What Happened When an Anti-Choice Catholic Woman Needed an Abortion at Dr. Tiller's Clinic
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At the home of Gail and Robert Anderson, a large statue of the Virgin Mary sits in the yard, welcoming guests into the home while protecting the family that lives there. Next to the statue of Mary, inside a labyrinth of daisies, daffodils, tulips and roses is a stone engraved with the word grace. For the Andersons' grace is not just a word or a concept taught through their strong Catholic faith, but the name of the daughter their hopes and dreams hung onto. It is the name of the daughter they said goodbye to in the Kansas office of a man named Dr. George Tiller.
Both coming from large families with faith deeply rooted in the Catholic Church, the Andersons looked forward to starting their own family with great anticipation, eagerly awaiting pregnancy test results each month in hopes that they would discover they were to become parents. The April morning that their hopes were realized is described by Robert as being one of the best days of his life. After breakfast, they went to the local bookstore together to purchase books on pregnancy, for him and for her, and celebrated by inviting their parents to dinner, sharing their news between the gumbo and the dessert.
"We were the first of our families to marry and were the first in our families to have children. With our parents around the table, we celebrated a generation being added - being first-time parents and first-time grandparents. It was a moment of love, hope and joy," Gail says, thinking back to the day that was to change their lives forever, not knowing exactly how much would change.
Their world was now filled with routine doctor visits, baby name books and trying to decide what color to paint the nursery. With no complications known to them, the Andersons enjoyed their last moments together as husband and wife before they would also become mother and father.
It was during a routine ultrasound, Gail's first, when concern was raised over the development of the child. Told by their doctors that there was no cause for alarm, the Andersons were referred to specialists who referred them to another set of specialists. Finally, at 27 weeks, a doctor out of Baton Rogue gave them the honesty they had needed, informing them with regret that cystic masses were covering the child's left lung, forcing pressure on a heart that had not fully developed.
Gail would be forced to deliver her child through c-section, as the stress of a traditional birth would be too much for their baby's body to handle. Their baby would need to be on life-support machines for months until able to have the surgeries required that could repair the damage of the child's suffocated heart and remove the masses from the undeveloped lung. As painful was it was for the Andersons to hear that this child they wanted so badly might not live even after the surgeries intended to repair damage, they were forced to make a decision that not only challenged their personal strength, but where they fit into their Catholic faith.
After a frank discussion with their specialist, they decided that not only did the quality of life of their unborn child need to be questioned, but the life expectancy even if surgeries were successful. There were no guarantees and one day, one month or one year could be added to the life of their child, but not much more than that. After discussing every option available to them, the decision to visit Dr. George Tiller's office in Kansas to have a late-term abortion was made. Both Andersons sunk into a depression, feeling as if they were losing both their child and their religion.