In my 28 years as a respiratory therapist, the memory stands out in stark relief. Born at 24 weeks, this tiny girl, head no bigger than an orange, skin ruddy, gasping, was rushed to the isolette where our team waited.

This was 25 years ago, before neonate ventilators were common, before the Barbara Bush transport team. It looked grim. She was dried, intubated, and the umbilical artery line was placed as I supported her breathing with a resuscitator bag.

Just before we left Seton, the nurse made inked footprints on a card for the mother … just in case. “Would you make a set for me?” I asked. Then it was a race through a foggy night to Maine Medical Center, lights flashing. All the while, hundreds of tiny manual breaths — puff, puff, puff — as I prayed silently.

Did she survive? I never heard. Yet we counted her life worthy of every effort to save her. I have carried her footprints on tattered paper in my wallet for 25 years now.

Why tell this story? Because of the ghastly irony that the same day we gave our all to save this barely viable newborn, 4,000 of her brothers and sisters with beating hearts and some with clearly unique footprints of their own were stabbed, poisoned, burned with salts, sucked through tubes (the “providers” call it “gentle suction”) or torn limb from limb. All done in the name of choice and for the health of the mother (meaning almost anything).

Fifty-six (56) million dead babies, 28 million of which were dead female babies.

So as Elliot Cutler and Mike Michaud vie for who is most pro-choice, I ask, “Just who is it that has a ‘War on Women’?” The silent screams of 28 million unborn women demand an answer.

David ClinardOakland

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