For Amanda, the choice of who to select for president was both about the candidates and about another, more painful choice she’d been able to make in her past.
I had the privilege of speaking with Amanda (who asked that her last name not be used), about her choice all those years ago and the one she made in November.
How was your pregnancy going prior to receiving your big news?
My pregnancy with my son was a completely normal pregnancy. He was developing normally, according to my doctor.
And then what happened?
It was the night of May 1, 2002, that this pregnancy took a turn. My water broke, and I was only six months along. I was immediately taken to the hospital, where I remained bedridden for 17 days and given MANY shots to stop labor. None of which were stopping labor from coming, and this baby was going to be born WAY early.
When did you find out about your baby’s condition?
It was May 17, and my doctor wanted to do a sonogram to check my fluid levels since my water had broke, and I had been leaking fluid since the 1st. At first it was a completely normal sonogram, and then my doctor paused for a second and stopped. It was at this point that I was told that my son had Dandy Walker Syndrome. In a normal full-term pregnancy, it wouldn’t have been as tragic of news, but since I was only six and a half months along, this was devastating news.
What is Dandy Walker Syndrome?
Dandy Walker Syndrome is a brain malformation in the cerebellum allowing too much spinal fluid to enter into the brain. There is also a complete absence of part of the brain between the two cerebellar hemispheres. The doctor also informed me that there was likely — which later we found out was true — going to be heart, brain, and lung issues stemming from this.
How did you feel when you received the news?
I remember feeling like the breath and life was taken out of me. I had never heard any more devastating news in my life. I mean, this child was part of me and to tell me he had something wrong just wasn’t OK. I had to be having a nightmare. This can’t be true. My doctor told me that since I had had every shot they could possibly give me to stop labor and it wasn’t happening, that the odds of my child surviving from this was less than 1 percent. Had he been a full-term pregnancy, they could have put in a shunt after birth to stop the fluid from entering into his brain, but being that he was going to be born so early, this was not going to be an option.
What was the first thing you did?
After receiving this news, I was mad…I was angry…I asked the Lord, why me? Why my child? What had I done wrong for this to happen to my son? I cried…I yelled…then I had to stop and weigh the options that were given to me.
Were you shocked to discuss a termination so late?
I was absolutely shocked to think about a late-term abortion! I had always been anti-abortion and why would I even consider ending my child’s life? I mean this was my child, and I was going to love him no matter what was wrong with him. Then the doctor informed me that his chance of survival was less than 1 percent, and if he lived through delivery what time he did live outside the womb would be a life of nothing but pain and suffering. Did I really want my child to go through pain and suffering for what little time he had on this earth? This was when I knew a late-term abortion was the right choice for me. I couldn’t stand the thought of my child suffering and being in so much pain and nothing could be done for him but to let him endure it and pass.
Did anyone know? Was it hard to keep that secret to yourself?
My immediate family and close friends were told and know about the choice I made. Everyone else was told or is told that my son was still-born. I was too ashamed to tell anyone that I had terminated my pregnancy. I was afraid of the judgments that would be made. I was afraid that people with think less of me by the choice that I had made.
So, why talk about it now? And how does this tie into the election?
After 14 years, I have accepted the choice I had to make as the right choice for me and my family. I was already a single parent and knew my daughter needed me to be there for her. With this election has come many stances on abortion. Late-term abortions are wanting to be made illegal. There are situations in which late-term abortions are necessary.
Who were you going to vote for originally? Were there any policies in particular you were in favor of?
Honestly, it wasn’t until I was standing there in front of my ballot that I made my decision on who I was voting for. The entire drive to the voting poll, I was running so many things through my head and trying to figure out who deserved my vote. As I was standing there in front of my ballot, I knew I had to go with my heart and vote for Hillary.
[I thought to myself] How could I have a late-term abortion and then vote for someone who wants to make it illegal? I feel that would have been very hypocritical of me. I was one of those who had chosen to have a late-term abortion. What would I have done had I not been given the option? My heart told me that I couldn’t possibly vote for someone who could take the right that I was given away from someone else who might have to make the same decision for themselves.
How has this experience changed you?
Before my late-term abortion, I was pro-life all the way. Now, I am pro-choice. I believe it should be a woman’s choice on what she wants to do with her body. There are situations in which abortions should 100 percent be allowed…such as rape, incest, medical purposes.
What would you like to say to other women who have been in your shoes?
I would tell other women in my shoes to stand strong about the decision you made. You made the decision that was right for you at that time. To be brave and stand up and fight for other women who might need to make the same decision we had to make. The time may come and the decision might be made for them. We have to stand together and fight for others who may be in our shoes one day.
You are so strong to share your experience. I’m grateful for your time.