Commentary: The difficult decision to end a pregnancy

It is Daily News policy to run only signed op-eds. Below, we are making an exception and running an unsigned column about one family's decision to terminate a pregnancy. We believe that reproductive rights are critical and are concerned about their erosion. The exaggerated and misleading claims of candidates such as Donald Trump serve not only to undermine the legal choice guaranteed by Roe v. Wade, but distort the truth about what these decisions mean and how difficult they are. If you have a similar story to share, send it to Views@phillynews.com or mail to Letters, Philadelphia Daily News, 801 Market St., Philadelphia PA 19107. Include your name, address and phone number so that we can verify.

THIS WEEK would have marked my daughter's third birthday. It should be filled with cake, balloons and celebration. Instead, it is a reminder of a very difficult time and an even more difficult decision.

The 20-week appointment is a much-anticipated time, when most expectant parents find out their child's gender and hear assurances that they are well on their way to holding their healthy baby. For my husband and me, that appointment took a turn we could never have anticipated.

We learned that our baby, the one for whom we discussed names and were planning a nursery, was sick. She had a genetic abnormality so severe, she would not survive the pregnancy. We were devastated. Everything we planned for, everything we dreamed of, stopped in that instant.

Still reeling from the news, we then had to decide what to do next. We sought second opinions and talked with specialists, but our daughter's diagnosis and prognosis were always the same. The decision to terminate the pregnancy was the most difficult of our lives, but one that I am so thankful my husband and I could legally make. To continue the pregnancy for five more months - knowing not only that I would never hear my daughter cry or see her take a breath, but also, and much worse, that she could suffer - would have been torture.

Donald Trump talked about babies being ripped from their mothers' wombs at nine months. This type of talk is dangerous, ill-informed and hurtful to women who have made this impossible decision. Just over 1 percent of abortions occur after the 20th week of pregnancy. This procedure is exceedingly rare, and it is meant to support families when the mother's or baby's life is in jeopardy.

Trump's words judging the impossible decision made at the most difficult time of our lives brought back all of the pain we felt three years ago. No one - no government, no person - should dictate my health-care decisions or tell me what I can do with my body. Mothers who decide to have late-term abortions need support, not vilification. We need to be able to talk about our decisions without judgment and hate. I have been afraid to even use the word abortion for fear of what people would think - but that is what happened, and no woman should have to be silent about that.

I love my baby and wish she were here with me today, enjoying her birthday cake with her little brother. But that is not possible or what was meant for her. I am thankful that I was able to make a decision that was what was best for me and, I believe, best for her. And I am beyond thankful that one of the presidential candidates truly understands these gut-wrenching decisions and will fight for our right to decide what is best for our families, our bodies and our babies.