Nebraska fully outlaws abortion after 20 weeks, even in cases where the baby will not survive after birth and the pregnancy is doomed. Danielle and Robb Deavers had such a pregnancy, and wanted to terminate it so that their baby wouldn’t suffer. They couldn’t, and Danielle had to continue the pregnancy and give birth. Then, they watched their baby die.
Danielle Deaver cradled her daughter, knowing the newborn’s gasps would slowly subside, and the baby would die.
Her baby tried desperately to inhale.
With her husband, Robb, at her side, Deaver sobbed, gently kissing her daughter’s forehead and hoping her baby wasn’t in pain. That fear – that the baby would suffer before its predestined death – compelled the couple to seek an abortion. But a new Nebraska law that limits abortion after the 20th week of gestation prevented her from getting one. The Iowa Legislature is considering a similar law.
A nurse at Mary Lanning Memorial Hospital in Hastings instructed the couple to closely monitor their daughter’s breathing so when it stopped the staff could accurately record the death.
The clock ticked.
At 3:15 p.m. Dec. 8, 1-pound, 10-ounce Elizabeth Deaver – named in memory of Robb’s grandmother – made one final attempt to breathe.
Her life struggle, 15 minutes outside the womb after 23 weeks and five days of gestation, was over.
“Our hands were tied,” Danielle Deaver said. “The outcome of my pregnancy, that choice was made by God. I feel like how to handle the end of my pregnancy, that choice should have been mine, and it wasn’t because of a law.”
“Pro-lifers,” including one Republican sponsoring a similar bill in Idaho, say this is a good outcome, and exactly how the bill is supposed to work:
“In life, amazing things happen,” Massie said, noting examples of when unborn children have beaten the odds of a dire medical prognosis. “I know it may be a one in a bazillion snowballs’ chance, but if I were that snowball, I’d want that chance.”
Amazing things do happen. And so do torturous, horrible and cruel things. What happened to the Deavers is the latter.