'I wish I’d had a ‘late-term abortion’ rather than give birth to my daughter'

Dina Zirlott, a married stay-at-home mother-of-three from Mobile, Alabama, shared her reasons for believing in late-term abortion. In a piece for Huffington Post, she revealed how her first child came about and how she lost her.

Zirlott said that if she was given a chance to do things again, she would’ve opted to have a late-term abortion for her first child.

Dina Zirlott, 31, was only 17-years-old when she was raped at home by a boy from school whom she took as her friend. Zirlott invited the boy over to her house for a movie while her mother slept.

He started touching her leg inappropriately and in an effort to stop him, the teenage girl got up and went to the kitchen for water when he refused to stop saying, “I don’t want to.” However, he followed her and violated her against the kitchen counter.

After the boy left, Zirlott felt outside of herself and she didn’t wake up her mother or call the police. She said: “I was not capable of processing what had happened. I laid down in my bed, tried wrapping my arms around myself, but I could not bear to be touched ― not even by my own hand.”

She considered drowning herself in the family pool but didn’t. Instead, the high school honor student, varsity cheerleader, and show choir member found her grades dropping within three months of the incident.

At the time of the rape, she had been any other junior who was worried about her ACT scores. The teenager quit the cheerleader squad and began getting sick and missing school.

She lost weight and actively tried committing suicide. Almost eight months later, her mother found a book on recovery after rape wrapped in newspaper under her bed. Zirlott recalled that her mother “cried and apologized, recounting all the signs I had displayed over the past months.”

Her mother did the responsible thing and took her to her gynecologist to test for STIs and pregnancy. The pregnancy test came back positive and that’s when it finally made sense to Zirlott that the sickness she had been experiencing all along was from pregnancy

She wasn’t showing because of how much weight she lost and her “periods had always been splotchy and irregular.” The teenage girl couldn’t understand how anything could grow in her because she thought she “was poison.”

At the gynecologist, the nurse was unfeeling asking her in a flat voice, “Do you know who the father is?” Zirlott’s response stopped her in her tracks, “I was raped.”

For the ultrasound, Zirlott recalled how she was “afraid to look up at the sonographer’s screen and be confronted with undeniable evidence.” That day she found out she was expecting a baby girl.

Then the doctor told her and her mother devastating news, “She pointed to darkness where gray brain matter ought to be. She called it hydranencephaly, a congenital defect in which the brain fails to develop either cerebral hemisphere, instead filling with cerebrospinal fluid.”

According to Zirlott:

“The fetus continued to experience development because the brain stem was still intact, but she would be born blind, deaf, completely cognitively stunted, prone to seizures, diabetes insipidus, insomnia, hypothermia and more. The list of every agonizing disorder she would suffer was tremendous.”

The teenager couldn’t get an abortion because she was too far along in her time. When she was 18 and expecting her baby, Alabama only allowed “up to the stage of fetal viability, usually between 24 and 26 weeks gestation.”

Late-term abortion was an option that was just not available to her. She was forced to quit school in the second week of her senior year as sometimes she would see her rapist in the crowded halls.

Her mother and stepfather wanted to know if she was willing to report him, but she couldn’t imagine facing a room of strangers and having to re-tell her rape story. Zoe Lily was born on October 27, 2005.

She was asked if she wanted to keep her baby or just let her die, but Zirlott chose to let her live. Zoe only survived for a year going in and out of the hospital.

Even though it’s twelve years later, Zirlott still grieves for her baby girl. She explained:

“If I had been allowed the option to choose a ‘late-term abortion,’ would I? Yes. A hundred times over, yes. It would have been a kindness. Zoe would not have had to endure so much pain in the briefness of her life. Her heart could have been stopped when she was warm and safe inside me, and she would have been spared all that came after. Perhaps I could have been spared as well.”

Zirlott shared her story because she couldn’t keep it in any longer. She wanted people who speak against late-term abortion to hear her side of things.

Currently, there’s an argument between Democrats and Republicans with the latter fighting for a woman’s “right to choose,” no matter how far along she is with her pregnancy. Democrats claim that late-term abortions are rare and only necessary if the mother’s health or life is at stake or the fetus suffers from a fatal condition.

However, according to Guttmacher Institute data around12,000 late-term abortions take place every year. Which side do you stand on, are you for or against late-term abortion?

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.

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