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April 15, 2007

Real Life: Why I Chose Abortion

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Maureen Britell used to stand outside a Planned Parenthood in Maryland shouting Hail Marys. A devout Irish Catholic, Britell was raised to believe "abortions were for bad girls who couldn't keep their legs closed," she says. Her husband, a major in the Air Force, flew F-15s for a living. Then, when she was five-months pregnant with her second child, Britell found out their baby girl had anencephaly-no brain or any chance of life.

"Could we have continued the pregnancy? I guess, but we'd have been on a death watch," Britell says today. Because they were Catholics, the Britells decided to have a labor induction instead of a surgical abortion so that they could baptize and bury their daughter whole. But, after 13 hours of labor, the baby came out breech, stuck in the birth canal with a too-short umbilical cord. Halfway delivered, the doctors had no choice but to cut the cord, an "overt act" that killed the baby while partially delivered. In other words: a partial-birth abortion.

As if the heartbreak weren't enough, CHAMPUS, the government-funded health insurance for military families, refused to pay Britell's $8000 hospital bill, as it does not cover abortion unless the woman's life is in jeopardy. In the middle of the financial battle, the Britells went to church on Mother's Day, which was also the occasion of their 6-year-old daughter's First Communion. After the service, Britell was confronted by dozens of chanting protesters from the National Right to Life. Her pastor-who knew about her baby girl-had sold her out.


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