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Editorial: Exercising right not to choose abortion

AmandSchulten Marengo is expecting twins knows they are conjoined. Their prospects for survival are not very good according doctors. The

Amanda Schulten of Marengo is expecting twins and knows they are conjoined. Their prospects for survival are not very good, according to doctors. The 21-year-old is dealing with the situation with her strong faith in God. | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 16, 2011 1:27AM

We are a pro-choice editorial page. We will always defend a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.

The flip side of that coin is that we also will always defend a woman’s right not to have an abortion, even when that choice looks to us to be most unwise. Pro-choice means pro-choice, not pro-abortion.

At the University of Chicago Medical Center, a 21-year-old woman is lying in a bed, determined to give birth on or before her Oct. 11 due date to twins who have no chance of a long or normal life, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Friday. They are conjoined girls, fully connected at the torso, sharing a heart, two lungs and two kidneys. They share two legs, and they each have one good arm.

Amanda Schulten, of Marengo, first learned at Elgin Sherman Hospital in April that she was carrying the conjoined twins. A doctor told her that the babies would not make it and advised her to terminate the pregnancy. But she decided not to. As a Catholic, she said, she believed that aborting her pregnancy would be interfering with God’s will.

We can all list plenty of good reasons Schulten might have chosen abortion.

The twins are likely to die very young even if they make it to birth; the oldest documented twins sharing a heart are just 3 1/2 years old.

The medical cost of Schulten’s pregnancy and delivery and the babies’ future care will be enormous, only a portion of which insurance will likely cover. And, really, what kind of life is ahead for these girls?

But if Schulten was not convinced by such arguments, so be it. The call was hers to make — and hers alone. And we believe her when she says she will love her girls “always and forever, no matter what” and give up her “whole life” for them.

Sadly, Schulten’s honor and character have been attacked by anonymous strangers online. On her blog, Amanda-faithhope, she has been belittled for her religious beliefs and for choosing not to get an abortion. She spends a good deal of time deleting ugly comments.

Many of those who profess to be anti-abortion, we should add, have been no more respectful or civil, snarling that Schulten is still a “bad Catholic” because she is unmarried.

Abortion rights are under renewed assault in the United States.

In the last year, 13 states have enacted laws banning insurance coverage of abortion in the health insurance exchanges to be created by the federal health-care reform law. Some states have even restricted abortion coverage in private insurance plans sold outside the exchanges.

We oppose all such restrictions, but we cannot in good conscious defend abortion rights without also defending women such as Amanda Schulten.

We defend her right to choose. What she chooses is her business.

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