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I terminated my pregnancy – and this is why I’ve stayed silent about the New York abortion bill

Like everyone else across the country, I have watched the drama unfold and the debates rage since New York State announced its Reproductive Health Act last month.

I’ve seen stories of those who have had to endure the life-changing decision of terminating a wanted pregnancy. Although I applaud their willingness to share, I don’t need to read them, because I know the story well.

Last week marks six years since my husband and I said goodbye to our daughter, our first child who was deeply loved and wanted. Because of chromosomal abnormalities that left her with several organ deficiencies, including missing a piece of her heart, we were told that should she survive birth, her quality of life would be extremely poor. Not wanting her to suffer, we terminated at just past 20 weeks into my pregnancy.

I’ve spent the time since telling my story over and over again, hoping to help those who, like me, felt alone. It seems logical then to share my opinion about it (and incase it isn’t clear, I wholly support this type of legislation) and to add my voice to all of the others.

But this is the first time I’m sharing publicly on this topic, and the reason I haven’t jumped into the discussion is simple:

It hurts.

It hurts to think about the child I lost. It hurts to think about the decision we made, not because I regret it (I don’t) but because it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

It’s been a surreal experience watching this unfold, watching people argue back and forth most of whom have no experience with a late-term loss. Part of me wants to jump into the middle of it and just scream.

A big part of me, though, just wants to retreat.

I started writing this post last week and then stopped. I couldn’t finish it because I couldn’t manage to form my rambling thoughts into something cohesive. I’ve been thinking about it for days, trying to figure out what exactly I want to say and to make sense of the snippets of notes I’ve jotted down.

In thinking about this for the last week and a half, I’ve alternated between sadness and anger. Sad that reproductive rights are even a debate. Angry that people feel they can judge others’ decisions. And then I realized that the greatest problem I have with any of this might be the attempt to strip away the emotion and treat a termination as a black and white decision.

A word I’ve seen used a lot in these discussions is choice. But let’s be real: no one – I repeat, no one – chooses to be in a position where they must decide if their child lives or dies.

I was in such a state of grief and shock that my memories of those few months before and after my loss are a blur. I not only lost a child, but I also lost my faith. I almost lost my marriage. I lost any sense of fairness. I certainly lost hope.

No one chooses these things.

At that point, it’s not about choice – it’s about survival. And sometimes, even years later, it still is. In those moments, it’s sometimes just best to take a big step back from the commotion, clear your head, and be at peace.

Category : Karen , Staff/Board Members

About Author

Karen Kelly

Hello! I'm Karen Kelly, co-founder of Through the Heart. My journey started in 2013 when I lost my daughter at 20 weeks into my pregnancy. I experienced 2 more losses along the way and have used this blog as an outlet for a lot of random thoughts and emotions. I hope that you find it helpful. Feel free to reach out at kkelly@throughtheheart.org if I can help in any way!



February 13, 2019 at 3:37 pm

Karen, this is such a brave, powerful, and moving piece. Thank you for sharing and for teasing out the complexity of what it means for folks who have had later term losses to speak out in contentious debates about reproductive rights.

    Karen Kelly

    February 14, 2019 at 10:40 am

    Thank you Meredith! It never ceases to amaze me how hard it can be to find the right words even after all this time of talking about it. I think it just goes to show the complexity and how it is ever evolving.

Barbara Kline

February 13, 2019 at 6:56 pm

GREAT article, Karen. Thank you for sharing ❤️

    Karen Kelly

    February 14, 2019 at 10:41 am

    Thank you Barbara! Your kind words along this journey have always meant so much to me.


February 14, 2019 at 12:58 am

Wonderfully written, a very heart breaking topic but you speak about it so well.

    Karen Kelly

    February 14, 2019 at 10:42 am

    Thank you Amanda! I hate that we have been on this journey for so long together but so glad to have you as a friend.


February 16, 2019 at 11:16 pm

Thank you for your bravery in sharing such a hard truth and experience. Unfortunately, ignorance is bliss to those who blindly judge. This is an easy way to live life and feel blameless when passing judgment on others. These days I cannot have an insightful discussion on any topic because of the lack of education and apathy that many are displaying. It is infuriating when I read posts and comments that reek of stupidity. Sexual and reproductive health remains in bondage. Our bodies are held hostage to the law made by man. Our choice is under attack. Women continue to be told how to live and how to choose and how to feel. Abortion is not black and white. It is not a quick fix. It is not an easy way out. Everyone has a story and every story is important to revealing the painful truth and needs to be told. Our voices will shed light to this reality and force us out the dark.

    Karen Kelly

    February 22, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    Thanks Tracy! I strongly feel that you cannot fully understand the situation unless you have been in it yourself, because even for those of us who have been there, it can be very hard to make sense of it all.

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If you’ve come to this blog, it likely means you have suffered a pregnancy loss of some type. We are so sorry you have found yourself here, but hope the stories of life after loss can help you on your road to healing and recovery. Remember, we are all in this together!

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