. As each year passes, she will likely take note of every missed birthday, and remember feeling Lev’s “kicks and wiggles.”

She might even wonder what he would have looked like, notice him missing in family pictures, and imagine what life would have been had he lived.

Indeed, I would not be surprised if, on occasion, her grief and longing for forgiveness is so consuming, she grasps for comfort from the readers of one of America’s largest newspapers. But her efforts will be unsatisfying. No matter how many people offer encouraging words or laud her “bravery,” she will never wash away the guilt that comes with knowing her child died by her own hand simply because he was imperfect.

If there is one thing readers should understand about an abortion story authored by an ostensibly unperturbed aborter, it is not that the author is "brave." Instead, it is that shame tastes better when dipped in faux confidence.

Wheatley is a law student and writer at the Antonin Scalia Law School in Arlington, Virginia. Email him at and follow him on Twitter (@TNWheatley).

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.