A guest writer at the Huffington Post detailed her 20-week abortion in an op-ed published Monday titled, "My Abortion At 20 Weeks Taught Me Everything I Needed To Know About Being A Mom."
What are the details?
Amber Harrington, guest writer for the left-leaning publication, revealed that she aborted her unborn son, Azlend, after discovering that he was developing in her womb with a congenital birth defect.
Doctors said that the defect, a diaphragmatic hernia, was a "fatal birth defect" and that her unborn son — who loved kicking up a storm in her belly — had "no chance of survival." Doctors recommended a medical abortion.
Harrington, already a mother of one son, said that she struggled with the decision.
"The only tool I had to guide me with the unthinkable decision that suddenly loomed was the unconditional love I had for my child, as well as my ability to sacrifice my own desires for the well-being of my children," Harrington wrote. "With little experience in making a literally life-altering choice like this for one of my sons, I remembered a concept I had once learned in college."
"I had studied ancient Greek culture, which had many words for different types of love," she explained. "One of these types of love is known as agape. The basis of agape, outside of the common Christian theological context, is unconditional, self-sacrificing love."
Harrington went on to define agape love as being "reserved for relationships where deep love and care for another's well-being exists, often exceeding the needs and desires of oneself" — much like God himself loves us.
Agape love is best described as the love that God has for us that he gave up his only son so that we may live — or, in short, John 3:16.
"[I]t was not until that moment in the doctor's office at five months' pregnant with my second child that I was faced with a decision that would require a life-changing sacrifice for the sake of unconditional love," Harrington wrote, noting that she discovered babies diagnosed with such a defect have an initial survival rate of 50 percent.
"There was a large hole in my son's diaphragm that enabled all the organs that are typically located in his abdomen to grow inside his tiny chest instead," she wrote. "Because of this, his heart was unable to develop properly and his lungs were deformed."
A broken heart
Harrington said that her own heart was broken by the diagnosis.
"Each day that I woke up and felt my son kick inside of my body was torturous ― a form of cruel and unusual punishment. I often prayed that God would take me instead," she wrote. "The extent of the damage inside his body took his chance of survival down to nearly zero and made surgery after birth impossible."
Harrington explained that she was faced with an interminable decision: whether to continue the pregnancy believing that her son would not survive, or end the pregnancy. She explained that she felt a strong emotions ranging from sadness to anger.
"I saw mothers with healthy babies carrying on with their lives and who became frustrated over matters that now seemed so minuscule to me. I wanted to grab each one of them and scream, 'Stop cleaning! Cherish your healthy baby!'" she wrote, and claimed that she researched every available option — including second opinions — before deciding that she would take the medical abortion and end her son's life.
What happened then?
Harrington said that she made the decision out of fear that her son would be welcomed into a "whole new and scary world,
and "perhaps in pain."
"Sadly, I knew I was not mentally capable of enduring four more months of torture," she admitted, and went on to detail her abortion.
"The day I was scheduled to terminate my pregnancy, I was hesitant," she wrote. "The doctor and his assistants struggled to inject a needle which was filled with a chemical that would stop my son's heart from beating."
Despite her instincts "screaming 'Protect your child!'" Harrington allowed the abortion to continue.
Leaving the facility, Harrington said that she didn't expect that her son would continue his joyful kicking inside her womb before the drug began to take effect.
"During these two hours, I spoke to him, sang lullabies and told him all about the big brother he would never know," she wrote. "Desperately, I begged for his forgiveness for the decision that I had made. The last time I felt him squirm in my uterus, I somehow knew that it would be the final time that I ever felt him move, and it was."
Harrington still endured 12 hours of labor and birthed a dead child. He was born on Dec. 16, 2011, and weighed one pound.
During the aftermath, Harrington said that she would often second-guess her decision and cry to her mother.
"[S]he would sob along with me while telling me, 'I wish I could take away all of your pain,'" Harrington wrote. "Hearing her words, I was once again reminded of agape ― that self-sacrificing, unconditional love. It was her words that made me realize that I was like so many mothers. For some, a medical abortion may seem unjust or cruel, but for me, it will always be the epitome of agape."
Harrington added that all these years later, she is still plagued by regrets.
"I was given the opportunity to alleviate my son's pain and take it onto myself, and I did," she wrote. "I will always wonder if Azlend could have found a way to beat the odds if I had not terminated my pregnancy, and I will never know if I made the right decision."
Harrington explained that her decision to abort her son "taught [her] more about a mother's love" than she "would have ever known to be possible."