As an abortionist doctor and a mother, Dr. Christine Henneberg described her struggles with justifying her work with her motherhood in an op-ed article for the New York Times.
“How do I continue to do this work?” Henneberg asked, as reported by Life Site News. “The answer is that there is a connection between my work as an abortion doctor and my work as a mother. It’s just not what most people imagine. It’s not a tension or a contradiction to be reconciled. It’s a symbiosis, a harmony.”
Though Henneberg understands the trauma of abortion, she believes someone has to do it. She used compartmentalization and boundaries to push through in her work until she became a mother.
“As a doctor, I can draw a distinction, a boundary, between a fetus and a baby,” she said. “When I became a mother, I learned that there are no boundaries, really. The moment you become a mother, the moment another heartbeat flickers inside of you, all boundaries fall away.”
To justify her work, however, Henneberg relies on a pro-choice argument. “Nevertheless, as mothers, we must all make choices. And we must live with the choices that aren’t ours to make. We can try to compartmentalize. We can try to keep things tidy and acceptable.” She continued by explaining that mothers all have difficult decisions to make for the love of their children.
When Henneberg and her husband started trying to get pregnant, she wrestled with guilt over her work. After three months of unsuccessfully conceiving, the doctor believed she was experiencing “bad karma.”
“At the time, the fact that I would even consider such an idea—as though I deserved some type of punishment for the work I do—should have told me that my boundaries weren’t as neat and tidy as I thought.”
Several instances almost pushed Henneberg to a breaking point. While performing an abortion on a mother who was 17 weeks along, Henneberg, in the second trimester of her own pregnancy, pulled out a child fully intact. “The fetus, which is normally extracted in parts, came through the cervix intact. I dropped it into the metal dish and I saw it move, or thought I did. It was all I could do not to run from the procedure room crying.”
Another was when a protestor pointed out the “paradox the stroller [in the backseat of her car] represented, while calling her a baby killer and telling her to repent.��
“I do not mean it’s an easy job. Of course it’s not,” she said. “There is the protester on the sidewalk. There is the fetus in the dish, the perfect curl of its fingers and toes. Sometimes it reminds me of my daughter. How could it not? But that is precisely the point.”
Photo courtesy: Sai de Silva/Unsplash
Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine. She blogs at mikaelamathews.com.