Book Review by Mary Ann Kreitzer
It’s a parent’s worst nightmare — hearing the words, “You have a very sick child.” For a dad, it’s particularly difficult because his job, besides providing materially for his family, is to protect his loved ones from harm. But when illness strikes a child, a dad often stands helpless to “fix it.” Decisions about dealing with a critical illness in an already born child are difficult enough, but when that illness occurs in utero, parents are faced with another issue. The question is inevitable – “Will you keep it?” Since Roe v. Wade made abortion-on-demand legal in all 50 states at any time during pregnancy, vulnerable families faced with a sick little one are often given the bad news and immediately invited to consider abortion. How will they respond to the challenge? Anthony Horvath, in his book “We Chose Life: Why You Should Too,” shares his story, his faith, and the reasons he believes others should “choose life” as he and his wife did. Those who find themselves in similar circumstances with a seriously ill unborn child would do well to put their panic on hold and read his story.
In December 2006, after two normal pregnancies that filled their home with three boys including a set of twins, the Horvath’s were thrilled to learn during a routine ultrasound that they were expecting a little girl. Then the shoe dropped. The ultrasound showed something else. “The doctor came in. She wasn’t smiling. Her expression was grim … she went right to the point. Our new baby girl had a lot of fluid in her skull, a condition called hydrocephalus. The doctor told us that it could be just hydrocephalus, or, worst case scenario, it could mean that she had spina bifida (SB)” [spina bifida is a general term for a group of a neural tube defects where a segment of the spinal column fails to close resulting in a buildup of fluid in the brain.]
A second ultrasound showed that the baby had the most severe form of the disease, myelomenigocele spina bifida. While there was no way to know the severity of the outcome, the baby could end up mentally and physically handicapped, catheterized, and permanently unable to walk – or not. “Here was the brutal reality,” Horvath says, “There was no way of knowing the future.”
Like other families faced with similar bad news, the Horvath’s went into mourning. “I descended into the depths of self-pity,” Horvath says, “I had thoughts, some of which I will not dare to share here. … Together my wife and I entered the grieving process although no one had actually died. But that isn’t really true. Someone did die.” He goes on to describe all the normal events of childhood and laments, “We mourned the daughter we would not have.”