When There Is No Other 'Choice'

Aaron Gouveia is a Cape Cod-based blogger, whose blog DaddyFiles became well-known last week after he posted a video of himself confronting the abortion protesters outside the clinic where his wife had her pregnancy terminated following the diagnosis of a devastating fetal defect that was ultimately not compatible with life.

No doubt, Gouveia, already a father of one 2-year-old boy, has been through a lot these past few weeks. At 16 weeks he and his wife found out that their baby had Sirenomelia (aka Mermaid Syndrome), which means the fetus's legs were fused together. He/She was also missing key vital organs. They had two choices: abort or carry to delivery and deliver a stillborn.

They chose the former and on the way to the procedure, they were confronted by angry protesters, accusing the already fragile couple of murder, among other things. After she went into the clinic, he decided to confront them.


The video shows mainly the protesters, but we hear Gouveia's voice and the devastation and the anger and the lack of control he has over the situation. For me, it was powerful. In his blog, he says he wishes it could have been him in the operating room. But it had to be her. So he defended her in the only way he could.

His blog is heartbreaking. It shows a side of the abortion debate that is not often viewed -- the one where it's really the only humane choice. Gouveia says:

"I saw this kid’s hands. The complexities of the spine. The beating heart. This baby wasn’t just an amorphous blob or a speck on a grainy black and white ultrasound picture. It was formed with a head, a body, legs, femurs. We’re just about at 15 weeks and this is a goddamn little person who is dying inside my wife. And a piece of me has died with him/her."

In another post, his wife has this to say:

Back to yesterday, there was nothing worse in the world as the protesters telling me that I am killing my unborn baby. REALLY?!?! Are you sure its [sic] me killing my unborn baby and not an ultra rare birth defect?? Then the signs saying “God is Pro-Life.” Seriously, if he is pro life then why am I carrying a child that is dying inside me? Or my personal favorite, which was “Take my hand, not my life.” I would love to. But instead I have to sit in a chair staring at these assholes telling me how I should feel and what I should be thinking.

I wrote a post about abortion last week in which I admitted that many of the people I know struggled with the emotions and the guilt from it. I also heard last week of a very close friend who had an abortion after finding out she was 20 weeks pregnant. The decision was gut-wrenching, especially after she saw the beating heart and the limbs on the ultrasound. But she made the choice because it was the right one for her. And it isn't my place to judge.

Abortion isn't a black and white issue and no amount of pretending otherwise will make it be so. And just because for many it's the right choice, that doesn't make it easier or make it less difficult. If abortion was easy for you, fine. But if not? You ought to be able to say that without being accused of having a political agenda.

Life is complex and very few things are truly black and white, but in my opinion, it's within the complexity, in those shades of gray where the real beauty lies. I'm sorry that this couple who clearly loves and mourns the loss of their pregnancy was forced to listen to such anger and vitriol. I hope, on some level, that those protesters learned a bit about judgment and how it's most often the times when we're rushing to them when we're the most wrong.

What do you think of this distressing dilemma?



Image via taberandrew/Flickr

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