The most moving thing you’ll read today is an open letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy from a former congressional reporter. Meredith Shiner’s message to McCarthy is this: “drop your advocacy of the ‘Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,’ and to defend the incredible medical professionals who support women like me and families like ours on their most difficult days—the medical professionals who would be criminalized by the legislation you support.”
Shiner’s most difficult day was when she went into labor at 22 weeks and six days pregnant, one day before most hospitals will even try to aggressively intervene to prolong the life of a premature baby. That’s because the statistics are so dire. At that point in pregnancy, “zero babies born ever leave the hospital without major morbidity, and 94 percent of babies die within 120 days of birth.” Shiner’s doctors, though, did offer her and her husband the choice of aggressive intervention—the only choice, she writes, that she would ever get to make for her first child.
”We chose to give him a life of peace, knowing it would be fleeting. We opted for palliative care of our child, meaning that our medical team would focus on keeping him comfortable for the hours he was with us. We chose not to commit our son to an indefinite lifetime of suffering.” Instead, they spent the limited time they had just doing the things that new parents do: “we held him, touched him, and looked at him until he gently passed away.”
The doctors and nurses who gave Shiner and her husband that choice could be criminalized by Republican anti-abortion bills, and that’s the reason for her letter to McCarthy. “Through this legislation,” she writes, “you are trying to imprison the doctors and nurses who guided us through delivery and post-delivery care, who cried with us and who helped us create meaning of a senseless tragedy by honoring the life of our child, creating a memory box for us to keep and open if and when we are ready.” And yes, she was a congressional reporter, she knows it’s a messaging bill, but “what I need you to know is that I am not a player in a hypothetical game. I am a real person with a broken heart, a loving but devastated family, and a desire to make the world a kinder, less hostile place for families in their darkest hours.”
And yes, she was a congressional reporter so she probably knows that that plea will fall on deaf ears among congressional Republicans. But read the whole thing and be extra firm in your convictions next time someone starts spouting Republican talking points on this issue.