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Chelsea Shields Duffy

Sarah’s Story

Below is the second in a series of stories showing the faces of the pain-capable unborn child. There are times when pain-capable unborn babies are diagnosed in the womb with a disability, and parents are pressured to abort. Whether or not an unborn child is diagnosed with a disability, he or she can feel pain, and deserves our protection.

This is Sarah’s story, from her mom:

I could have made a decision that would have robbed me of one of my greatest joys.

Through medical testing during my pregnancy with my daughter Sarah, it was discovered that she was exhibiting signs of either Down’s Syndrome, Turner Syndrome, or perhaps Trisomy 18 or 21. I was told that I had the option to abort my child, and that it would be “understandable considering the conditions.”

This put me in shock, and I said that I definitely would not terminate the pregnancy – I would not abort my precious daughter. My heart was crushed, and I felt hopeless. If it were within my power, I wanted her to live, and be healthy. Regardless, she was my daughter and I loved her, and I had to give her a chance. I was immediately given an appointment for the next morning to see my perinatologist.  

My husband and I went to the appointment the next morning and everyone around us was very solemn. We didn’t feel supported at all. My perinatologist asked my age, and I told him that I was 36.  His response was, “well, no wonder” to my situation and to my daughter’s diagnosis. I felt like I was to blame for my baby’s condition, that this was all my fault, and that I was judged for making these decisions.

The doctor then gave me an ultrasound, and said that my obstetrician was right.  From what he saw, our baby Sarah had some serious complications. She would live with some serious disabilities. Most likely, he figured she would not survive and if she did, then our baby would have serious genetic abnormalities that would shorten her life. We were urged to at least undergo further genetic testing within the next few weeks.

All faces in that room showed sadness, and hopelessness. These were the longest, most painful weeks of darkness I have ever endured.  

I lost all hope, because I was given no hope.  

My husband and I had to go to Froedtert for the additional tests. While waiting at the Children’s Hospital, I saw the doors to a therapy office for Down’s Syndrome patients.  While looking through the doors, which seemed bright and colorful, I thought, “I can do this.” I started to imagine going to appointments there with Sarah, and bringing my other two children along. They would love this place, they would be able to play while in the waiting room and everything would be alright. I was finally accepting what might be lying ahead of us, and I started feeling hope again. 

When we arrived in the office, the geneticist first brought us back to the room of the testing. We were going to have another ultrasound prior to the testing procedure. My husband asked what the chances were that the baby would turn out “normal.” She stated that the chances were less than one percent. That was a very painful answer to hear. She left and then in walked the sonographer. She had to check on where the baby was laying before the procedure began.  

While she was looking at my baby, my husband said, “So…it’s pretty bad, right?”  The sonographer looked confused and said as she was making a measurement of the spine, “not really, I am measuring the baby within the normal range. Was the spine a significant size before?” When we told her what the measurement was a couple weeks back, she was shocked. We asked her if we could talk to the perinatologist, because we knew he was in the building.  

The doctor walked in and did not know what to say. He said, “things looked positive on the ultrasound. I do not usually see this.” He still cautioned us, “do not get your hopes up,” because the test could be wrong, and she could possibly have a heart condition instead. At his request, we did more tests.

“Do not get your hopes up,” was something my husband then repeated to me for the next week as we waited for the results of the tests. Words can’t describe how terribly difficult that was. Someone had to hope for Sarah. I loved her regardless of whatever condition she could have. She deserved some hope.

The geneticist finally called us and read the set of results of the first five chromosomes that were tested. All of them were paired, so she did not have a Trisomy condition. I could not help but rejoice! And, a couple weeks later, we got the call about the remaining chromosomes that could indicate other genetic conditions. They were all paired too!

Then my husband repeated what they doctor said, “Do not get your hopes up.” He reminded me that there may still be heart problems that wouldn’t have shown up in the tests.  

Well, Sarah greeted us for the first time outside of the womb on April 18th, 2008. She was born with jaundice, only because they induced the pregnancy early. Other than that, she was completely healthy! Now at age six, she is reading at a very high level. Her teachers marvel at her. We marvel at her.  

I am reminded over and over again that we could have made a decision that would have robbed me of one of my greatest joys. Sarah is a joy – not because she is healthy, but because she is my daughter. I wish more parents would receive the hope they need to experience the same joy. No matter how brief or how difficult a life can be, there is always joy, where there is love.

I ask the Wisconsin Legislature to help other parents experience the joy of their children, even during difficult pregnancies. I am overjoyed to hear that the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act gives parents the hope they need when they receive a diagnosis of a possibly fatal genetic condition for their child. Information makes such a difference. It gives us hope, and the support I wish I received while carrying Sarah.

Really, no child should ever have to experience the pain of abortion. No matter their condition. Help parents like me, and save unborn children capable of feeling pain just like Sarah.

-Catherine Treutelaar

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Jonah’s Story

Below is the first of a series of stories showing the faces of the pain-capable unborn child. There are times when pain-capable unborn babies are diagnosed in the womb with a disability, and parents are pressured to abort. Whether or not an unborn child is diagnosed with a disability, he or she can feel pain, and deserves our protection.

This is Jonah’s story, from his dad:

One afternoon I was speaking with a doctor that I was calling on while I was working in the pharmaceutical field. The clinic I was in was in one of Milwaukee’s most impoverished communities on the south side. The clinic served a heavily Hispanic population. Many had little education, little English, and sparse resources at best. I was dropping off free samples for an STD medicine I sold.

The doctor asked how I was doing and I took the opportunity to say proudly, “not bad considering I am juggling a new job, a 1 year old at home, and pregnant wife on long-term bed rest due to a complicated pregnancy.” After asking a few casual questions, he very quickly advised my wife and I to “cut our losses”- to abort our unborn child, Jonah – “because it will slow your family down,” he said.

I will never forget those words. I had told him that our perinatologist said for us to “expect a second trimester event,” which would be a miscarriage because of pre-term labor. Then he said that IF our child survived, he would not be a “tax payer,” meaning he would have significant disabilities and therefore would never have gainful employment requiring him to pay taxes.

If that alone wasn’t hard enough for us as parents to process, here I was in front of another doctor giving me very pointed advice on why to seek an abortion. He personally had a brother that was cognitively and physically disabled and, although the family hoped for a miracle, it never happened and it “slowed his parents down.”

At that moment, his next patient came down the same hall where we were talking. She was a Hispanic, teenage mother who could not speak English, pushing a stroller with a child with significant disabilities. The doctor continued his lecture knowing she could not understand him saying, “See, here is an example now,” referring to the disabled child.

I was stunned as he spoke.  I could not believe this doctor could give such one-sided advice, and I could not believe that he was dismissing not only my child’s life, but also the life of the precious but differently-abled child right before him.

Because I have never walked a day in someone else’s shoes I have tried to stay out of the business of telling someone what to do. However, these exchanges with those doctors, and their disregard for both my son’s and that child’s life, convinced me to speak out for him and all other babies who receive a prenatal diagnosis or are living with a disability.

No life is ordinary. Just as each child’s fingerprint formed inside the womb is unique, so is each child’s mark on the world.

Two highly trained medical professionals, with years of practice under their belts, both bet against Jonah either surviving, or being a productive “normal, ordinary” citizen. Their advice was scary, deeply personal, and filled with assumptions on all that “could” go wrong.

Well, their advice was wrong. Jonah survived a full term and an ultimately healthy pregnancy.

When did the doctors I spoke with lose the ability to provide hope?

Last year, Jonah won his chess tournament at his school against students two years older than him. This year he made a select baseball team as the youngest player. Jonah is head and shoulders physically above his peers. He is far from ordinary, he is extraordinary – just like the young Hispanic girl’s physically and mentally impaired child. Both of our children are loved in an extraordinary way, and both deserve a chance at life.

Today, I call on the Wisconsin State Legislature to protect all extraordinary lives with the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Not only does it save babies who feel pain regardless of ability, but it also ensures parents like me receive information on all the resources available in the case of a prenatal diagnosis of disability.

Jonah would not be alive today if I took the limited and unfortunate advice provided to me. I sincerely hope the legislature empowers doctors to ensure parents like me receive all the resources we need to support our extraordinary children – no matter their condition.  I also hope other parents who face a prenatal diagnosis can receive the hope they so desperately need to spare not only themselves, but also their child, from the pain of abortion.

-Jeff Wenzler, Father of Jonah

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New Legislation Is About Protecting the Unborn From Pain

Hiding behind 20 weeks

This blog post originally appeared at RightWisconsin.com

Last Thursday, Senator Mary Lazich and Representatives Jesse Kremer, Joan Ballweg, and Joe Sanfelippo introduced the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Within minutes of the introduction of this bill, all of the major pro-abortion groups and the mainstream media began spouting their usual diatribe against lifesaving legislation that protects vulnerable unborn babies from abortion.
 
The current drumbeat is that this is a mere “20 week abortion ban” and “healthcare” decisions should be left to a woman and her physician. But, that isn’t what this bill is about, not even close.
 
The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act protects an unborn baby who is capable of feeling pain. Why isn’t this a “ban on abortion at 20 weeks”? Well, anyone who took the time to read the bill would quickly understand that this is far more than a simple ban on abortion. First, an unsubstantiated ban on abortion at 20 weeks would be arbitrary and unconstitutional on its face due to the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. What reason would we have for randomly selecting that age? What interest would the state have in that particular age of an unborn child? Instead, this bill presents the opportunity to assert a new, compelling state interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which there is substantial medical evidence that they are capable of feeling pain.
 
The narrative surrounding the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act”, or the “Pain Bill” for short, needs to change to keep the pro-abortion side from hiding their extreme views. Don’t let them duck behind the cover of “20 weeks.” When we talk about the pain of the unborn child, we win. And groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL know that. That is why they insist on avoiding the fact that the most common abortion procedure done on unborn children who can feel pain is a Dilation and Evacuation procedure, which dismembers the child limb-by-limb. That sounds painful. It is painful.
 
It is barbaric that we allow unborn children to expire in such a gruesome and painful way. We have to call Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the mainstream media out – they know that unborn babies can feel pain. Don’t let them hide from the truth.
 
Learn more about this legislation here.

 

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Unashamedly Pro-Abortion, and Underestimating Women

When I saw this article in my news feed, titled “I am pro-abortion, not just pro-choice: 10 reasons why we must support the procedure and choice,” I was torn between feeling disgusted and amused, because seeing the title, I had to smile and think:  “Finally, the pro-abortion side is being honest about what they really are: not ‘pro-choice’, but unashamedly for abortion. Period.”

Granted, it’s now a growing trend among the pro-abortion crowd to shy away from the term “choice” and go on the offensive with their extreme views, since they know they’re losing millennial support for their cause. For some reason, they think that tactic will work on my generation, who are all survivors of the aftermath of Roe v. Wade. Good luck with that.

So, out of curiosity, I clicked the link. And honestly, I could barely get past the first few paragraphs. Why?

From the author herself:

“I’m pro-abortion because being able to delay and limit childbearing is fundamental to female empowerment and equality. A woman who lacks the means to manage her fertility lacks the means to manage her life. Any plans, dreams, aspirations, responsibilities or commitments – no matter how important – have a great big contingency clause built: ‘until or unless I get pregnant, in which case all bets are off.'”

What? When I read this, I took it personally.  This author believes I, as a woman, cannot be equal with a man unless I can deny the powerful bodily function that creates life and makes me unique as a woman from men. I cannot be equal – nor have dreams, aspirations, responsibilities, or commitments – unless I have the capability to kill any children I bear in the womb.

Well, I just don’t buy that.  Yes, pregnancy, parenting, and motherhood is hard. But I find it offensive to believe that once a woman becomes pregnant, her life as she wants it to be ends. That’s assuming that adoption isn’t an option, and even worse, that’s assuming that women aren’t strong enough to take on motherhood and her dreams at the same time. And that’s probably the most anti-feminist attitude I can imagine.

The author then continues, “Think of any professional woman you know. She wouldn’t be in that role if she hadn’t been able to time and limit her childbearing.”

I read this, and thought of my boss, some of my previous co-workers, and many of my friends, who are professional women who nurse their children while answering emails, take their children with them when they lobby legislators, and change diapers in their office while answering the phone. Regardless of whether any of their children were planned or not, it is clear that a professional career is not antagonistic to motherhood for these women.

Why do so many so-called feminists put so much energy promoting abortion, that could instead be put into efforts to make the workplace more motherhood-friendly? It seems like such a waste of time and effort.

The article continued to make many other points that could easily be debunked, and many  rely on a constant denial of the humanity of the unborn child, but that’s the subject of another blog post . (Which, if you want to see one, or have any other questions, email me at cshields@wrtl.org.)

But what I think is most stunning about this article is how terribly it underestimates women. Instead of understanding that women can conquer their dreams and motherhood at the same time, so many “feminists” like this author believe that equality can only be achieved through the death of our children. That is a false and tragic dichotomy. Women deserve better than this attitude, and we deserve so much better than abortion.

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Hillary Clinton: “Champion” of Abortion Without Limits

“Are we ready for Hillary? Nope,” stated Wisconsin Right to Life’s Legislative/PAC Director, Chelsea Shields.  “We’re not ready and never will be ready for any presidential candidate that would promote abortion without limits up to the moment of birth.  And make no mistake, that is the kind of candidate Hillary is – radically pro-abortion.”

Under the guise of wishing to make abortion “safe, legal, and rare,” Clinton has done just the opposite, working with the abortion business like the International Planned Parenthood Federation to spread abortion all around the globe during her tenure as U.S. Secretary of State. As Secretary of State, Clinton also remained tragically silent on the human rights issue of forced abortion in China under its One Child Policy.

And one doesn’t have to look hard to discover that Clinton promoted abortion-on-demand here in the United States as well. Her record going back to the 1990’s shows that at every turn, Clinton sought to reject every possible effort to save the lives of the unborn from abortion. Whether it was her disastrous abortion-expanding healthcare proposal, opposition to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, or cozying up to the extreme pro-abortion group EMILY’s List, Clinton has made it clear that her goal is to “champion” abortion and its industry, at the cost of the most vulnerable Americans, the unborn.

“We need a President who will be a champion for the unborn,” continued Shields, “and Hillary most certainly would not be that champion.”

 

Paid for by Wisconsin Right to Life PAC, Rick Fox, Treasurer. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s agent or committee. The committee is the sole source of this communication and the committee did not act in cooperation or consultation with, and in concert with, or at the request or suggestion of any candidate or any agent or authorized committee of a candidate who is supported or opposed by this communication.

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Call and Thank Sen. Johnson for Not Playing Politics with Victims of Human Trafficking

Recently, extreme pro-abortion group NARAL helped block the passage of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act because its language, which has been public record for more than two months and even received bipartisan support, prohibits taxpayer dollars from paying for abortions. Now that they’ve stalled aid that is so desperately needed by human trafficking victims, NARAL is attacking those who stand by the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.

Please call and thank Senator Ron Johnson at 414-276-7282 for standing by the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, and refusing to play abortion politics with the women and girls who need our help.

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#EndTrafficking…But First, Pay for Abortions

Pro-abortion activists in Washington, DC are now taking to blocking a bill that would help victims of human trafficking, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. Pro-abortion senators, prompted by groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL, are playing politics rather than helping women and young girls. Some of these pro-abortion senators are the very ones who requested in February 2015 a hearing be held on human trafficking.  This bill, once holding bipartisan support, is now stalled in the Senate because Planned Parenthood and NARAL realized it wouldn’t allow taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions.

This is a bill to protect human trafficking victims. But, claiming that language from the Hyde Amendment, language which prohibits taxpayer dollars from paying for abortions, was “snuck in” (even though it was public record for the past two months), Planned Parenthood and NARAL launched a vicious attack against the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. 

These groups are  putting abortion before the needs of women and young girls who so desperately need our help. Holding hostage this bill to aid victims of trafficking only highlights Planned Parenthood and NARAL’s true motives…not to help women, but to promote and profit from abortion. No matter what.

 

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Governor Walker Would Protect Pain-Capable Unborn Children

“Wisconsin Right to Life is very happy to hear that Governor Walker intends to sign a bill that would protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain,” stated Heather Weininger, Executive Director of Wisconsin Right to Life.

“In light of this excellent news, we urge the Wisconsin State Legislature to pass a bill to protect pain-capable unborn children as soon as possible.”

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Doctor-Prescribed Suicide: Devastating, Dangerous

“Recently introduced legislation to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide presents a devastating threat to those who are older or living with disabilities,” stated Chelsea Shields, Legislative Director of Wisconsin Right to Life. “This legislation is dangerous for the most vulnerable in our society, and must not be allowed to overturn Wisconsin’s longstanding and protective law prohibiting assisting a suicide.”

What We See Where Doctor-Prescribed Suicide is Legal:

In Oregon, where doctor-prescribed suicide is legal, we can see the dangers of such a practice. Two cancer patients were told the Oregon Health Plan would not pay for their chemotherapy, but were instead offered lethal drugs to end their lives, even though they did not request them.  Instead of providing treatment, covering inexpensive lethal drugs at $300 became a means to control health care costs.

What Could Happen in Wisconsin:

Looking at the proposed legislation here in Wisconsin, an abusive caregiver of someone who is older or living with disabilities  could be a witness to a patient’s request, and an heir can easily recruit the three witnesses required to complete a request for lethal drugs. Since there is no medical supervision for ingestion of the lethal drugs, an heir or abusive caregiver could coerce the patient, pick up the drugs, and even administer them since there are no witnesses required at the death of the patient. This is why those who are older and those who are living with disabilities find themselves to be a vulnerable population which can be victimized by doctor-prescribed suicide through implicit, and even explicit, pressures.

Furthermore, patients could choose death based on a faulty diagnosis. No one knows with certainty that a patient will die within six months, the time frame cited for eligibility for lethal drugs in the proposed legislation. And, a patient can make a request and take lethal drugs without the knowledge or notification of his or her family.

“Wisconsin must stand by its longstanding law protecting those who are older and living with disabilities,” continued Shields. “They deserve better than such a dangerous law.”

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Pro-Life Activism Doesn’t End After the March for Life

Few things are more exhilarating than the March for Life. You get to join more than a half million right-to-lifers in our nation’s capitol, joining in one voice to speak for those who can’t in our society. The experience is amazing, energizing, and inspiring. But it doesn’t end there.

Now that you’ve made your voice heard in D.C., we need you to speak out here in Wisconsin. Unborn babies who are capable of feeling pain are without protection here in the Badger state. They cannot cry out when they are torn limb-by-limb from excruciatingly painful abortions performed around 20 weeks gestation. These unborn children need us to be their voice, right here in Wisconsin, where approximately 100 pain-capable unborn children lose their lives every year. 

We need you to be their voice, both in our state capitol, Madison, and all around the state. How?

  • Join our E-Voice Network to get legislative updates about our bill to protect pain-capable unborn babies. When your action is needed, a simple email or phone call to your representative can make an incredible difference in our efforts to protect the unborn.
  • Get involved with one of our chapters. They are our boots-on-the-ground for the right to life cause around the state, and right in your own neighborhood.
  • If you are a student, find a teen or college group. Show Wisconsin that you are the pro-life generation!
  • Come to our 2015 Legislative Conference. Learn, directly from legislators themselves, how to influence your representatives to stand for life. Find out more about our bill to protect pain-capable unborn babies, and take the opportunity to directly lobby those who represent you in the Capitol to be a voice for the voiceless.

Don’t stop speaking out. Take the spirit of the March for Life to your home – where pain-capable unborn children need you to be their voice.

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