Black And White And Blurry All Over


There it was. The second pink line.


My heart sank.

I stood outside the exam room and took a deep breath. She was thirteen. 

She knew as soon as she saw my face when I entered after knocking softly. She started sobbing uncontrollably. Her mother sat in the corner and looked sea sick. She was holding onto the edge of her chair for dear life, knuckles white, waiting for the world to turn upside down and topple her over.

“You are pregnant.”

Her mother dissolved into angry shouts about her whore of a daughter. 

Not an auspicious beginning at all. Babies should be greeted with joy and love and excitement. My heart hurt.

“I know it seems unfair for me to ask, but have you thought about what you want to do with this pregnancy?”

Her mother spoke up before the patient could, her voice charged with bitterness. “She will have this baby and put it up for adoption. She made her bed, now she has to lie in it. We don’t believe in abortion.”

The girl glanced over at her mother then back at me, helplessness in her eyes. Any discussion about other options was met with a stoney glare from her mother. 

She died during the childbirth.

Should she have had an abortion? I don’t know. It is not my place to decide. 

The world used to be a stark black and white for me before medical school and residency. Everyone is welcome to their own personal opinions about abortion. I respect and will defend your right to believe any way you wish. But before you make decisions for anyone else about their access, I implore you to walk with me for a while in the blurry fringes where the gray resides. 

It is such a polarizing subject and it makes me very nervous to speak up on it but I am bothered by some of the political rhetoric of late. I hear the hate spewing forth from both sides of the fence and wonder if and when love will ever win.


219 thoughts on “Black And White And Blurry All Over

  1. My youngest was 14. I felt sick to my stomach. Had I failed her? She had been my patient since childhood (wasn’t she still a child?). I had talked to her about sex, knew she was active, started her on Depo. Obviously, she didn’t adhere to it. She wanted this pregnancy. When I told her and her family they were elated! Her 18 year old BF spitting into his dip cup smiled broadly and I could see the tobacco stuck between his teeth. If only he realized how lucky he was not to be arrested right now…

    Liked by 6 people

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  3. Tough subject. There often are no easy answers and more questions, really. As a mother of daughters, I have faced these questions personally (although not in that age bracket). And I’m currently raising a result of one of those births. Thanks for sensitively sharing another side we often do not see.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Reblogged this on abstract relations vi and commented:
    Everything is so entangled… so grey…
    What is grace and forgiveness and love in a situation like this? Situational morality? Like political issues and racial divides, not everything is red or blue, black or white. Really, nothing seems to be that way actually…


  5. Such a sensitive subject that needs to be met with compassion and understanding. As a medical student I have watched as medical professionals make unforgiving remarks about the anaesthetised patient as a surgical termination is taking place. It has really opened my eyes to just how polarising the subject matter really is… When people at the forefront of health care can’t even stop themselves from injecting their non-medical opinions, it speaks volumes to how huge this issue is in our society. The political rhetoric is equally heart-breaking. The impact that these comments have on the women affected must be enormous and serves no purpose other than to perpetuate the demonisation of women and people who are pro choice. I do hope that the compassionate and understanding comments are given more attention so that love does eventually win.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I have so many thoughts and opinions, but can’t articulate any of them. It’s such a grey zone and no situation is the same for every family. I only wish the mother would have had a discussion with the daughter before talking over her.. But that may because I’m Swedish and the autonomy surrounding healthcare and choices, no matter the age, is deeply ingrained in our culture.

    Even then, many would push for an abortion due to the age, and if deemed unable to take care of the child, it would be taken away. I had a friend who became pregnant at 15-16 and she never regretted having him, despite the social stigma and issues that came with the birth.

    Very interesting read, nonetheless. Thanks for writing it!

    Liked by 3 people

    • There was so much about this situation that is difficult. I wish the girl could have had better opportunity to have a voice, too. Pushing for an abortion is no more right than pushing to have the baby and as you point out, the right answer will be different for different patients. Thank you so much for popping over to read. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Wow – that is really awful. That poor girl, being stuck with such a rigid mother, and no way out. And hopefully the mother feels remorse for enforcing a decision on her daughter that ultimately resulted in her demise, or was she one of those people that chalked her daughter’s death up to God’s will! I am stunned by this story!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. The really sad thing is, the mother punishing the daughter. “She made her bed…now she must lie in it.”

    Never mind what circumstances might have caused the pregnancy, eh? Punish the girl…meantime, the male who “planted the seed” gets a walk…again…and again…and again…

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Well, let’s just pray for her. Yes, she made a mistake by being pregnant at early age so the mother should not feel any guilt because abortion is not good and it will never be. Maybe the reason why the girl died was because of being too young to bear a child.


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  11. I am pro-life. That being said, I am a man, and being incapable to carry the child to term and deliver it myself I believe it is not my place to instruct a woman what to do with her body. I do not think it is the job of anyone to tell another soul what to do with their body. I only hope that my youngest two learn for the examples that have been put in front of them time and again to assist them in making better choices. Children are a blessing and a gift, but so is life, and one should live life before bring life into this world. That is my humble opinion. This post is sad, and I am sure it is something that happens more than most of us know.

    Liked by 2 people

      • I have lived it once as an adult, and twice as a father. Honestly the only thing that got me through it as a father was the wisdom of my wife. She reminded me that we informed on the best course of action in life. We gave the prepare for adulthood while one takes the time to enjoy life prior to having the responsibility for another life. The lessons were not heeded, and the real life examples were not taken into consideration. It was not my failure, but rather a conscious choice made by another. I simply just have to hope for the best and be there when I am needed.

        Liked by 2 people

  12. You’re allowed, as a doctor, to have opinions about this and to express them to patients.
    I don’t understand how a parent has the legal right to force a child – a literal child, someone who was 12 years old last year – to go through a pregnancy. I don’t understand why Child Protective Services should not have been called in to handle this case.
    But I’m sure there’s a lot I don’t know about this whole issue.
    I’m sorry for everyone involved. You too. Don’t be too sad.
    You’re a good person and a good doctor.

    Liked by 2 people

      • I should have known. The bastards.
        I got pregnant when I was in middle school, at 14. It wasn’t really consensual, since I ‘d gotten drunk with some high school kids, then was offered three or four Seconal and passed out. I had the common sense God gives a goose, and had never before had actual intercourse.
        Still, I was treated with actual hostility by medical personnel, as if I were a shady 8th grade proprieter of a house of ill repute. No one ever asked me the circumstances re, what had happened
        Then the clinic told me I wasn’t pregnant, that the tests kept coming back positive because I had a false pregnancy.
        A couple ( I can’r remember) of months later, I almost died of a ruptured fallopian tube. Like, I barely made it.

        I just felt like sharing this here, because it seems to be okay to do in this space. Every once in a while – not often at all! – it still blows my mind that social bias functions so profoundly in every sphere of our culture, even to the extent of blinding 4 or 5 doctors and nurses to the most obvious, and simple saving a kid’s life.

        But I’m not singling out the medical profession! I’m just including it. Or do you think my experience was actually an anomaly?

        Thanks for reading this long post. And feel free to not approve it if you have enough to think about!

        PS Your blog has become a marketable book. Congratulations, Doc.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you for sharing your story! I think the medical profession is filled with flawed human beings who struggle daily with their own biases, just like the rest of the world. Patients like you get caught in the middle. You are lucky you survived that ectopic pregnancy. I am so sorry you had to go through all of that at such a young age. Here’s a ((hug)) for that 14 year old girl.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. For some reason, I stopped getting your blog posts. I’m following again! This post is very personal – and I’m not sure if there is a place where both sides will be comfortable. I remember being passionately in favor of legal abortion when I was a lot younger – growing up when it was illegal with the constant worry of a teenage pregnancy (not me – I was a good Catholic girl!), it seemed so unfair. As I matured (?) and learned about human development, the idea of aborting an entity with a beating heart, limbs etc became abhorrent. I cannot and will not push my beliefs on anyone else, beyond explaining what happens during an abortion if they are interested. My husband, the OBGYN had to learn to do abortions but would not do them in his practice, referring women determined to have one to someone else. Maybe ot being able to have children myself feeds into this?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Please forgive me that I left such a long reply, if you want to you don’t have to read it or even reply. And I apologize in advance for my terrible grammar.

    โ€œShe will have this baby and put it up for adoption. She made her bed, now she has to lie in it. We donโ€™t believe in abortion.โ€
    that line really broke my heart, and especially since the poor girl is dead now.

    A baby having a baby, gosh its tough. I feel like her mother really learned something from all this, the mother must be devastated.
    Even though this is a true story ( I am assuming, I dont know) it was really touching eventhough it was so short, this story was so beautiful, and heartbreaking.
    I like the lesson behind this, and after reading this I realized how important the consent law is, (the one where the 13 year old and above can get an abortion without the parents ever knowing.)

    the line “she made her bed, now she has to lie in it.” not only foreshadows the girls death but it also shows the type of thinking which I believe is flawed. To me it reminded me of the type of thinking that goes like this during a sexual assault trial: “well what were you wearing.” It is a very cruel type of thinking to me. Sort of draconian.

    Even though the mother was the one holding her knuckles white I could imagine the daughter feeling the same thing of how her world was going to turn upside down, and how her mother would kill her literally. I could imagine the shame and pure dread that the daughter might have when through. (as a teenager I sympathize with the daughter more than with the mother)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. That is so sad. My best childhood friend was taken to the doctor and practically strapped in to have an abortion at 17. It was extremely traumatic. I get it, they’re still children, but anytime anyone is forced to do something they don’t want with their own bodies (abortion or adoption) something is wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This was devastating and heart wrenching–so, so sad that this mother could not see past her own anger and let her daughter die in childbirth. You are right. There is too much anger, hate and raw emotions surrounding this issue, and far too little compassion and understanding. I hope it changes soon, but abortion is such a politically and religiously charged, and I doubt change will be coming for a very long time.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Such a sad ending of two precious lives.
    I started talking to my three (2 boys and a girl) at around 10 years old. I started by explaining how much life changes when we bring a child into this world. All the cost involved, the every 2 to 3 hour feedings, that it is a 24 hour job. I reminded them how I had to stay up some time for days when they were ill, all the trips to the doctor for immunizations, etc,. I then would ask them if they think they could handle a situation like that and love that child enough to give up their friends, school, dating, sports etc. I also told them that love was a beautiful thing when the time is right, and to choose their life partners carefully because forever is a long time. I asked them to think about the conversation long and hard. If they had any questions we would sit and answer them and that we were so proud of them that we knew they would take this subject seriously because human life is a gift not a toy to play house with. They did come to us with questions later as they got older and their bodies started changing. We always discussed anything they wanted to talk about. All three are married now with families of their own. They are all wonderful parents with beautiful happy children. I guess they listened and for that I am grateful. We made no threats just pointed out the choices and consequences for each decision. We were lucky.:o) That poor child and her child and this might sound harsh, but, shame on her mother. I am sure she regrets it and will forever. You have a tough job, but it is not in your control, all you can do is try. Good job Doctor.

    Liked by 1 person

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