haleysEarlier in the week, I posted on the new memoir by Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis and her effort to make abortion a noble act. For me her description was a chilling example of infanticide

Davis, in a copy of the book obtained by the San Antonio Express-News, wrote that her unborn third daughter had an acute brain abnormality. She said doctors told her the syndrome would cause the baby to suffer and likely was incompatible with life.

After getting several medical opinions and feeling the baby they had named Tate Elise “tremble violently, as if someone were applying an electric shock to her” in the womb, she said the decision was clear.

“She was suffering,” Davis wrote.

The unborn baby’s heart was “quieted” by her doctor, and their baby was gone. She was delivered by cesarean section in spring 1997, the memoir says.

Davis wrote that she and her then-husband, Jeff, spent time with Tate the next day and had her baptized. They cried, took photographs and said their good-byes, she wrote, and Tate’s lifeless body was taken away the following day.

It is difficult to read this and not feel your stomach turn at the description of a rather pathetic woman killing her baby then having it baptized and mourning its loss. This is as cold and ruthless an act as I’ve ever heard a politician attribute to themselves.

How should a couple behave when they discover that more likely than not their child will be born with a fatal deformity. Surprisingly, from Good Morning America we have a example:

When you find out you’re pregnant, it’s not unusual for parents to start dreaming of all the places and experiences you want to share with your bundle of joy once they’re born.

Jenna and Dan Haley, of Philadelphia, had to get started on those plans much earlier than expected. At only 13-weeks, their unborn son, Shane, was diagnosed with anencephaly, a birth defect in which babies are born without parts of their brain and skull.

“We learned of his condition on April 10,” Dan, 25, told ABC News. “We were shocked and devastated. It’s definitely not something anyone ever expects to hear. As we learned more about his diagnosis we experienced pretty much every emotion you could imagine.”

Over time, however, the disheartened couple “accepted his condition for what it was, and decided to give Shane all the love we could while we have him with us,” the father said.

The Haley’s learned the life expectancy for infants born with anencephaly is extremely short — generally ranging from mere hours to a few days -— so their time with little Shane would not only be precious, but limited.

“When we found out that Jenna was expecting, we would often talk about all of the places that we wanted to go as a family after Shane was born,” Dan recalled. “After his diagnosis and understanding that almost 100 percent of babies with anencephaly die shortly after birth, we decided to start visiting the places we had wanted to go with him while he was living in his Mother’s womb.”

The couple made a bucket list of significant activities and locations they still wanted to share with Shane, from going to a Phillies game, visiting the Statue of Liberty and Times Square in New York City, to even taking their unborn son to enjoy a famous cheesesteak from Geno’s in Philadelphia, all while Jenna was pregnant.

I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to carry a child you know will be born with only moments to live. But death is as much a part of life as birth and the way to handle the tragedy is to treat the baby as a terminally ill human being, which it is, rather than casting it off with rather less consideration than many be people would give a family pet about to be euthanized.

My colleague Neil Stevens uses this as his sig line on email

If you’re seeing shades of gray, it’s because you’re not looking close enough to see the black and white dots.

It is an apt summary for the abortion debate. We make the debate very complicated because we try very hard to find a way to justify a deeply wrong and gravely immoral act. We make excuses (the baby wasn’t going to live, but rape/incest was involved) but the salient fact remains that abortion is a very simple issue, either a baby is either a human or not. And if it is human our moral and ethical — and ideally our legal — obligation is to default to the defense of life.