Last month, I left the warmth of our Tampa Bay weather for the icy cold of Washington, D.C. As a native Floridian, I endured eight hours in 15-degree weather with one goal: to distribute thousands of signs bearing the phrase “Love them Both.” I was there to March for Life alongside tens of thousands of Americans who support life for preborn babies.
As a member of Live Action — a human rights organization focused on ending abortion — we not only marched for babies but for mothers. To build a culture of life in our communities, we must love both the mother and her child by providing life-affirming support services while pregnant, after birth and throughout their lives.
When I returned, I read columns speaking out against Florida’s proposed 15-week abortion ban (HB 5/SB 146), which currently sits with the Senate. The essays described patients who chose later-term abortions. But did these women know of all their options? The citizens of Tampa Bay care deeply about our women and children — preborn or born — and we are home to life-affirming organizations that provide alternatives to abortion.
Consider the sad, yet compelling scenarios that were discussed. One woman and her husband were thrilled to be pregnant, yet upon hearing the diagnosis of a “non-fatal, but serious fetal abnormality” decided to end their child’s life with a second-trimester abortion. As a society that increasingly recognizes the importance of inclusion, we must acknowledge that choosing death for a child solely on the grounds of a disability is abhorrent. As a mother of three, I can’t imagine the sadness and fear that this woman experienced, but we have local services available to help.
Perinatal Comfort Care of Tampa provides a nurturing place for families as they navigate the path following a fatal or grave prenatal diagnosis. They offer guidance, education and compassionate support to honor the life of the baby while seeking to relieve the family’s emotional suffering. This is where I would’ve suggested this couple could have turned.
American Association of Pro-Life OBGYN’s Dr. Christina Francis cares for all of her patients, both born and preborn. She says, “The science is explicitly clear that a living human being comes into existence at the moment of fertilization. As such, my fetal patients deserve to have their medical needs addressed — not to have their lives ended because they may need extra care.”
Similarly tragic was the story of an abused mother who was 17 weeks’ pregnant and had an abortion. Our community has countless groups that support women in abusive relationships. The Spring of Tampa Bay provides safe housing and essential support to women and their children with a 24-hour crisis hotline. These women are not alone, and encouraging them to choose death for their preborn baby only continues the cycle of violence.
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Dr. Francis agrees that her patients deserve to be supported through any circumstances, saying that information is the treatment for fear of the unknown. We should refuse to live in a community where death is the answer. Killing our own — Floridians who have an intrinsic right to life — is not the way to a prosperous state. I urge our Senate and governor to approve the bill and re-focus our efforts on “loving them both.” The women and children of Tampa Bay deserve better.
Kimberly Bird is vice president for external relations at Live Action, a human rights non-profit and the digital leader of the global pro-life movement. She lives in Tampa with her husband and daughters.